Quick facts for kids
Losantiville (until 1790)
|City of Cincinnati|
From top left to bottom right: Fountain Square, Cincinnati Children's Museum at Union Terminal, city skyline from Devou Park, McMicken Hall at University of Cincinnati, and John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.
The Queen City, Cincy, The Fountain City
Juncta Juvant (Lat. Strength in Unity)
|Incorporated||1802 as village / 1819 as city|
|Named for||Society of the Cincinnati|
|• City||79.54 sq mi (206.01 km2)|
|• Land||77.94 sq mi (201.86 km2)|
|• Water||1.60 sq mi (4.14 km2)|
|Elevation||482 ft (147 m)|
| • Estimate
|• Rank||US: 65th|
|• Density||3,809.9/sq mi (1,471.0/km2)|
|• Urban||1,624,827 (US: 30th)|
|• Metro||2,137,406 (US: 28th)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1066650|
Cincinnati (// SIN-si-NAT-ee) is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio that serves as county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located on the north side of the confluence of the Licking with the Ohio River. With a population of 298,550, Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio and the 65th-largest city in the United States. Its metropolitan statistical area is the 28th-largest in the United States and the largest centered in Ohio. The city is also part of the larger Cincinnati–Middletown–Wilmington combined statistical area, which had a population of 2,172,191 in the 2010 census.
In the 19th century, Cincinnati was an American boomtown in the heart of the country; it rivaled the larger coastal cities in size and wealth. Throughout much of the 19th century, it was listed among the top 10 U.S. cities by population, surpassed only by New Orleans and the older, established settlements of the Eastern Seaboard; at one point holding the position of America's sixth-largest city for a period spanning consecutive census reports from 1840 until 1860. It was by far the largest city in the west. Because it is the first major American city founded after the American Revolution as well as the first major inland city in the country, Cincinnati is sometimes thought of as the first purely "American" city.
Cincinnati developed with less European immigration or influence than eastern cities attracted in the same period; however, it received a significant number of German immigrants, who founded many of the city's cultural institutions. By the end of the 19th century, with the shift from steamboats to railroads drawing off freight shipping, trade patterns had altered and Cincinnati's growth slowed considerably. The city was surpassed in population by other inland cities, particularly Chicago, which developed based on commodity exploitation and the railroads, and St. Louis, for decades after the Civil War the gateway to westward migration.
Cincinnati is home to two major sports teams, the Cincinnati Reds, the oldest franchise in Major League Baseball, and the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. The University of Cincinnati, founded in 1819, is one of the 50 largest in the United States. Cincinnati is known for its historic architecture. In the late 1800s, Cincinnati was commonly referred to as "Paris of America", due mainly to such ambitious architectural projects as the Music Hall, Cincinnatian Hotel, and Shillito Department Store.
- See also: Timeline of Cincinnati and History of Ohio
Cincinnati was founded in 1788 when Mathias Denman, Colonel Robert Patterson and Israel Ludlow landed at the spot on the north bank of the Ohio River opposite the mouth of the Licking River and decided to settle there. The original surveyor, John Filson, named it "Losantiville". In 1790, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, changed the name of the settlement to "Cincinnati" in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, made up of Revolutionary War veterans, of which he was a member.
Ethnic Germans were among the early settlers, migrating from Pennsylvania and the backcountry of Virginia and Tennessee. General David Ziegler succeeded General St. Clair in command at Fort Washington. After the conclusion of the Northwest Indian Wars and removal of Native Americans to the west, he was elected as the mayor of Cincinnati in 1802.
The introduction of steamboats on the Ohio River in 1811 opened up its trade to more rapid shipping, and the city established commercial ties with St. Louis, Missouri and especially New Orleans downriver. Cincinnati was incorporated as a city in 1819. Exporting pork products and hay, it became a center of pork processing in the region. From 1810 to 1830 its population nearly tripled, from 9,642 to 24,831. Completion of the Miami and Erie Canal in 1827 to Middletown, Ohio further stimulated businesses, and employers struggled to hire enough people to fill positions. The city had a labor shortage until large waves of immigration by Irish and Germans in the late 1840s. The city grew rapidly over the next two decades, reaching 115,000 persons by 1850.
Construction on the Miami and Erie Canal began on July 21, 1825, when it was called the Miami Canal, related to its origin at the Great Miami River. The first section of the canal was opened for business in 1827. In 1827, the canal connected Cincinnati to nearby Middletown; by 1840, it had reached Toledo. During this period of rapid expansion and prominence, residents of Cincinnati began referring to the city as the "Queen City".
