In the 19th century, Cincinnati was an American boomtown in the heart of the country; it rivaled the larger coastal cities in size and wealth. Throughout much of the 19th century, it was listed among the top 10 U.S. cities by population, surpassed only by New Orleans and the older, established settlements of the Eastern Seaboard; at one point holding the position of America's sixth-largest city for a period spanning consecutive census reports from 1840 until 1860. It was by far the largest city in the west. Because it is the first major American city founded after the American Revolution as well as the first major inland city in the country, Cincinnati is sometimes thought of as the first purely "American" city.
Cincinnati developed with less European immigration or influence than eastern cities attracted in the same period; however, it received a significant number of German immigrants, who founded many of the city's cultural institutions. By the end of the 19th century, with the shift from steamboats to railroads drawing off freight shipping, trade patterns had altered and Cincinnati's growth slowed considerably. The city was surpassed in population by other inland cities, particularly Chicago, which developed based on commodity exploitation and the railroads, and St. Louis, for decades after the Civil War the gateway to westward migration.
Cincinnati is home to two major sports teams, the Cincinnati Reds, the oldest franchise in Major League Baseball, and the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. The University of Cincinnati, founded in 1819, is one of the 50 largest in the United States. Cincinnati is known for its historic architecture. In the late 1800s, Cincinnati was commonly referred to as "Paris of America", due mainly to such ambitious architectural projects as the Music Hall, Cincinnatian Hotel, and Shillito Department Store. Cincinnati is also the birthplace of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States.
Cincinnati was founded in 1788 when Mathias Denman, Colonel Robert Patterson and Israel Ludlow landed at the spot on the north bank of the Ohio River opposite the mouth of the Licking River and decided to settle there. The original surveyor, John Filson, named it "Losantiville". In 1790, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, changed the name of the settlement to "Cincinnati" in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, made up of Revolutionary War veterans, of which he was a member.
Ethnic Germans were among the early settlers, migrating from Pennsylvania and the backcountry of Virginia and Tennessee. General David Ziegler succeeded General St. Clair in command at Fort Washington. After the conclusion of the Northwest Indian Wars and removal of Native Americans to the west, he was elected as the mayor of Cincinnati in 1802.
The introduction of steamboats on the Ohio River in 1811 opened up its trade to more rapid shipping, and the city established commercial ties with St. Louis, Missouri and especially New Orleans downriver. Cincinnati was incorporated as a city in 1819. Exporting pork products and hay, it became a center of pork processing in the region. From 1810 to 1830 its population nearly tripled, from 9,642 to 24,831. Completion of the Miami and Erie Canal in 1827 to Middletown, Ohio further stimulated businesses, and employers struggled to hire enough people to fill positions. The city had a labor shortage until large waves of immigration by Irish and Germans in the late 1840s. The city grew rapidly over the next two decades, reaching 115,000 persons by 1850.
Construction on the Miami and Erie Canal began on July 21, 1825, when it was called the Miami Canal, related to its origin at the Great Miami River. The first section of the canal was opened for business in 1827. In 1827, the canal connected Cincinnati to nearby Middletown; by 1840, it had reached Toledo. During this period of rapid expansion and prominence, residents of Cincinnati began referring to the city as the "Queen City".
Cincinnati depended on trade with the slave states south of the Ohio River, at a time when thousands of blacks were settling in the free state of Ohio, most from Kentucky and Virginia and some of them fugitives seeking freedom in the North. Many came to find work in Cincinnati. In the antebellum years, the majority of native-born whites in the city came from northern states, primarily Pennsylvania. In 1841 26 percent of whites were from the South and 57 percent from the eastern states, primarily Pennsylvania. They retained their cultural support for slavery. This led to tensions between pro-slavery residents and those in favor of abolitionism and lifting restrictions on free people of color, as codified in the "Black Code" of 1804.
The volatile social conditions produced white-led riots against blacks in 1829, when many blacks lost their homes and property. As Irish immigrants entered the city in the late 1840s, they competed with blacks at the lower levels of the economy. White-led riots against blacks occurred in 1836, when an abolitionist press was twice destroyed; and in 1842. More than one thousand blacks abandoned the city after the 1829 riots. Blacks in Philadelphia and other major cities raised money to help the refugees recover from the destruction. By 1842 blacks had become better established in the city; they defended their persons and property in the riot, and worked politically as well.
After the steamboats, railroads were the next major form of commercial transportation to come to Cincinnati. In 1836, the Little Miami Railroad was chartered. Construction began soon after, to connect Cincinnati with the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, and provide access to the ports of the Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie.
In 1859, Cincinnati laid out six streetcar lines; the cars were pulled by horses and the lines made it easier for people to get around the city. By 1872, Cincinnatians could travel on the streetcars within the city and transfer to rail cars for travel to the hill communities. The Cincinnati Inclined Plane Company began transporting people to the top of Mount Auburn that year.
In 1880, the city government completed the Cincinnati Southern Railway to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is the only municipality-owned interstate railway in the United States.
In 1884, outrage over a manslaughter verdict in what many observers thought was a clear case of murder triggered the Courthouse riots, one of the most destructive riots in American history. Over the course of three days, 56 people were killed and over 300 were injured. The riots ended the regime of political bosses John Roll McLean and Thomas C. Campbell in Cincinnati. In 1889, the Cincinnati streetcar system began converting its horse-drawn cars to electric streetcars.
An early rejuvenation of downtown began in the 1920s and continued into the next decade with the construction of Union Terminal, the post office, and the large Cincinnati and Suburban Telephone Company Building. Cincinnati weathered the Great Depression better than most American cities of its size, largely because of a resurgence in river trade, which was less expensive than transporting goods by rail. The flood of 1937 was one of the worst in the nation's history and destroyed many areas along the Ohio Valley. Afterward the city built protective flood walls.
A major city of the Ohio Valley, Cincinnati is situated on the north bank of the Ohio River in Hamilton County, which is the extreme southwestern county of the state of Ohio. It is midway by river between the cities of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cairo, Illinois. The city lies opposite the mouth of the Licking River, an important factor in its being sited where it is.
Cincinnati's core metro area spans parts of southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 79.54 square miles (206.01 km2), of which 77.94 square miles (201.86 km2) are land and 1.60 square miles (4.14 km2) are water. The city spreads over a number of hills, bluffs, and low ridges overlooking the Ohio River in the Bluegrass region of the country. Cincinnati is geographically located within the Midwest and is on the far northern periphery of the Upland South. Two-thirds of the American population live within a one-day drive of the city.
Three enclaves lie within Cincinnati's city limits: Norwood, Elmwood Place, and Saint Bernard. Norwood is a significant business and industrial city, while Elmwood Place and Saint Bernard are small, primarily residential, villages. Cincinnati does not have an exclave, but the city government does own several properties outside the corporation limits: French Park in Amberley Village, the disused runway at the former Blue Ash Airport in Blue Ash, and the 337-mile-long (542 km) Cincinnati Southern Railway, which runs between Cincinnati and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Downtown Cincinnati is focused around Fountain Square, a public square and event location.
Cincinnati is home to numerous structures that are noteworthy due to their architectural characteristics or historic associations, including the Carew Tower, the Scripps Center, the Ingalls Building, Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, and the Isaac M. Wise Temple.
The city is undergoing significant changes due to new development and private investment. This includes construction of the long-stalled Banks project, which will include apartments, retail, restaurants, and offices and will stretch from Great American Ball Park to Paul Brown Stadium. Phase 1A is already complete and 100 percent occupied as of early 2013. Smale Riverfront Park is being developed along with The Banks and is Cincinnati's newest park. Fountain Square was renovated in 2006. Nearly $3.5 billion has been invested in the urban core of Cincinnati (including Northern Kentucky). Much of this development has been undertaken by 3CDC. A new streetcar system opened in September 2016.
Queen City Square opened in January 2011. The building is the tallest in Cincinnati (surpassing the Carew Tower), and is the third tallest in Ohio, reaching a height of 665 feet. In 2013 the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati opened, the first casino in the city and fourth in the state of Ohio.
The mile-long Cincinnati Skywalk, which was completed in 1997, remains a viable way to traverse downtown on foot in an indoor environment, despite the removal of several segments based on modern urban-development initiatives.
The Cincinnati Zoo in Avondale is the second oldest zoo in the United States.
Cincinnati belongs to a climatic transition zone, at the northern limit of the humid subtropical climate and the southern limit of the humid continental climate zone (Köppen: Cfa/Dfa, respectively). Summers are warm to hot and humid, with significant rainfall in each month and highs reaching 90 °F (32 °C) or above on 21 days per year, often with high dew points and humidity. July is the warmest month, with a daily average temperature of 75.9 °F (24.4 °C).
Winters tend to be cold and snowy, with January, the coldest month, averaging at 30.8 °F (−0.7 °C). Lows reach 0 °F (−18 °C) on an average 2.6 nights annually. An average winter will see around 22.1 inches (56 cm) of snowfall, contributing to the annual 42.5 inches (1,080 mm) of precipitation, with rainfall peaking in spring. Extremes range from −25 °F (−32 °C) on January 18, 1977 up to 108 °F (42 °C) on July 21 and 22, 1934. Severe thunderstorms are common in the warmer months, and tornadoes, while infrequent, are not unknown, with such events striking the Greater Cincinnati area most recently in 1974, 1999, and 2012.
Cincinnati includes 22 miles (35 km) of riverfront along the northern banks of the Ohio River, stretching from California to Sayler Park, giving the river and its movements a prominent place in the life of the city. Frequent flooding has hampered the growth of Cincinnati's municipal airport at Lunken Field and the Coney Island amusement park. Downtown Cincinnati is protected from flooding by the Serpentine Wall at Yeatman's Cove and another flood wall built into Fort Washington Way. Parts of Cincinnati also experience flooding from the Little Miami River and Mill Creek.
Since April 1, 1922, the Ohio River's flood stage at Cincinnati has officially been set at 52 feet (16 m), as measured from the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge. At this depth, the pumping station at the mouth of Mill Creek is activated. From 1873 to 1898, the flood stage was 45 feet (14 m). From 1899 to March 31, 1922, it was 50 feet (15 m). The Ohio River reached its lowest level, less than 2 feet (0.61 m), in 1881; conversely, its all-time high water mark is 79 feet 11 7⁄8 inches (24.381 m), having crested on January 26, 1937, during the Flood of 1937. Various parts of Cincinnati flood at different points: Riverbend Music Center in the California neighborhood floods at 42 feet (13 m), while Sayler Park floods at 71 feet (22 m) and the Freeman Avenue flood gate closes at 75 feet (23 m).
For several decades the Census Bureau had been reporting a steady decline in the city's population as residents moved out to new suburbs in the postwar years, aided by newly built highways. In addition, industrial restructuring cost a loss of jobs in the late 20th century. But, according to the Census Bureau's 2006 estimates, the population was 332,252, representing an increase from 331,310 in 2005. The city had officially challenged the original census numbers. In addition, Mayor Mark Mallory has repeatedly argued that the city's population is 378,259, after a drill-down study was performed by an independent, non-profit group based in Washington, D.C.
As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 2014 estimate, the population was 298,165, down nearly 35,000 from 2006 but up slightly from 296,918 in July 2010.
As of the 2010 census, the racial demographics for the city of Cincinnati were: 49.3% white (48.1% non-Hispanic white), 44.8% black or African-American, 0.3% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 1.8% Asian, 0.1% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 2.5% two or more races, and 2.8% Hispanic (of any race).
As of the 2000 census, the Cincinnati-Middletown−Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of 2,155,137 people, making it the 24th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country. It includes the Ohio counties of Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Clinton and Brown, as well as the Kentucky counties of Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, and Pendleton, and the Indiana counties of Dearborn, Franklin, and Ohio.
Because of its location on the Ohio River, Cincinnati was a border town in a free state, across from Kentucky, a slave state. Some residents of Cincinnati played a major role in abolitionism. Many fugitive slaves used the Ohio River at Cincinnati to escape to the North. Cincinnati had numerous stations on the Underground Railroad, but there were also slave catchers active in the city, who put escaping slaves at risk of recapture.
Given its southern Ohio location, Cincinnati had also attracted settlers from the Upper South, who traveled along the Ohio River into the territory. Tensions between abolitionists and slavery supporters broke out in repeated violence, with whites attacking blacks in 1829. Anti-abolitionists attacked blacks in the city in a wave of destruction that resulted in 1,200 blacks leaving the city and the country; they resettled in Canada. The riot and its refugees were topics of discussion throughout the country, and blacks organized the first Negro Convention in 1830 in Philadelphia to discuss these events.
White riots against blacks took place again in Cincinnati in 1836 and 1842. In 1836, a mob of 700 pro-slavery men attacked black neighborhoods, as well as a press run by James M. Birney, publisher of the anti-slavery weekly The Philanthropist. Tensions increased after congressional passage in 1850 of the Fugitive Slave Act, which required cooperation by citizens in free states and increased penalties for failing to try to recapture escaped slaves.
Levi Coffin made the Cincinnati area the center of his anti-slavery efforts in 1847. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in Cincinnati for a time, met escaped slaves, and used their stories as a basis for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which opened in 2004 on the Cincinnati riverfront in the middle of "The Banks" area between Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium, commemorates the volunteers who aided refugee slaves and their drive for freedom, as well as others who have been leaders for social justice.
Located in a free state and attracting many European immigrants, Cincinnati has historically had a predominantly white population. By 1940, the Census Bureau reported the city's population as 87.8 percent white and 12.2 percent black.
In the second half of the 20th century, Cincinnati, along with other rust belt cities, underwent a vast demographic transformation. By the early 21st century, the city's population was 40% black. Predominantly white, working-class families who constituted the urban core during the European immigration boom in the 19th and early 20th centuries, moved to newly constructed suburbs before and after World War II. Blacks, fleeing the oppression of the Jim Crow South in hopes of better socioeconomic opportunity, had moved to these older city neighborhoods in their Great Migration to the industrial North. The downturn in industry in the late 20th century caused a loss of many jobs, leaving many people in poverty. In 1968, passage of national civil rights legislation had raised hopes for positive change, but the assassination of national leader Martin Luther King, Jr. resulted in riots in many black neighborhoods in Cincinnati; black riots took place in nearly every major U.S. city after King's murder.
More than three decades later, in April 2001, racially charged riots occurred after police fatally shot a young unarmed black man, Timothy Thomas during a foot pursuit to arrest him, mostly for outstanding traffic warrants. After the 2001 riots, the ACLU, Cincinnati Black United Front, city and police union agreed a community-oriented policing strategy. The agreement has been used as a model across the country for building relationships between police and local communities.
On July 19, 2015, Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black motorist, was fatally shot by white University of Cincinnati Police Officer, Ray Tensing after a routine traffic stop for a missing front license plate. The resulting legal proceedings in late 2016 have been a recurring focus of national news media. Several peaceful protests involving the Black Lives Matter movement have been carried out. Tensing was indicted on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter, but a November 2016 trial ended in mistrial after the jury became deadlocked. A retrial began in May 2017, which also ended in mistrial after deadlock. The prosecution then announced they did not plan to try Tensing a third time. The University of Cincinnati has settled with the DuBose family for $4.8 million and free tuition for each of the 12 children.
Cincinnati has the fastest growing economy in the Midwestern United States. The Gross Metro Product is $119 Billion, and median household income is $56,538. The median home price is $152,500, and the cost of living in Cincinnati is 8.2% below national average. The unemployment rate is also below the national average at 4.3%.
Several Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Cincinnati, such as Procter & Gamble, The Kroger Company, and Macy's, Inc., among others. General Electric has headquartered both their GE Aviation business and their Global Operations center in Cincinnati. The Kroger Company employs 21,646 people locally, making it the largest employer in the city, and the University of Cincinnati is the second largest at 16,000.
Cincinnati's culture is strongly influenced by its history of German and Irish immigrants and its geographical position on the border of the Southern United States and Midwestern United States. In the mid to late nineteenth century, Cincinnati became a major destination for German and Irish immigrants. In 1830 residents with German roots made up 5% of the population, as many had migrated from Pennsylvania; ten years later this had increased to 30%. Thousands of German immigrants entered the city after the revolutions in the German states in 1848 and by 1900, more than 60 percent of its population was of German background.
Cincinnati's Jewish community was developed by immigrants from England and Germany. They developed Reform Judaism in response to the influences of the Enlightenment and making their new lives in the United States. Isaac M. Wise Temple was the first Reform Judaism temple to be built, breaking away from Conservative and Orthodox Judaism.
Fountain Square serves as one of the cultural cornerstones of the region.
Cincinnati's food specialities reflect the city's German heritage. Many restaurants specialize in schnitzels and in Bavarian cooking, as many immigrants originated in southern Germany. Two annual festivals focus on traditional German foods: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, billed as the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside Munich, and Bockfest, the oldest German-style bock-beer festival in the United States.
Cincinnati has many gourmet restaurants. The Maisonette in Cincinnati had the distinction of being Mobil Travel Guide's longest-running five-star restaurant in the United States of America, holding that distinction for 41 consecutive years until it closed in 2005. Jean-Robert de Cavel has opened four new restaurants in the area since 2001, including Jean-Robert's at Pigall's; this closed in March 2009.
One of America's oldest and most celebrated bars, Arnold's Bar and Grill in Downtown Cincinnati has won awards and accolades from several national and regional media publications, including Esquire magazine's "Best Bars in America", Thrillist's "Most Iconic Bar in Ohio", The Daily Meal's "150 Best bars in America" and Seriouseats.com's "The Cincinnati 10". America's Foremost Cocktail Guru, David Wondrich stated that "if Arnold's were in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, or Boston – somewhere, in short, that people actually visit – it would be world-famous."
Cincinnati is noted for two foods common in the area but seldom found outside Greater Cincinnati: Cincinnati chili, and Goetta.
Cincinnati chili, a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce served over spaghetti or hot dogs, is the area's "best-known regional food." Several chains serve it, including Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, and Dixie Chili and Deli, plus independent chili-parlors including Camp Washington Chili. Cincinnati has been called the "Chili Capital of America" and "of the World" because it has more chili restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States or in the world.
Goetta is a German-inspired meat-and-grain sausage made of ground pork and pinhead oatmeal, usually fried and eaten as a breakfast food.
Cincinnati hosts a number of large annual events. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Bockfest, and the Taste of Cincinnati that feature local restaurateurs. Music-related events include the Cincinnati May Festival, Bunbury Music Festival, and Cincinnati Bell/WEBN Riverfest. The Flying Pig Marathon is an annual event attracting many serious and amateur runners. Tall Stacks, held every three or four years, celebrates the city's riverboat heritage.
Cincinnati lies at the periphery of a region that speaks Midland American English, a dialect closely associated with General American. Unlike the rest of the Midwest, Southwest Ohio shares some aspects of its vowel system with northern New Jersey English. However, the most distinctive local features have gradually diminished among younger speakers in favor of Midland American. There is also some influence from the Southern American dialect found in Kentucky.
