Over-the-Rhine Historic District
|Location||Roughly bounded by Dorsey, Sycamore, Eleanor, Reading, Central Pkwy, McMicken Ave., and Vine streets, Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Area||319 acres (1.29 km2)|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival and Late Victorian|
|Governing body||Local, Private and State|
|NRHP Reference #||83001985|
|Added to NRHP||May 17, 1983|
Over-the-Rhine, sometimes abbreviated OTR, is a neighborhood in Cincinnati. It is believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the United States. Over-the-Rhine was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 with 943 contributing buildings. It contains the largest collection of Italianate architecture in the United States, and is an example of an intact 19th-century urban neighborhood. It was developed at a time of a high rate of German immigration to Cincinnati, and became the heart of its ethnic German community for decades. When Old St. Mary's Church opened here in 1842, it was the largest church in the Ohio Valley.
Today the neighborhood has a strong arts community, and is home to two arts schools and many theatres and galleries. In the 21st century, it is considered the fastest-growing, trendiest neighborhood in the city; Over-the-Rhine has been voted 'Best Cincinnati Neighborhood' in CityBeat's Best of Cincinnati from 2011-2014. Since the early 2000s, OTR has been experiencing rapid development, with many buildings being rehabilitated for use as apartments, condos and retail spaces. Over-the-Rhine is bordered by the neighborhoods of Downtown, CUF, Prospect Hill, Pendleton, and the West End.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Architecture
- 5 Crime
- 6 Demographics
- 7 In media
- 8 List of annual Events
- 9 List of landmarks
- 10 List of community organizations
- 11 List of notable residents
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The neighborhood's distinctive name comes from its builders and early residents, German immigrants of the mid-19th century. Many walked to work across bridges over the Miami and Erie Canal, which separated the area from downtown Cincinnati. The canal was nicknamed "the Rhine" in reference to the Rhine River in Germany, and the newly settled area north of the canal as "Over the Rhine." In German, the district was called "über den Rhein."
An early reference to the canal as "the Rhine" appears in the 1853 book White, Red, Black, in which traveler Ferenc Pulszky wrote, "The Germans live all together across the Miami Canal, which is, therefore, here jocosely called the 'Rhine.' " In 1875 writer Daniel J. Kenny referred to the area exclusively as "Over the Rhine." He noted, "Germans and Americans alike love to call the district 'Over the Rhine.' " The canal was filled in; it was located at what is now Central Parkway.
Built in the nineteenth century during a period of extensive German immigration, Over-the-Rhine changed as many city residents moved out during the 20th century to newer suburban housing. They were replaced by African Americans who came to the city in the Great Migration. The city and area had lost many of the industrial jobs which once supported its workers. By the end of the century, the area was notable for the poverty of remaining residents.  In 2001 Reason Magazine dubbed it "ground zero in inner-city decline." Since the late 1970s, advocates for historic preservation and low-income housing have struggled over how to preserve the neighborhood without causing mass displacement of the poor.
The 2001 Cincinnati riots brought international attention to Over-the-Rhine, and accelerated a century-long trend of population decline. Low property values enabled developers to buy and renovate a large number of historic buildings. Since 2004 hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in revitalization projects. Reflecting a national trend, since 2006 the crime rate has decreased each year. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, "in just six years, developers have moved Over-the-Rhine from one of America’s poorest, most run-down neighborhoods to among its most promising." The Urban Land Institute described Over-the-Rhine as "the best development in the country right now."
Over-the-Rhine is believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the United States. Because of its size, Over-the-Rhine has several distinct districts. OTR is bisected by Liberty Street. The Northern Liberties and the Brewery District are north of Liberty Street. South of Liberty are the Gateway Quarter and Pendelton.
The Gateway Quarter
The Gateway Quarter is a district of Over-the-Rhine. It is located on the southwest side of Over-the-Rhine, roughly bordered by Central Parkway to the south and west, Main Street to the east, and Liberty Street to the north. It is also sometimes known as "The Gateway". The name "Gateway Quarter" as given to this area by 3CDC and other corporations in an attempt to rebrand the neighborhood, disassociating some of the new retail and residential development from the name "Over-the-Rhine" which many people at the time may have associated most strongly with poverty and racial conflict due to the Cincinnati riots of 2001.