Cincinnati depended on trade with the slave states south of the Ohio River, at a time when thousands of blacks were settling in the free state of Ohio, most from Kentucky and Virginia and some of them fugitives seeking freedom in the North. Many came to find work in Cincinnati. In the antebellum years, the majority of native-born whites in the city came from northern states, primarily Pennsylvania. In 1841 26 percent of whites were from the South and 57 percent from the eastern states, primarily Pennsylvania. They retained their cultural support for slavery. This led to tensions between pro-slavery residents and those in favor of abolitionism and lifting restrictions on free people of color, as codified in the "Black Code" of 1804.
The volatile social conditions produced white-led riots against blacks occurred in 1829, when many blacks lost their homes and property. As Irish immigrants entered the city in the late 1840s, they competed with blacks at the lower levels of the economy. White-led riots against blacks occurred in 1836, when an abolitionist press was twice destroyed; and in 1842. More than one thousand blacks abandoned the city after the 1829 riots. Blacks in Philadelphia and other major cities raised money to help the refugees recover from the destruction. By 1842 blacks had become better established in the city; they defended their persons and property in the riot, and worked politically as well.
After the steamboats, railroads were the first major form of commercial transportation to come to Cincinnati. In 1836, the Little Miami Railroad was chartered. Construction began soon after, to connect Cincinnati with the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, and provide access to the ports of the Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie.
In 1859, Cincinnati laid out six streetcar lines; the cars were pulled by horses and the lines made it easier for people to get around the city. By 1872, Cincinnatians could travel on the streetcars within the city and transfer to rail cars for travel to the hill communities. The Cincinnati Inclined Plane Company began transporting people to the top of Mount Auburn that year.
In 1880, the city government completed the Cincinnati Southern Railway to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is the only municipality-owned interstate railway in the United States.
In 1889, the Cincinnati streetcar system began converting its horsecar lines to electric streetcars.
An early rejuvenation of downtown began in the 1920s and continued into the next decade with the construction of Union Terminal, the post office, and the large Cincinnati and Suburban Telephone Company Building. Cincinnati weathered the Great Depression better than most American cities of its size, largely because of a resurgence in river trade, which was less expensive than transporting goods by rail. The flood of 1937 was one of the worst in the nation's history and destroyed many areas along the Ohio Valley. Afterward the city built protective flood walls.
A major city of the Ohio Valley, Cincinnati is situated on the north bank of the Ohio River in Hamilton County, which is the extreme southwestern county of the state of Ohio. It is midway by river between the cities of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cairo, Illinois. The city lies opposite the mouth of the Licking River, an important factor in its being sited where it is.
Cincinnati's core metro area spans parts of southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 79.54 square miles (206.01 km2), of which 77.94 square miles (201.86 km2) is land and 1.60 square miles (4.14 km2) is water. The city spreads over a number of hills, bluffs, and low ridges overlooking the Ohio River in the Bluegrass region of the country. Cincinnati is geographically located within the Midwest and is on the far northern periphery of the Upland South. Two-thirds of the American population live within a one-day drive of the city.
Three enclaves lie within Cincinnati's city limits: Norwood, Elmwood Place, and Saint Bernard. Norwood is a significant business and industrial city, while Elmwood Place and Saint Bernard are small, primarily residential, villages. Cincinnati does not have an exclave, but the city government does own several properties outside the corporation limits: French Park in Amberley Village, the disused runway at the former Blue Ash Airport in Blue Ash, and the 337-mile-long (542 km) Cincinnati Southern Railway, which runs between Cincinnati and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Cincinnati is home to numerous structures that are noteworthy due to their architectural characteristics or historic associations, including the Carew Tower, the Scripps Center, the Ingalls Building, Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, and the Isaac M. Wise Temple.
The city is undergoing significant changes due to new development and private investment. This includes construction of the long-stalled Banks project, which will include apartments, retail, restaurants, and offices and will stretch from Great American Ball Park to Paul Brown Stadium. Phase 1A is already complete and 100 percent occupied as of early 2013. Smale Riverfront Park is being developed along with The Banks and is Cincinnati's newest park. Fountain Square was renovated in 2006. Nearly $3.5 billion has been invested in the urban core of Cincinnati (including Northern Kentucky). Much has been done by 3CDC. A new streetcar system opened in September 2016.
Queen City Square opened in January 2011. The building is the tallest in Cincinnati (surpassing the Carew Tower), and is the third tallest in Ohio, reaching a height of 665 feet. In 2013 the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati opened, the first casino in the city and fourth in the state of Ohio.
