Monday, November 8, 2010

Skyline Roadtrip - Cincinnati

View from Carew Tower, new Great American Tower at left
 Cincinnati boasts a population around 333,000, making it the 3rd largest city in the state of Ohio. Sitting just across the Kentucky state line along the Ohio River it was settled in 1788 and named "Cincinnati" by the Arthur St. Clair the governor of the Northwest Territory to honor the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization of former officers of the Continental Army.

The city is known for the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds, Fountain Square, the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University, an incomplete and abandoned subway, and of course it's architecture.

Up until this year the tallest building in the city was the 49-story art deco Carew Tower which opened in 1931. It was recently surpassed by the 660 ft Great American Tower. The Carew Tower along with the 31-story Hilton Hotel it is connected to take up an entire city block right off Fountain Square. Together they are generally seen as one of the finest examples of French Art Deco. Originally it housed the Mabely & Carew Department store, but today it is a mix of retail and and the upper floors have remained offices.

$2 gets your to the observation deck on the very top of the 49 floor. Believe me this is no Empire State Building deck. You take the elevator to the 25th floor and then a small closet-sized elevator up to the 48th floor, and then the last flight up by metal staircase takes you to a small desk where you pay your two-bucks and then out the door. The views are great, but the railing seems a bit low and there is no protective cage, you really feel a rush. (I took a few pictures and retreated back inside).

From up-top you catch a good glimpse of the city, the Ohio River and its bridges. One in particular is the Roebling Bridge, Cincinnati's finest, built in 1866 as a prototype for its larger and more famous cousin, the Brooklyn Bridge.

View of the Roebling Bridge, the Ohio River, and Kentucky
One part of Cincinnati most people may not know about is it's forgotten, unfinished subway running underneath downtown. 2.2 miles were completed along with three underground stations in the early 1920s until it was abandoned during the great depression. The line was never finished and trains never operated along the line. The good news is, Cincinnati will begin construction on its streetcar line next year which will connect the waterfront with downtown and north.

With more cities proposing and building streetcars, this could be a big push for projects like the one in Baltimore.

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