Today, the Gateway Quarter is distinct for its bustling foot traffic and its dozens of shops and high-end restaurants. Most of the recent redevelopment in the area has been a direct result of large and coordinated investments by 3CDC and the City of Cincinnati.
The Brewery District
The area north of liberty street was the heart of Cincinnati's beer brewing industry. Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. began brewing beer in the Brewery District in December, 2010. Christian Moerlein established his first brewing company in Over-the-Rhine in 1853. Eventually the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. became the city’s largest brewery and expanded into the national market. At its height the brewery occupied three entire city blocks. Prohibition brought an end to the company in the 1920s.
Liberty street forms an important social or physical boundary between two fairly distinct parts of the neighborhood. South of Liberty Street, there is much more retail activity, and apartment buildings are being renovated more rapidly. North of liberty, retail is much more limited, primarily contained in the area just around Findlay Market, and many residential buildings are still clearly abandoned.
Until 1849, today's Liberty Street, then called Northern Row, was the corporation line forming Cincinnati's northern boundary. The area north of Northern Row was not subject to municipal law and was, appropriately, called 'The Northern Liberties'.
Over-the-Rhine has been praised for its collection of historic architecture. The New York Times described the neighborhood as having "a scale and grace reminiscent of Greenwich Village in New York." Its architectural significance has also been compared to the French Quarter in New Orleans and the historic districts of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. When Arthur Frommer, founder of the Frommer's travel guides, visited Over-the-Rhine he described it as the most promising urban area for revitalization in the United States, and claimed that its potential for tourism "literally could rival similar prosperous and heavily visited areas."
Most of Over-the-Rhine's ornate brick buildings were built by German immigrants from 1865 to the 1880s. The architecture of Over-the-Rhine reflects the diverse styles of the late nineteenth century—simple vernacular, muted Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne. Most of the buildings in Over-the-Rhine are one of these styles, but there are other odd balls as well. Art Deco is represented by the American Building on Central Parkway, the Germania Building at Twelfth and Walnut streets is ironically one of the few examples of German ornamentation in the neighborhood, Music Hall's mixture of styles is best described as Venetian Gothic, there are a handful of buildings with Gothic architecture, and the new SCPA on Central Parkway is the most notable example of Modern architecture in the neighborhood.
Memorial Hall (Beaux Arts)
In 2011, the Over-the-Rhine Foundation, which works to prevent historic building loss in OTR, won 3rd place in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's nationwide This Place Matters community challenge. In 2006, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has listed the status of Over-the-Rhine as "Endangered." Since 1930, approximately half of Over-the-Rhine's historic buildings have been destroyed. More will follow unless currently deteriorating buildings are repaired. Between 2001 and 2006, the city approved more than 50 "emergency demolitions," which were caused by absentee landlords' allowing their buildings to become so critically dilapidated that the city declared them a danger to the public. Reinvestment could have saved them. Due to the situation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation declared Over-the-Rhine one of Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places in 2006. Over-the-Rhine was included in the 2008 book, Frommer's 500 Places to See Before They Disappear, which noted the district's "shocking state of neglect".
According to research conducted by WCPO in 2001, some of the worst-kept properties are owned by Over-the-Rhine's non-profits, which let the buildings sit vacant and deteriorating because of lack of funds  or volunteers. With some buildings on the verge of collapse, investors and real-estate developers are trying to restore them before deterioration to the point of requiring demolition. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, part of Over-the-Rhine has one of the highest rates of abandoned and vacant homes in the country. They classify it as the sixth hardest area in the nation to get an accurate population count.
In February 2006 the city reported that Over-the-Rhine had the highest crime rate of the city's neighborhoods. Between 2001 and 2006 Over-the-Rhine had the highest number of calls for police service—more than twice the next highest neighborhood. It experienced 606 violent crimes in 2005; no other Cincinnati neighborhood exceeded 243—the average for all other neighborhoods was 65 violent crimes. In 2005 Over-the-Rhine experienced 350 robberies; the average for all other neighborhoods was 38. According to Cincinnati Police, 80% of the suspects arrested in Over-the-Rhine do not live in the community, and the majority of violent crimes in Over-the-Rhine are drug-related.