The mile-long Cincinnati Skywalk, which was completed in 1997, remains a viable way to traverse downtown on foot in an indoor environment, despite the removal of several segments based on modern urban-development initiatives.
Cincinnati belongs to a climatic transition zone, at the northern limit of the humid subtropical climate and the southern limit of the humid continental climate zone (Köppen: Cfa/Dfa, respectively). Summers are warm to hot and humid, with significant rainfall in each month and highs reaching 90 °F (32 °C) or above on 21 days per year, often with high dew points and humidity. July is the warmest month, with a daily average temperature of 75.9 °F (24.4 °C).
Winters tend to be cold and snowy, with January, the coldest month, averaging at 30.8 °F (−0.7 °C). Lows reach 0 °F (−18 °C) on an average 2.6 nights annually. An average winter will see around 22.1 inches (56 cm) of snowfall, contributing to the annual 42.5 inches (1,080 mm) of precipitation, with rainfall peaking in spring. Extremes range from −25 °F (−32 °C) on January 18, 1977 up to 108 °F (42 °C) on July 21 and 22, 1934. Severe thunderstorms are common in the warmer months, and tornadoes, while infrequent, are not unknown, with such events striking the Greater Cincinnati area most recently in 1974, 1999, and 2012.
|Climate data for Cincinnati (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Int'l), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1871–present|
|Record high °F (°C)||77
|Average high °F (°C)||38.7
|Average low °F (°C)||23.0
|Record low °F (°C)||−25
|Precipitation inches (mm)||3.00
|Snowfall inches (cm)||6.5
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||12.4||11.6||12.5||12.7||12.8||11.5||10.6||9.1||7.7||8.4||10.6||12.5||132.4|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||6.5||5.4||2.4||0.6||0.1||0||0||0||0||0.1||0.8||4.9||20.8|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)|
Cincinnati includes 22 miles (35 km) of riverfront along the northern banks of the Ohio River, stretching from California to Sayler Park, giving the river and its movements a prominent place in the life of the city. Frequent flooding has hampered the growth of Cincinnati's municipal airport at Lunken Field and the Coney Island amusement park. Downtown Cincinnati is protected from flooding by the Serpentine Wall at Yeatman's Cove and another flood wall built into Fort Washington Way. Parts of Cincinnati also experience flooding from the Little Miami River and Mill Creek.
Since April 1, 1922, the Ohio River's flood stage at Cincinnati has officially been set at 52 feet (16 m), as measured from the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge. At this depth, the pumping station at the mouth of Mill Creek is activated. From 1873 to 1898, the flood stage was 45 feet (14 m). From 1899 to March 31, 1922, it was 50 feet (15 m). The Ohio River reached its lowest level, less than 2 feet (0.61 m), in 1881; conversely, its all-time high water mark is 79 feet 11 7⁄8 inches (24.381 m), having crested on January 26, 1937, during the Flood of 1937. Various parts of Cincinnati flood at different points: Riverbend Music Center in the California neighborhood floods at 42 feet (13 m), while Sayler Park floods at 71 feet (22 m) and the Freeman Avenue flood gate closes at 75 feet (23 m).
|Black or African American||44.8%||42.9%||37.9%||27.6%||15.5%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||2.8%||1.3%||0.7%||0.6%||n/a|
For several decades the Census Bureau had been reporting a steady decline in the city's population as residents moved out to new suburbs in the postwar years, aided by newly built highways. In addition, industrial restructuring cost a loss of jobs in the late 20th century. But, according to the Census Bureau's 2006 estimates, the population was 332,252, representing an increase from 331,310 in 2005. The city had officially challenged the original census numbers. In addition, Mayor Mark Mallory has repeatedly argued that the city's population is 378,259, after a drill-down study was performed by an independent, non-profit group based in Washington, D.C.
As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 2014 estimate, the population was 298,165, down nearly 35,000 from 2006 but up slightly from 296,918 in July 2010.
As of the 2010 census, the racial demographics for the city of Cincinnati were: 49.3% white (48.1% non-Hispanic white), 44.8% black or African-American, 0.3% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 1.8% Asian, 0.1% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 2.5% two or more races, and 2.8% Hispanic (of any race).
As of the 2000 census, the Cincinnati-Middletown−Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of 2,155,137 people, making it the 24th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country. It includes the Ohio counties of Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, and Brown, as well as the Kentucky counties of Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, and Pendleton, and the Indiana counties of Dearborn, Franklin, and Ohio.
