10 Years Later: How Cincinnati Healed Its City Core — and Its Reputation

Just over 10 years ago, Cincinnati was in chaos. Race riots sparked by incidents of policy brutality erupted not far from the University of Cincinnati in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. That is the kind of thing that some cities never recover from, the kind of thing that can brand a city as a combustible node of raw and ugly tensions.

Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood: riot zone to revitalized in 10 short years. Photo: Rust Wire

But a little over a decade later, a remarkable transformation has taken place. Over-the-Rhine is a hotbed of new investment. Both the university and downtown are on the upswing.

John Yung at Network blog Urban Cincy takes a look at how greater Cincinnati’s leaders came together to build a healthier central city:

The Center City Plan was conceived in 2002 by consultants as a report to the city’s Economic Development Task Force. What the plan did is lay out a vision and way forward for the city to begin restoring the vitality of its largest economic center.

The task force made 23 recommendations, in total, including the creation of a one-stop permit shop, establishment of the Port Authority as an economic development agency, and the formation of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC).

Of the many recommendations that stem from the Center City Plan, nearly all of them have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented today. The success of the plan, and those implementing it, can be seen every time a new project breaks ground, a new business opens shop, or a new cultural attraction takes root.

My, how far things have come. In ten years time, the city center has experienced a resurrection from what appeared to be a near death experience. Fountain Square now attracts concerts and events, The Banks has become reality, Over-the-Rhine is being revitalized before our eyes, and it seems like every day there is a new project, a new store, a new cultural amenity, or a new festival choosing the downtown area.

More Midwestern cities could benefit from making the vitality of their urban cores a top regional priority. Kudos to Cincy for showing the way!

Elsewhere on the Network today: M-bike.org celebrates some of Detroit’s top female cycling leaders. Baltimore Spokes shares some telling quotes from children who took part in a Ciclovia event in the north part of the city. And WalkBikeJersey rallies supporters for a push to allow bikes on NJ Transit trains.