The number of serious crimes plateaued from 2002 to 2005, after which crime began decreasing at a rapid pace. In 2006 sheriff's deputies were brought in to help patrol the neighborhood. The decrease has been credited to the redevelopment of the area, the increase in population, and the increased presence of the police and sheriff's deputies. Operation Vortex and Ceasefire, a program that reaches out to gang members, were also credited with helping decrease crime. In the summer of 2006 police assembled an élite sixty-man crimefighting squad code-named Vortex. The Vortex unit made "zero tolerance" sweeps of high-crime areas, where they arrested people for misdemeanors, such as jaywalking and loitering, as well as for serious crimes. In its first 25 days the unit made 1,000 arrests. In the first six months of 2009, no calls for emergency help were made. A business owner reported that pan handling and shoplifting in his store dropped 90 percent after he moved from the Central Business District to Over-the-Rhine. Through July 29 of 2009 crime in Over-the-Rhine was down 22% when compared to the same period in 2008.
In 2009 a website, using data collected from 2005 to 2007, ranked a section of Over-the-Rhine north of Liberty Street as, statistically, the "most dangerous neighborhood in the United States." Critics, however, argue that the statistic is "intellectually dishonest" because the data selected to represent Over-the-Rhine focused on a "mostly vacant industrialized strip," and the data used by the website was "old." In July 2009 a rise in prostitution was reported along McMicken Avenue; police said that new development is pushing the women out of other parts of Over-the-Rhine into a smaller area.
As of September 22, 2012, violent crime and property crime in Police District 1, in which Over-the-Rhine resides, had dropped 24% and 17% respectively when compared to 2010.
|*2007 data from Cincinnati Drill Down; 2010 data|
In 2001 there were an estimated 500 vacant buildings in Over-the-Rhine with 2,500 residential units. Of those residential units 278 were condemned as uninhabitable. Also in 2001 the owner-occupancy rate was between 3 and 4 percent compared to the city-wide rate of 39 percent. According to the "Drilldown", a comprehensive analysis of the city's actual population and demographics conducted in 2007, OTR's current population was just 4,970 people. As of the census of 2000, the racial makeup of Over-the-Rhine was 19.4% White, 76.9% African American, and less than 4% of other races. 0.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
The neighborhood's residents comprise roughly 1.2% of the population of the City of Cincinnati.
- In the movie Ides of March, George Clooney plays a politician who campaigns at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine.
- In the movie Traffic (2000), the teenage daughter of the US drug czar becomes addicted to heroin and goes to Over-the-Rhine for drugs.
- Harry's Law (2011), an NBC legal comedy-drama, is set in Over-the-Rhine, though only old stock photos are shown. No filming was done in Over-the-Rhine or Cincinnati.
- Little Man Tate (1991) was filmed in Over-the-Rhine as well as various other Cincinnati locations.
- A Rage in Harlem (1991) was filmed in Over-the-Rhine because the un-gentrified area resembled 1950s Harlem.
- In Eight Men Out (1988) scenes depicting Chicago in 1919 were shot in Over-the-Rhine.
- Over-the-Rhine and other nearby neighborhoods are featured in the 3 Doors Down music video It's Not My Time.
- In the seriocomic American novel A Deserted Place, by Keith Brabender, the artistic community in Over-the Rhine is featured and contrasted against the religious suburbs of Cincinnati..
List of annual Events
Over-the-Rhine is home to several distinctive annual events. A few of them are:
- Cincinnati Fringe Festival Annual - Occurs the two weeks after Memorial Day
- MidPoint Music Festival
- Cincinnati May Festival
- Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Parade from Findlay Market to Fountain Square
List of landmarks
Most of Over-the-Rhine's landmarks are related to the arts and are clustered in one area near Downtown.
- Art Academy of Cincinnati, originally founded in 1869, is a four year arts college with its campus centered around 12th and Jackson streets.
- Cincinnati Music Hall, built in 1878, is a concert theatre that hosts the Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and the Cincinnati May Festival.
- Emery Theatre was built as the original home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Its acoustics were compared to that of Carnegie Hall by the famous conductor Leopold Stokowski. It is currently closed for renovations.
- Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati In Over The Rhine since 1988, a theatre that presents new works and works that are new to the region.