An element of German culture remains audible in the local vernacular: some residents use the word please when asking a speaker to repeat a statement. This usage is taken from the German practice, when bitte (a shortening of the formal, "Wie bitte?" or "How please?" rendered word for word from German into English), was used as shorthand for asking someone to repeat.
Professional theatre has operated in Cincinnati since at least as early as the 1800s. Among the professional companies based in the city are Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, the Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Stage First Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Theatre, Cincinnati Opera, The Performance Gallery and Clear Stage Cincinnati. The city is also home to Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, which hosts regional premieres, and the Aronoff Center, which hosts touring Broadway shows each year via Broadway Across America. The city has community theatres, such as the Cincinnati Young People's Theatre, the Showboat Majestic (which is the last surviving showboat in the United States and possibly the world), and the Mariemont Players.
Since 2011, Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music have partnered to sponsor the Opera Fusion: New Works project. The Opera Fusion: New Works project acts as a program for composers or librettists to workshop an opera in a 10-day residency. This program is headed by the Director of Artistic Operations at Cincinnati Opera, Marcus Küchle, and the Head of Opera at CCM, Robin Guarino.
In 2015, Cincinnati held the USITT 2015 Conference and Stage Expo at the Duke Energy Convention Center, bringing 5,000+ students, university educators, theatrical designers and performers, and other personnel to the city. The USITT Conference is considered the main annual conference for Theatre, Opera, and Dance in the United States.
Cincinnati has two major league teams, eight minor league teams, five college institutions with sports teams, and seven major sports venues. Cincinnati's two major league teams are Major League Baseball's Reds, who were named for America's first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings; and the Bengals of the National Football League. On Major League Baseball Opening Day, Cincinnati has the distinction of holding the "traditional opener" in baseball each year, due to its baseball history. Many children in Cincinnati skip school on Opening Day, which is commonly thought of as a city holiday. The Cincinnati Reds have won five World Series titles and had one of the most successful baseball teams of all time in the early 1970s, known as The Big Red Machine. The Bengals have made two Super Bowl appearances since its founding, in 1981 and 1988, but have yet to win a championship. As of 2016, the Bengals have the longest active playoff win drought (26 years) despite making five straight playoff appearances from 2011 to 2015.
Cincinnati is also home to two very successful men's college basketball teams: the Xavier Musketeers and the Cincinnati Bearcats. Annually, the two teams face off in one of the fiercest college basketball rivalries known as the Crosstown Shootout. In 2011, the rivalry game erupted in an on-court brawl at the end of the game that saw multiple suspensions follow. The Musketeers have made 10 of the last 11 NCAA tournaments while the Bearcats have made six consecutive appearances. Previously, the Cincinnati Royals competed in the National Basketball Association from 1957 to 1972.
FC Cincinnati is a soccer team that plays in the USL. FC Cincinnati made its home debut on April 9, 2016, before a crowd of more than 14,000 fans. On their next home game vs Louisville City FC, FC Cincinnati broke the all-time USL attendance record with a crowd of 20,497; on May 14, 2016, it broke its own record, bringing in an audience of 23,375 on its 1–0 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Cincinnati is home to three other professional soccer teams—two outdoor teams, the Cincinnati Kings (men's) and Cincinnati LadyHawks (women's), and one indoor team, the Cincinnati Excite (men's).
The table below shows sports teams in the Cincinnati area that average more than 5,000 fans per game:
The Cincinnati Masters, an historic international men's and women's tennis tournament that is part of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Series and the WTA Tour Premier 5, was established in the city in 1899, and has been held in suburban Mason since 1979.
The Cincinnati Sizzle is a women's minor professional tackle football team that plays in the Women's Football Alliance. The team was established in 2003, by former Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods. In 2016 the team claimed their first National Championship Title in the United States Women's Football League.
