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Traffic revisited ten years later in Cincinnati

The 2000 box office hit Traffic was filmed in Cincinnati and portrayed Cincinnati’s inner city Over-the-Rhine neighborhood as one of urban decay that filled a necessary role in the drug trade. Ten years later many of the sites in the film are revisited, and boy have things changed.

The last major motion picture to be filmed in Cincinnati was the 2000 box office hit Traffic which highlighted America’s relationship with drugs.  In the movie, a conservative politician from Cincinnati was appointed as U.S. Drug Czar all while his young daughter deals with a drug addiction of her own.  The wealthy politician, and his family, lived in the extraordinarily affluent Indian Hill neighborhood, and his daughter would travel into Cincinnati’s inner city to support her drug habits.

The movie focuses on the wide reach of drugs in contemporary American society and illustrates the role both wealthy and poor individuals play in the drug trade.  The movie portrayed the inner city as a place of decay where the dirty elements of the drug trade take place.

Filmmakers chose Over-the-Rhine because of its urban form and its state of decay that helped tell the story at the time the movie was filmed.  Since that time a dramatic revitalization has occurred throughout Cincinnati’s inner city that has included the renaissance taking place in Over-the-Rhine that has netted hundreds of new residents, dozens of new businesses, and plummeting crime rates.

Soapbox takes a look the locations used in Traffic ten years after the movie first entertained audiences.  The video, produced by 7/79 ltd, shows that most all of the locations have been rejuvenated over that time, and those involved with the film say that Over-the-Rhine continues to be a draw for filmmakers as it provides an affordable alternative to filming in New York while providing a similar urban form to use.

“A big part of their decision to come to Cincinnati was Over-the-Rhine.  They just fell in love with that whole area, and felt that it had a wealth of opportunities and architectural detail to offer the film,” said Deidre Costa, Location Manager for Traffic.  “I would say hands down that the biggest selling point of Cincinnati has been Over-the-Rhine.”

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.