- Findlay Market is the oldest continuously operated public market in Ohio. It is also the site of special events and a farmers' market.
- Know Theatre of Cincinnati a theatre that produces contemporary theatre with new works and regional premeieres. Know Theatre produces the annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival - the largest performing arts festival in Cincinnati.
- Memorial Hall is the home of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the progressive MusicNow festival, and the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
- School for Creative and Performing Arts is the first K-12 selective arts school in the United States. In 2009 the school was the subject of the MTV reality television series Taking the Stage.
- Washington Park, the second oldest park in the city behind Piatt Park, originally established as a burial ground for several small churches.
List of historic churches
- St. Paulus Kirche, 1419 Race Street, German Evangelical Protestant (Oldest Protestant church in the city)
- German Baptist Church, Walnut and Liberty Streets
- Old St. Mary's Church, 123 E. Thirteenth Street
- Philippus United Church of Christ, West Mcmicken and Ohio Avenues
- St. John the Baptist Church, Green and Bremen Streets
- Saint Francis Seraph Church, Vine and Liberty Streets
- St. Paul Church, East 12th and Spring Streets
- Salem United Church of Christ, 1425 Sycamore Street
- Nast Trinity United Methodist Church, 1310 Race Street
- Wesley Chapel, 76 E. McMicken Avenue
- Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 1528 Race Street
List of community organizations
- Over-The-Rhine Chamber of Commerce
- Over-the-Rhine Community Housing - Formed in April 2006 by the merger of two organizations supporting affordable housing.
- Drop Inn Center a homeless shelter which offers chemical dependency treatment.
- Over-the-Rhine Foundation, works to protect OTR's endangered historic structures, preserve its cultural heritage, and promote a physically and socially sustainable neighborhood.
- Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. works to develop the northern half of the neighorhood, with an emphasis on OTR's brewing heritage and the mixed-use neighborhood created by use of the nineteenth-century brewery building stock.
- Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation A non-profit corporation redeveloping much of downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine.
- Over the Rhine Community Council - Since 1970, the council has represented the interests of residents and partnered with other organizations in service to our neighbors in our unique, historic neighborhood.
- Mercy Health - St. John began as St. John Social Service Center in 1936. Now the agency is a comprehensive social service agency providing: shelter for homeless families, emergency food, emergency financial assistance for rent, mortgage and utility, job training and computer instruction, case management, youth development and health care.
- Our Daily Bread
List of notable residents
- Levi Coffin, "President of the Underground Railroad"
- Nick Clooney, journalist and game show host and father of George Clooney
- Ronald Howes, American toy inventor, created the Easy-Bake Oven.
- Venus Ramey, 1944 Miss America winner
- Jim Tarbell, Cincinnati politician
- Buddy Gray, community activist
- Anna Marie Hahn, female serial killer
- Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati City Councilman elected in 2011
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-06-30.
- Over-the-Rhine Foundation. Guide to OTR Architecture. Accessed on 2009-08-13.
- "OHIO - Hamilton County - Historic Districts". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- Quinlivan (2001)
- Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce, Over-the-Rhine Historical Sites
- cincy.com "Over the Rhine :: Arts & Play", Cincy.com, Accessed on 2009-08-19
- "Best of Cincinnati 2011". CityBeat. March 29, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
- Over-the-Rhine Foundation. OTR History. Accessed on June 13, 2009
- Kenny (1875), pg. 130.
- Pulszky, Francis; Theresa Pulszky (1853). White, Red, Black: Sketches of American Society in the United States. New York: Redfield. p. 297.
- Kenny (1875), pg. 129.
- Staley, Sam (November 2001). "Ground Zero in Urban Decline". Reason Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- MAAG, CHRISTOPHER (November 25, 2006). "In Cincinnati, Life Breathes Anew in Riot-Scarred Area". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
- Cincinnati Over-the-Rhine | 3CDC | Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation
- Bernard-Kuhn, Lisa; Baverman, Laura (April 14, 2012). "Over-the-Rhine's transformation far from over". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
- Market History | Findlay Market of Cincinnati, Ohio
- OTR Brewery District | Cincinnati, OH
- OTR Brewery District | Cincinnati, OH
- Newberry, Jon (2010-12-17). "Christian Moerlein brews new ‘Arnold's' beer in OTR".
- Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, OH - iRhine.com - Brewery District
- OTR Foundation Why OTR Matters. Accessed on 2010-08-13.
- Over-the-Rhine Foundation. Historic Preservation. Accessed on 2009-08-13.
- iRhine.com, Over-the-Rhine History, Part 2. Accessed on 2009-08-13
- National Trust for Historic Preservation, 11 Most Endangered: Over-the-Rhine Neighborhood. Accessed on June 13, 2009.
- "2011 This Place Matters Community Challenge". 2011 This Place Matters Community Challenge. National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
- "Now, not soon, is the time to save OTR's historic treasures". Cincinnati Enquirer. January 14, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- Hughes, Holly; Larry West (2008). 500 Places to See Before They Disappear. Frommer's. pp. 346–347. ISBN 0-470-18986-X.
- Quinlivan (2001) 27:58
- Quinlivan (2001) 28:30
- Quinlivan (2001) 12:10
- "OTR, West End a quagmire for census". Cincinnati Enquirer. March 1, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
- City of Cincinnati. Motion. Accessed on 2009-08-08.
- City of Cincinnati. District One 4th Quarter Problem Solving Report 2006. Accessed on 2009-08-08.
- Borchers, Laura (September 5, 2008). "Vortex Unit Targeting Drug Dealers To Catch Killer". WLWT. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
- "Sheriff's Deputies Start Patrols In Crime-Ridden Neighborhood". WLWT. August 1, 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
- "New OTR Development, Residents Push Out Crime". WLWT. March 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
- Seabrook, John (June 22, 2009). "Annals of Crime, Don't Shoot: A radical approach to the problem of gang violence.". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
- "Operation Vortex Targets Crime-Troubled Streets". WLWT. July 5, 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
- "Believers Putting Money in Over-The-Rhine". WKRC. June 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-23.[dead link]
- Cincinnati Police, Crime-Arrest Comparison, Accessed on 2009-08-08.
- Walletpop, Most Dangerous Neighborhoods, Accessed on 2009-06-22.
- "Report: OTR Nation's Most Dangerous Neighborhood". WLWT. June 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
- Marshall, Adam (July 3, 2009). "Is Over-The-Rhine Really That Bad?". WCPO. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
- Osborne, Kevin (June 24, 2009). "Cincinnati Police Should Think Outside the Box". Cincinnati CityBeat. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
- "Neighbors Complain Of Rise In OTR Prostitutes". WLWT. July 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
- "District 1 Crime Statistics, 9/22/2012". City of Cincinnati - Police. Retrieved 10/2/2012. Check date values in:
- Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Bridging the Economic Divide: Cincinnati's Crisis Presents New Opportunities. Fall 2001. Retrieved on 2009-01-11
- "Cincinnati Neighborhood Market DrillDown" (PDF). Social Compact Inc. June 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Over-the-Rhine Film Synopsis
- Kiesewetter, John (January 17, 2011). "Laying down the 'Harry's Law'" (Press release). WCPO.
- William Horberg (November 7, 2008). "The Last Chester Himes Movie? pt 2". Typepad. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
- Art The Academy of Cincinnati. About The Art Academy of Cincinnati. Accessed on 2009-08-23.
- "$3 Million Projected to Reopen the Emery Theatre" (Press release). Emery Center Corporation. October 29, 2008. Retrieved 12/7/2008. Check date values in:
- Gelfand, Janelle (August 31, 1999). "Emery fix-up in the wings : Team works to bring 1911 gem into the 21st century". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- Findlay Market. About Findlay Market. Accessed on 2009-08-23.
- Findlay Market-Historic renovated Cincinnati Public Market and Farmers Market Corporation for Findlay Market, 2007. Accessed 27 May 2007.
- School for Creative and Performing Arts. The New SCPA. Accessed on 2009-08-23.
- Over the Rhine Community Housing — About Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, Accessed 27 May 2007
- Horstman, Barry M. (2010-02-19). "Ronald Howes, inventor of Easy-Bake Oven, dies at 83". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Over-The-Rhine Chamber of Commerce
- Over-the-Rhine Foundation
- OTR Brewery District
- Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC)