At the end of our Iconic Cincinnati tour last Wednesday, we went up to the top of the Carew Tower for a bird’s eye view of Cincinnati and the surrounding hills.
From the top of the Carew Tower if you look south across the Ohio River, and slightly east, you’ll see the mouth of the Licking River. When Cincinnati was founded in 1788, it was originally named Losantiville, or “town opposite the mouth of the Licking River.” Just two years later, the Governor of the Northwest Territory, General Arthur St. Clair, renamed it Cincinnati after the Society of Cincinnati, an organization of Revolutionary War officers. (WiseGeek.com)
Covington, Kentucky lies to west (or right in this photo) of the Licking River and Newport, Kentucky to the east. The front of a barge, a familiar sight in Cincinnati, can be seen entering the photograph to the right. The structure in the bottom left corner of the photo is the Red’s home stadium, the Great American Ball Park. You can see photos of the inside of the stadium at my Take me out to the ballgame post.
On this side of the river, you can see the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a museum devoted to “the Underground Railroad” and programs that educate the public about modern slavery and human trafficking. On the northern shore of the Ohio River, Cincinnati has a heritage of aiding freedom-seekers as some Cincinnatians played an important role in the Underground Railroad and aided former slaves once they made their way across the river to freedom.
If you shift slightly left in a counter-clockwise direction, you can see Cincinnati’s downtown area across from the Licking River. The Great American Ball Park is partially visible behind the towering office building. Restaurants have started popping up to the right of the ballpark in the area known as The Banks where The Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park has recently opened. If you look closely you can see a spot of green to the right of the ballpark, headed towards the river. I think that’s part of the Smale Park with its waterfalls and kid-friendly fountains.
The US Bank Arena, where we saw the opening ceremony of the World Choir Games is on the left side of the ballpark.
The Great American Tower, with its tiara, recently bumped the Carew Tower from its place as the tallest building in Cincinnati. The Great American Tower is 665 feet tall and has 41 floors above ground. The Carew Tower at 623 feet tall, with 49 floors above ground still provides the highest look-out spot in the city. (Emporis.com)
You can see three bridges across the Ohio River from this vantage point. The small purple one, partially hidden behind the The Great American Tower, is the historic Purple People Bridge,
There used to be walking tours across the top of this bridge. I don’t know if they’re being done anymore. The Purple People Bridge leads right to Newport on the Levee, a complex of restaurants and entertainment venues.
Cincinnati sits like a flat platter surrounded by hilly terrain just outside the downtown area. As the city grew, folks started moving up and settling on the surrounding hills. Legend has it that Cincinnati was built on seven hills, like Rome. Exactly which of the many hills surrounding the city are the seven hills has been debated over the years. Cincinnati.com answers that question based on a 1958 Enquirer report and lists the seven hills as Mount Adams, Mount Auburn, Walnut Hills, Fairmount, Fairview Heights, Clifton Heights, and Price Hill. I’ll point out some of these below.
A slight turn to the left and in the foreground you see the Procter and Gamble headquarters partly hidden behind the tall office building. The green park in the center of the picture is a beautiful park in front of the headquarters’ twin towers building. The dense green around the perimeter is not bushes, as you might imagine, but wisteria growing on a pergola.
Further out you see the Ohio River winding its way east. Just before the bend, Mount Adams is visible, although its elevation is not evident from this perspective. Holy Cross-Immaculata Church, discernible if you have excellent eye-sight, sits up on a hill overlooking the river. Anyone who has prayed the steps up from the river on Good Friday can tell you that it is indeed up on a hilltop.
You can see the Immaculata on Mount Adams a little better in this cropped and enlarged photo. View my night shot of the Immaculata here.
When you turn about 90 degrees counter-clockwise from the river and look down, you get this nice perspective of the Genius of Water on Fountain Square, that I described in great detail on my Iconic Cincinnati post.
Another little turn counter-clockwise and Mount Auburn comes into view rising above the Over the Rhine area in downtown Cincinnati that I wrote about in The Art Academy of Cincinnati. The big brick building at the top of Mount Auburn is Christ Hospital where three of our four children were born.
At the bottom of the photo the white steeple of St. Mary’s Church is visible.
You can read a short history about the Germans who settled in Cincinnati, the Over the Rhine area, and old St. Mary’s Church at OldStMarys.Org.
Looking off to the left, still within the Over the Rhine community, St. Francis Seraph Church (with its clock tower and circular window) is visible on the spot where the first Catholic Church within Cincinnati, St. Xavier, was originally built and then moved to its downtown location. I photographed St. Xavier while on the Iconic Cincinnati tour.
As you continue on your counter-clockwise viewing of Cincinnati, you’ll see Clifton Heights rise up above Over the Rhine. The oddly shaped concrete building, along with many of the surrounding buildings, is part of the University of Cincinnati.
You’ll be facing mostly north now, and will be able to see The Singing Mural, also done by Artworks in 2011. The cast of characters on this mural represent the community coming together in celebration of the arts. You might recognize: Sesame Street’s Grover, the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, rock artist Elton John, jazz singer Cab Calloway, legendary composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the Nutcracker, PBS icon Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Redlegs. You can see the complete list of characters at The Singing Mural.
A little turn to the left and Cincinnati City Hall‘s unique architecture stands out surrounded by contemporary buildings. City Hall’s main building comprises four and a half stories with a nine story clock tower. It is listed in the National Register of historic buildings.
Directly west you will see a tangle of highways. The road at the bottom left corner is the 6th Street viaduct that crosses over I-75 north and takes you to Price Hill, one of the seven initial hills. The 8th Street viaduct runs bottom to top at the center of this photograph, also taking travelers to Price Hill. The far end of the 8th Street viaduct is the location where the Price Hill incline used to be. The inclines that were built to transport travelers from the downtown area up to the surrounding hills are interesting and deserve a post all of their own.
At the top of the hill at the end of the 8th Street viaduct, the Queen’s Tower stands alone. It is a high-rise condominium building with an excellent restaurant, the Prima Vista, on top that affords a terrific view and dining experience.
I-75, the main north-south artery running through Cincinnati, crosses under the 8th Street viaduct in the lower right corner of this photo.
If you follow I-75 north a short distance you will see the Union Terminal that I wrote about in The Cincinnati Museum Center post.
Turn your feet just a bit more counter-clockwise and you’ll see the Ohio River winding its way west towards Indiana.
When you come full circle, you’ll see the historic Roebling Bridge crossing the Ohio River into Covington, Kentucky. This suspension bridge was placed on the National Record of Historic places in 1975. There is an excellent photo history of the bridge at Cincinnati-transit.net.
I lived here in the Cincinnati area for more than 30 years and didn’t know about this lookout point on top of the Carew Tower until I took the Iconic Cincinnati tour.
Did you ever wonder what you don’t know about where you live?