We’re going to take a break from Over the Rhine to visit Mount Adams, an example of a successful community fit into a tight space. As the name implies, and as can be seen above in the historic photograph, the steep slopes of the hill have kept the outcropping isolated northeast of downtown Cincinnati. Eden Park stretches off to the north of the hill.
One of the reasons I hate interstates is the horrible damage they do to the urban fabric of communities, often destroying thousands across America permanently. I could barely find Mount Adams, even at one point ending up in Newport, Kentucky, across the Ohio River because the interstates are so poorly designed and wrap around the hill so badly. But eventually I found the street that wends its way up the steep incline, passing under this bridge and then over it. You can see Pilgrim Presbyterian Church off in the distance.
The views of downtown are impressive, and the desirability of the neighborhood, once home to German and Irish immigrants who tended vineyards on the steep slopes, is obvious.
Over the Rhine is viewed over to the west from Mount Adams, which was originally known as Mount Ida (preserved in a street name), before being renamed in honor John Quincy Adams after the former president visited the area.
The houses are small and tightly packed, following the normal progression of styles that any major Midwestern city follows through the Nineteenth Century.
While not the perfect comparison, it sort of reminds me of the Montmartre district of Paris, where the tight confines of a hilltop prevent the normal urban streetgrid of the rest of their respective cities. Obviously Montmartre is much more famous for its artists and culture, but Mount Adams certainly is rich in history.
What I find interesting about the hills around downtown Cincinnati is the new construction, and sometimes just fallow land. There is much new construction, which I suspect took the place of older housing.
I actually like this new Modernist condo building, though I don’t know the point of putting the Tuscan capitals on those two columns.
A lot of the construction reminds me of the rough and tumble houses of the former clay mining parts of St. Louis, where the wood frame homes still survive.
Here’s the German Catholic church, which survived downsizing
More half flounders in this neighborhood, as well.
And some skinny houses which remind of Naples, Italy.
There are some brightly colored houses with stores on the first floor, as well. Restaurants serve the community which is hard to access and leave.
But good God, man. There are more colors in the world than shades of gray. A friend of mine shared an article about how horribly boring the color palette is becoming in America. Case in point.
The Passionists hosted the Irish Catholics out of their monastic church, at the summit below. They disbanded after a lack of recruitment.
More gray, and then some more gray.
Luckily the shop and restaurant owners in the heart of the small commercial district understand the importance of bright colors in attracting customers and making people’s day more interesting.
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Now Mount Adams is gentrification turned up to 11. It was Cincinnati’s original hip, bohemian, artistic neighborhood. Artists and historic preservationists started moving there in the 1950s, to a neighborhood that had been solidly working class and had a charm imbued through patinated buildings and striking topography. Look at Caroline Williams’s drawings from that era. At least the topography is still there. The current grey vinyl wrapping Mount Adams recently started sporting is a physical manifestation of that population change, a change that happened quite a while ago but took some time to be reflected in the neighborhood’s appearance.
Over-the-Rhine will look like Mount Adams in a decade or two. They already have a similar population demographic. The difference is that Mount Adams had the intermediate population of historic preservationists and urban pioneers; they were the ones who popularized the place. Over-the-Rhine went directly from abandonment to young urban professionals since its transformation was one big scheme by 3CDC and various corporate developers.
Yeah, I definitely got the impression it was not much of a working class neighborhood anymore. Average income is $100,000 today, I read.