INFOGRAPHIC: The Abandonment of Cincinnati’s 1914 Subway and Rapid Transit Loop

Cincinnati’s abandoned rapid transit project is a subject of continual interest. Although many are familiar with the unused two-mile tunnel beneath Central Parkway, little remains of the ten miles of surface-running right-of-way built in the mid-1920s between Camp Washington and Norwood.

This graphic by Andy Woodruff, from the UW-Madison Department of Geography, illustrates which sections of the so-called Rapid Transit Loop were built, which parts were replaced by expressways, and which parts were planned but not funded and built.

Cincinnati Subway System

So why was the Rapid Transit Loop started but not completed?

The project had several forces working against it, especially wealthy Downtown landowners who stood to lose money and influence if the city’s most valuable property shifted from Fountain Square north to Central Parkway. The likelihood of that happening was heightened by the Rapid Transit Commission’s decision to forego construction of the Walnut Street Subway as part of the project’s first phase.

Those who owned property lining Central Parkway knew that construction of a tunnel under Mt. Adams, linking the Loop’s never-built eastern half, would likely cost less than construction of the Walnut Street Subway and cause the loop’s traffic to bypass the city’s established epicenter entirely.

The second interest acting to scuttle the subway project was the consortium of seven steam railroads that commenced construction of Cincinnati’s spectacular Union Terminal in 1929.

An ancillary feature of the Rapid Transit Loop was its intention to serve the area’s electric interurban railroads at a multi-track terminal centered beneath the intersection of Race Street and Central Parkway. The interurban terminal’s more convenient location promised to erode the redundant services of the steam railroads.

Editorial Note: In addition to focusing on UrbanCincy’s transportation coverage, Jake authored a book about Cincinnati’s infamously abandoned subway and rapid transit project. First published in 2010, Cincinnati’s Incomplete Subway: The Complete History is considered to be the most comprehensive analysis of the events leading up to and after one of the city’s most notorious missteps.

PHOTOS: Holidays in the City [Cincinnati]

It has been quite a year in Cincinnati and it’s easy to sometimes get caught up in all the drama and miss out on the everyday beauty around you. This has been particularly true in Cincinnati this holiday season, but we asked one of our favorite local photographers, Brian Spitzig, to go around and gather some photographs these past two months.

If his name sounds familiar, that might be because you are remembering when we featured two of Brian’s tilt-shift videos on UrbanCincy in February 2012 and March 2012.

After reaching out to Brian again he put together the following collection of 48 photographs from all over the city that capture it in its holiday splendor. If you like Brian’s photos as much as we do, then please follow him on Twitter @b_spitz and on Instagram @bspitz.

This will be our last post this year, but we hope you all had a very wonderful 2013 and wish you the best in the year to come. Enjoy!

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The Ridges to Perform Live Film Score of Nosferatu at CAM

Nosferatu at CAMTonight, the Cincinnati Art Museum’s (CAM) free Art After Dark series will collaborate with orchestral folk rock group The Ridges to bring a classic horror film to life.

As part of October’s “Immortal Spirits” theme, The Ridges will perform an original string-based score to an abridged version of the 1922 silent film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror inside the Museum’s Great Hall.

Art After Dark is one of the CAM’s many recurring events aimed at young professionals. The museum is open until 9pm, past its usual closing time of 5pm, so it is an opportunity to explore one of the country’s oldest art museums after hours, check out some world-class art, enjoy a drink, and this Friday, watch a vampire flick accompanied by a folk rock band in the Great Hall.

Based out of Athens, Ohio, The Ridges is led by Victor Rasgaitis (guitar, vocals) and Talor Smith (cello, vocals) but feature any number of musicians from a rotating collective of players on cello, violin, banjo, horns, percussion, mandolin and accordion. CAM’s screening of Nosferatu will be scored for guitar, cello, violin, upright bass, and banjo.

The Ridges are known for presenting each show as a unique and different experience, and their performance of Nosferatu is no exception. “It’s our own reimagining of the film,” said Ridges frontman Victor Rasgaitis.

While the band composed some new, original music for the film, they also reworked parts from some of their existing songs. For example, the film plays heavily on the use of Nosferatu’s shadow, so it only made sense to Rasgaitis to use their song “Shadows” as Nosferatu’s theme.

“Whenever he’s on screen, we’re doing variations of the chord progression of our song,” Rasgaitis explained.

The band is a perfect fit to revisit the adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula; The Ridges took their name from the allegedly haunted asylum in their hometown, and even recorded their 2011 EP inside the Victorian-era asylum in the dead of winter. (If you listen closely, it’s rumored you can hear mysterious, unexplained noises and whispers in the background of some of the songs).

The Ridges’ romantic Old World sound has been compared to Beirut, Arcade Fire, and Fleet Foxes, while Daytrotter described their music as “hidden with turn of the century and Dust Bowl-era themes.”

The free event will also feature guided ghost tours ending at the newest exhibit, Realm of the Immortals: Daoist Art in the Cincinnati Art Museum, as well as a cash bar (featuring Great Lakes’ Nosferatu Ale, of course) and appetizers for purchase. Parking is free for Art Museum members; $4 for non-members. The CAM is also served by multiple Metro bus routes.

“Art After Dark: Immortal Souls” will take place from 5pm to 9pm. The Ridges Present: Nosferatu, Symphony of Horror will go from 6pm to 8pm. Ghost tours, meanwhile, are scheduled to take place at 6:30pm and 7:30pm.

Ohio awards nearly $9M in historic tax credits to seven Cincinnati-area projects

Seven Cincinnati-area developments have been awarded nearly $9 million in tax credits from the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) through the state’s historic preservation program.

Six of the seven area projects are located within the City of Cincinnati, and one is located in downtown Hamilton. The Cincinnati-area projects took home nearly 25 percent of the total $35.9 million distributed in the program’s ninth round of funding, and will create more than 130 new housing units and tens of thousands of square feet of commercial space once completed.

“The Historic Preservation Tax Credit puts empty buildings back into the economic cycle, creating jobs through construction activities and reoccupation of the buildings,” Christiane Schmenk, director of the ODSA, stated in a prepared release. “This program saves some of the state’s most significant historic structures.”


Eden Park’s 118-year-old pump station may soon see new life as a micro-brewery thanks to a $1 million tax credit from the State of Ohio. Rendering provided.

According to state officials, projects receiving funding must complete the rehabilitation work in accordance with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation before the credits are issued to the building owner or long-term tenant.

More than $3.3 million in funding will flow into Over-the-Rhine for Losantiville Apartments, Abington Flats, and Pendleton Apartments through the program, and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) was awarded $1.8 million for its $9 million redevelopment of three historic buildings at Third Street and Main Street in the central business district.

“Without it [Ohio Historic Tax Credit] we would be unable to preserve the historic character of as many buildings as we have,” Anastasia Mileham, 3CDC’s vice president of communications, told UrbanCincy. “The cost to restore and develop them costs more than the what you can sell the condos for and lease the commercial space for. Historic tax credits help fill that gap and make the math work.”

In Mt. Adams, the Cincinnati Beer Company was awarded $1 million for its $5.2 million project that will transform Eden Park’s 118-year-old pump station into a brewery and tap room. Nearby, the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and The Model Group were awarded $1.8 million to renovate three historic structures into 30 market-rate housing units and approximately 7,000 square feet of street-level commercial space.

Elsewhere, the City of Hamilton will see more than $800,000 go towards the renovation of the 126-year-old Hamilton Journal-News Building, which will become the home of Butler Tech’s School for the Arts and Hamilton City Schools’ Adult Basic & Literacy Education (ABLE) program.

According to ODSA, this round of funding will assist in the rehabilitation of 45 historic buildings throughout the state, and leverage more than $252 million in private investments.

Cincinnati spreads neighborhood investment in 2013 budget

Last week Cincinnati City Council approved its yearly budget for the coming fiscal year. The approved budget lays out several city priorities for funding redevelopment efforts in many of the city’s 52 neighborhoods.

“This budget prioritizes our neighborhoods and will improve our economic competitiveness, make the city safer and healthier, protect our citizens who are most in need, and support our world class parks and arts,” Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls (C) stated in a prepared release.

City officials say the increased funding will go towards two programs that are designed to maximize impacts on neighborhoods throughout the city.


Cincinnati’s new budget directs funding towards the city’s 52 neighborhoods and invests in walkable neighborhood districts like Calhoun/McMillan in Clifton Heights (above). Photograph by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.

The first program creates a new fund called Focus 52, which will create a pool of $54 million designed to focus on neighborhood projects by utilizing strategies developed from the city’s successes in the urban core.

“This budget will take the lessons we’ve learned from our success in downtown and Over-the-Rhine redevelopment and give our neighborhoods the support to take that momentum into their communities,” Qualls continued.

The second program endorses 13 neighborhood enhancement projects in neighborhoods such as Avondale, Walnut Hills, Mt. Adams and Price Hill. The annual funding for these projects comes from the Neighborhood Business District Improvement Program (NBDIP), which was created in partnership between the City’s Economic Development Division and the Cincinnati Neighborhood Business Districts United.

“Thriving neighborhood business districts will not only provide a high quality of life for current residents – they’re also key to attracting new residents,” said Odis Jones, Cincinnati’s Economic Development Director. “The NBDIP process reaffirms our commitment to strategically investing in neighborhoods to grow the city and the local economy.”

This commitment to city neighborhoods was recently outlined in the city’s recently adopted comprehensive plan, Plan Cincinnati. Several of the goals outlined in the new plan focus heavily on the continued development of the city’s traditional walkable neighborhood centers. The plan outlines over 40 different centers outside of downtown and calls for the assessment of neighborhood needs and the rehabilitation of neighborhood centers by utilizing tools such as the city’s new form-based code.

Working to begin the implementation of this new plan Vice Mayor Qualls has directed staff to identify sources of capital funding to begin accomplishing some of the plans goals.

Plan Cincinnati includes strategies that for the first time put the focus on economic development in the city’s neighborhoods,” Qualls stated. “This budget will ensure that spending supports those strategies and translates into results in our neighborhoods.”