Because of its location on the Ohio River, Cincinnati was a border town in a free state, across from Kentucky, a slave state. Some residents of Cincinnati played a major role in abolitionism. Many fugitive slaves used the Ohio River at Cincinnati to escape to the North. Cincinnati had numerous stations on the Underground Railroad, but there were also slave catchers active in the city, who put escaping slaves at risk of recapture.
Given its southern Ohio location, Cincinnati had also attracted settlers from the Upper South, who traveled along the Ohio River into the territory. Tensions between abolitionists and slavery supporters broke out in repeated violence, with whites attacking blacks in 1829. Anti-abolitionists attacked blacks in the city in a wave of destruction that resulted in 1,200 blacks leaving the city and the country; they resettled in Canada. The riot and its refugees were a topic of discussion throughout the nation, and blacks organized the first Negro Convention in 1830 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to discuss these events.
White riots against blacks took place again in Cincinnati in 1836 and 1842. In 1836, a mob of 700 pro-slavery men attacked black neighborhoods, as well as a press run by James M. Birney, publisher of the anti-slavery weekly The Philanthropist. Tensions increased after congressional passage in 1850 of the Fugitive Slave Act, which required cooperation by citizens in free states and increased penalties for failing to try to recapture escaped slaves.
Levi Coffin made the Cincinnati area the center of his anti-slavery efforts in 1847. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in Cincinnati for a time, met escaped slaves, and used their stories as a basis for her watershed novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which opened in 2004 on the Cincinnati riverfront in the middle of "The Banks" area between Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium, commemorates the volunteers who aided refugee slaves and their drive for freedom, as well as others who have been leaders for social justice.
Located in a free state and attracting many European immigrants, Cincinnati has historically had a predominantly white population. By 1940, the Census Bureau reported the city's population as 87.8 percent white and 12.2 percent black.
In the second half of the 20th century, Cincinnati, along with other rust belt cities, underwent a vast demographic transformation. By the early 21st century, the city was 40 percent black. Predominantly white, working-class families who had filled the urban core during the European immigration boom in the 19th and early 20th centuries, moved to newly constructed suburbs before and after World War II. Blacks, fleeing the oppression of the Jim Crow South in hopes of better socioeconomic opportunity, had filled these older city neighborhoods in their Great Migration to the industrial North. The downturn in industry in the late 20th century caused a loss of many jobs, leaving many people stuck in poverty. In 1968, passage of national civil rights legislation had raised hopes for positive change, but the assassination of national leader Martin Luther King, Jr. resulted in riots in many black neighborhoods in Cincinnati; black riots took place in nearly every major U.S. city after King's murder.
Arts and culture
Cincinnati's culture is strongly influenced by its history of German and Irish immigrants and its geographical position on the border of the Southern United States and Midwestern United States. In the mid to late nineteenth century, Cincinnati became a major destination for German and Irish immigrants. In 1830 residents with German roots made up 5 percent of the population, as many had migrated from Pennsylvania; ten years later the number had risen to 30 percent. Thousands of German immigrants entered the city after the revolutions in the German states in 1848 and by 1900, more than 60 percent of its population was of German background.
Cincinnati's Jewish community was developed by immigrants from England and Germany.
Fountain Square serves as one of the cultural cornerstones of the region.
Cincinnati's food specialities reflect the city's German heritage. Many restaurants specialize in schnitzels and in Bavarian cooking, as many immigrants originated in southern Germany. Two annual festivals focus on traditional German foods: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, billed as the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside Munich, and Bockfest, the oldest German-style bock-beer festival in the United States.
Cincinnati has many[quantify] gourmet restaurants. The Maisonette in Cincinnati had the distinction of being Mobil Travel Guide's longest-running five-star restaurant in the United States of America, holding that distinction for 41 consecutive years until it closed in 2005. Jean-Robert de Cavel has opened four new restaurants in the area since 2001, including Jean-Robert's at Pigall's; this closed in March 2009.
One of America's oldest and most celebrated bars, Arnold's Bar and Grill in Downtown Cincinnati has won awards and accolades from several national and regional media publications, including Esquire magazine's "Best Bars in America", Thrillist's "Most Iconic Bar in Ohio", The Daily Meal's "150 Best bars in America" and Seriouseats.com's "The Cincinnati 10". America's Foremost Cocktail Guru, David Wondrich stated that "if Arnold's were in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, or Boston – somewhere, in short, that people actually visit – it would be world-famous."
Cincinnati is noted for two unique foods common in the area but seldom found outside Greater Cincinnati: Cincinnati chili, and Goetta.
Cincinnati chili, a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce served over spaghetti or hot dogs, is the area's "best-known regional food." Several chains serve it, including Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, and Dixie Chili and Deli, plus independent chili-parlors including Camp Washington Chili. Cincinnati has been called the "Chili Capital of America" and "of the World" because it has more chili restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States or in the world.
Goetta is a German-inspired meat-and-grain sausage made of ground pork and pinhead oatmeal, usually fried and eaten as a breakfast food.
Cincinnati hosts a number of large annual events. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Bockfest, and the Taste of Cincinnati that feature local restaurateurs. Music-related events include the Cincinnati May Festival, MidPoint Music Festival, and Cincinnati Bell/WEBN Riverfest. The Flying Pig Marathon is an annual event attracting many serious and amateur runners. Tall Stacks, held every three or four years, celebrates the city's riverboat heritage.
Cincinnati lies at the periphery of a region that speaks Midland American English, a dialect closely associated with General American. Unlike the rest of the Midwest, Southwest Ohio shares some aspects of its vowel system with northern New Jersey English. However, the most distinctive local features have gradually diminished among younger speakers in favor of Midland American. There is also some influence from the Southern American dialect found in Kentucky.
An element of German culture remains audible in the local vernacular: some residents use the word please when asking a speaker to repeat a statement. This usage is taken from the German practice, when bitte (a shortening of the formal, "Wie bitte?" or "How please?" rendered word for word from German into English), was used as shorthand for asking someone to repeat.
Professional theatre has operated in Cincinnati since at least as early as the 1800s. the world), and the Mariemont Players.
In 2015, Cincinnati held the USITT 2015 Conference and Stage Expo at the Duke Energy Convention Center, bringing 5,000+ students, university educators, theatrical designers and performers, and other personnel to the city.
Transportation in Cincinnati is dominated by private automobiles, although the city grew rapidly during the streetcar era of the 1800s and early 1900s. Public transit ridership has been in decline for at least several decades and bicycles and walking account for a relatively small portion of all trips. Like many other midwestern cities, however, bicycle use is growing fairly rapidly in the 2000s and 2010s.
In 1916 the mayor of Cincinnati and its citizens voted to spend $6 million to build the Cincinnati Subway. The subway was planned to be a 16-mile loop from Downtown to Norwood to Oakley and back to the east side of Downtown. World War I delayed the construction in 1920 and inflation raised the costs causing the Oakley portion never to be built. Mayor Seasongood who took office later on argued it would cost too much money to finish the system. A century later, the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar line, which opened for service on September 9, 2016, crosses directly above the unfinished subway on Central Parkway downtown.
The Riverfront Transit Center, built under 2nd Street, is about the size of eight football fields. It is only used for sports games and school field trips. When it was built, it was designed for public transit buses, charter buses, school buses, inter-city coach buses, light rail, and possibly commuter rail. On days it is not in use for sports games, it is closed off and rented to a private parking vendor.
The Cincinnati Streetcar project experienced railcar-manufacturing delays and initial funding issues, but was completed on-time and within its budget in mid-2016.
Cincinnati is served by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) and the Clermont Transportation Connection. SORTA and TANK primarily operate 40-foot diesel buses, though some lines are served by longer articulated or hybrid-engine buses. In 2012–16, Cincinnati constructed a streetcar line in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. This modern version of the streetcar opened in September 2016.
The city is served by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (IATA: CVG) which is actually located in Hebron, Kentucky. The airport is a hub for Delta Air Lines and express mail service company DHL Express, in addition the airport is a focus city for Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines. Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport (IATA: LUK), has daily service on commercial charter flights, and is located in Ohio. The airport serves as hub for Ultimate Air Shuttle and Flamingo Air.
Megabus and Greyhound as well as several other, smaller motor coach companies operate out of Cincinnati, making trips within the midwest or beyond.
The city has an outer-belt, Interstate 275 (which is the longest circle highway in the country at 85 miles) and a spur, Interstate 471, to Kentucky. It is also served by Interstate 71, Interstate 74, Interstate 75 and numerous U.S. highways: US 22, US 25, US 27, US 42, US 50, US 52, and US 127.
A system of public staircases known as the Steps of Cincinnati guides pedestrians up and down the many hills in the city. In addition to practical use linking hillside neighborhoods, the 400 stairways provide visitors scenic views of the Cincinnati area.
Cincinnati has nine sister cities.
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