2nd Annual Cinciditarod Race (register now)

The first Saturday in March marks the beginning of the annual Iditarod race through Alaska, and for the second year in a row, it marks the beginning of the Cinciditarod race.

There are some slight twists in the Cincinnati version though. Instead of 1,100+ miles through the Alaskan wilderness, it is nearly 5 miles through the urban core of Cincinnati (Downtown, OTR, Newport, Covington). Instead of dogs, it’s people. And instead of sleds, shopping carts are used to navigate the course. Teams will pick up items on a grocery list and have 5 mandatory checkpoints along the way.

The registration deadline, for the March 7th race, is this Friday, February 27th by 5pm. Each team consists of 5 members and all participants must be 18 years of age and sign a waiver form with their registration ($25 team registration fee).

Similar events are found throughout the country in cities like San Francisco, Portland, New York and Chicago. All grocery items collected, during the Cincinnati race, go to benefit the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank.


News Transportation

Could a City-Wide Water Taxi Network Improve Region’s Mobility?

Cincinnati is a river town. We developed as a major city because of the Ohio River. Multiple satellite cities developed as a result of the several Ohio River tributaries (Little Miami, Great Miami, Licking). These cities have become an integral part of our region and have greatly influenced the population distribution we see today.

Steamboats once darted all over the mighty Ohio River taking people to/from nearby cities and within our own to special destinations like Coney Island. Aside from the historic Anderson Ferry operation there is nothing left to speak of in terms of human transportation along our rivers.

Why not once again tap one of the biggest natural resources our community has as a means for transporting people?

Cincinnati could set up a Central Riverfront water taxi loop that would make stops at Cincinnati’s Central Riverfront Park, Newport on the Levee, and Covington Landing. This 1.65 mile loop could operate daily with one 12 passenger boat running the loop (15min). On the weekends, and for sporting events, a second 12 passenger boat could be deployed to handle greater demand for a route geared towards tourists and special event patrons. The water taxi loop’s reach would be extended with Cincinnati’s proposed streetcar system – making a car-free trip both easy and possible from downtown Covington and Newport all the way to the University of Cincinnati.

Linear routes could then be set up to run to the Central Riverfront Park terminal from the current Anderson Ferry terminal (6.88miles, 28min) to the west and new stops in Columbia Tusculum (4.66miles, 21min) and Coney Island to the east. The Anderson Ferry and Columbia Tusculum docking points would operate daily for commuter traffic, with the additional eastern leg to Coney Island operating on weekends and during special events at Riverbend and Riverdowns – similar to the function of the old “Island Queen” that operated between Coney Island and Downtown Cincinnati.

The water taxis used for the linear routes would hold 27 passengers seated and up to 6 additional standing passengers. Peak operating hours would be during daily commute periods for the Anderson Ferry and Columbia Tusculum terminals with 1 boat operating on each respective leg making for new departures every 40min to 1hr.

Too often we seem to forget how our city and region once functioned when it operated out of a manner of necessity. Riverdowns is feeling the pinch and Coney Island isn’t what it once was prior to the opening of Kings Island. Riverbend has opened a new pavilion and continues to draw big names, but additional service to the concert venue probably wouldn’t hurt.

UPDATE: Covington City Manager, Project Executive for The Banks, and several other riverfront business leaders are working together on collaborative efforts including water taxis – Enquirer 2/16/09.

Arts & Entertainment News

Winter Blues Fest ’09

The Southgate House will be the host for the 2nd annual Winter Blues Fest this Friday and Saturday. The doors will open at 6pm with performances going until about 1:30am or so (you know how these things go). The festival boasts 28 bands on 3 different stages and will offer a great way to spend the weekend and escape the cold for a bit.

The festival serves as an annual fundraiser for the Blues in the Schools program. There will be youth performances in the lounge area both nights from 6:10 to 6:40pm. The Bluebirds and The Blue Shivers will be headlining on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Tickets are $15 per person, per night and can be bought in advance or at the door. Blues Society members getting a $5 discount. Visit the festival’s web site for more information on the list of bands and schedule of acts.

The 17th annual Cincy Blues Fest will take place August 7th & 8th at Sawyer Point.

Arts & Entertainment Development News

PHOTOS: Newport’s Mansion Hill and East Row Historic Districts

The other day I visited Newport (no not the Levee) and took some photos of Newport’s Mansion Hill and East Row districts. The day was cold, the skies were gray, but I had a good time nonetheless walking through Newport’s often overlooked residential districts.

Mansion Hill boasts many gorgeous homes that have been well maintained over the years. East Row is another historic district, but will much more modest dwellings in a comfortable neighborhood setting. The area is sprinkled with neighborhood businesses including the well-known Italian restaurant Pompilio’s and Mansion Hill Tavern.

Today the neighborhood is experiencing the spread of investment from the nearby Newport on the Levee complex, but is also suffering from the noise and traffic from I-471 which practically owns the eastern portion of the neighborhoods.

There are 35 photos in the slideshow. You can also view the full set on UrbanOhio.



That is roughly the valuation of current and proposed construction projects in Cincinnati’s urban core (Downtown, OTR, parts of Nky’s riverfront, Mt. Adams, parts of Uptown). The area is roughly 6 square miles that includes hilly terrain, a mighty river and is the heart of a 2+ million person metropolitan area. That averages out to roughly $574-million worth of investment per square mile.

Projects highlighting this list are The Banks, Cincinnati Riverfront Park, Queen City Square, SouthShore, Ovation, and the Cincinnati Streetcar. In addition to those big projects, the list is filled out by a potpourri of rehab and infill projects that would tickle the fancy of any urbanite.

While you simply can not project development valuations as a signal of a city’s success or failure, it is hard not to be impressed by the shear amount of activity going on now and in the coming months/years. It is not often that a Midwestern city sees this kind of activity, and it isn’t something Cincinnati has seen happen in many decades.

*Note that this list does not include projects going on in the East End, West End, Dayton, or Bellevue.