Cincinnati: The Queen City
I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Cincinnati, the Queen City, on my way to a longer trip through Kentucky. What struck me the most about this lovely city that got its name from the Roman emperor, Cincinnatus (apparently Cincinnati has 7 hills similiar to Rome's 7 hills), was what a tremendous job the city has done building up its waterfront, bike infrastructure, and citywide art initiatives. The city was blanketed with gigantic murals that took up the entire side of 15 story buildings, including bright murals of James Brown, Cincinnatus, and 80-s themed pop culture. The waterfront was lined with chair swings for relaxing, exercise equipment, and many fountains where dozens of children played instead of going to the pool. Each night, I enjoyed sitting on the swings and watching gigantic tugboats and steam boats pass under the Roebling Suspension Bridge, which connects Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky. The bridge greatly resembles the Brooklyn Bridge, built by the same engineer, John Roebling, 30 years later.
Much of my days were spent biking around the city using the public bike share system, Red Bike, priced at a very reasonable $7 for 24 hours. I rode about 40 miles through Cincinnati, over the Roebling Bridge into Covington and the "Purple People Bridge" (pedestrians and cyclists, only!) to Newport, Kentucky, small lovely cities that also have bike share stations. An old gentleman with a handlebar mustache and glass of Kentucky bourbon directed me to the admiral's row, the area where the old steam boat admiral's lived in still-well-maintained homes on tree-lined streets.
Locals informed me that Cincinnati is famous for its roller coasters so I spent a day at Kings Island amusement park and an afternoon hiking gorgeous hills and trails in the Cincinnati Nature Center. I also visited the controversial but very well-designed and highly-attended Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The museum recently added a scale-model of the ark (appropriately called The Ark), about an hour further south but I didn't visit it. My personal highlight of Cincinnati was visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which housed an impressive collection of exhibits on slavery, the underground railroad, civil rights, and various current social justice struggles.