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Hundreds of Cincinnatians celebrate groundbreaking of Midwest’s first modern streetcar

On what turned out to be virtually perfect weather for Cincinnati in mid-February, hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the official groundbreaking of the Cincinnati Streetcar this past Friday.

The event was announced to the public a week prior, and included dignitaries and media from not only Cincinnati but from around the United States. The #LetsGo stream used on Twitter quickly became a trending topic and people from St. Louis, Portland, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle, Cleveland and Indianapolis chimed in with their praise of Cincinnati.

Some of the dignitaries at the event included FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff; Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory (D); City Manager Milton Dohoney; councilmembers Laure Quinlivan (D), Roxanne Qualls (C), Chris Seelbach (D), Yvette Simpson (D), Wendal Young (D), Cecil Thomas (D); and Secretary of Trasnportation Ray LaHood (R).

Those in Cincinnati who have been involved with its efforts to improve its transit system know that the most honored guest of the day was John Schneider. Schneider, or as Mayor Mallory refered to him “Mr. Streetcar,” has been advocating regional transit improvements for nearly two decades and has taken scores of Cincinnatians to Portland to see how modern streetcars work first-hand.

Schneider also serves on the Cincinnati Planning Commission and has been living car-free in Cincinnati for many years. During the press conference Mayor Mallory gave the podium over to Mr. Schneider so that he could share his thoughts on the historic day.

UrbanCincy contributor Jake Mecklenborg also captured the climatic end to the event as the hundreds in attendance counted down to the official groundbreaking.

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.