The Cincinnati Cyclones are a minor league AA-level professional hockey team playing in the ECHL. Founded in 1990, the team play at U.S. Bank Arena. They won the 2010 Kelly Cup Finals, their 2nd championship in three seasons. Cincinnati is also home to the first American based Australian rules football team, The Cincinnati Dockers, established in 1996.
The city is governed by a nine-member city council, whose members are elected at-large. Prior to 1924, city council members were elected through a system of wards. The ward system was subject to corruption and as with any one-party dominance, abuses arose. From the 1880s to the 1920s, the Republican Party dominated city politics, with the political machine of "Boss" Cox exerting control.
A reform movement arose in 1923, led by another Republican, Murray Seasongood. Seasongood founded the Charter Committee, which used ballot initiatives in 1924 to replace the ward system with the current at-large system. They gained approval by voters for a council–manager government form of government, in which the smaller council (compared to the number of previous ward representatives) hires a professional manager to operate daily affairs of the city. From 1924 to 1957, the council was elected by proportional representation and single transfer voting (STV). Starting with Ashtabula in 1915, several major cities in Ohio adopted this electoral system, which had the practical effect of reducing ward boss and political party power. For that reason, such groups opposed it.
In an effort to overturn the charter that provided for proportional representation, opponents in 1957 fanned fears of black political power, at a time of increasing civil rights activism. The PR/STV system had enabled minorities to enter local politics and gain seats on the city council more than they had before, in proportion to their share of the population. This made the government more representative of the residents of the city.
Overturning that charter, in 1957, all candidates had to run in a single race for the nine city council positions. The top nine vote-getters were elected (the "9-X system"), which favored candidates who could appeal to the entire geographic area of the city and reach its residents with campaign materials. The mayor was elected by the council. In 1977, thirty-three-year-old Jerry Springer, later a notable television talk show host, was chosen to serve one year as mayor.
Residents continued to work to improve their system. To have their votes count more, starting in 1987, the top vote-getter in the city council election was automatically selected as mayor. Starting in 1999, the mayor was elected separately in a general at-large election for the first time. The city manager's role in government was reduced. These reforms were referred to as the "strong mayor" reforms, to make the city government accountable to voters. Cincinnati politics include the participation of the Charter Party, the party with the third-longest history of winning in local elections.
The current mayor of Cincinnati is John Cranley. The nine-member city council is composed of Vice-Mayor David Mann and Councilmembers Yvette Simpson (President Pro-Tem), Kevin Flynn, Amy Murray, Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld, Christopher Smitherman, Charlie Winburn, and Wendell Young.
Cincinnati also hosts the federal government. The NRHP-listed Potter Stewart United States Courthouse is a federal court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. It is one of thirteen United States courts of appeals. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Cincinnati Branch is located across the street from the East Fourth Street Historic District.
The city of Cincinnati's emergency services for fire, rescue, EMS, hazardous materials and explosive ordnance disposal is handled by the Cincinnati Fire Department. On April 1, 1853, the Cincinnati Fire Department became the first paid professional fire department in the United States. The Cincinnati Fire Department operates out of 26 fire stations, located throughout the city in 4 districts, each commanded by a district chief.
The Cincinnati Fire Department is organized into 4 bureaus: Operations, Personnel and Training, Administrative Services, and Fire Prevention. Each bureau is commanded by an assistant chief, who in turn reports to the chief of department.
The Cincinnati Police Department has more than 1,000 sworn officers. Before the riots of 2001, Cincinnati's overall crime rate had been dropping steadily and by 1995 had reached its lowest point since 1992 but with more murders and rapes. After the riot, violent crime increased, but crime has been on the decline since. In 2015, there were 71 homicides.
The Cincinnati Public School (CPS) district includes 16 high schools accepting students on a citywide basis. CPS is the third-largest Ohio school district by student population, and the largest one to garner an overall 'effective' rating from the state. The district includes public Montessori schools, including the first public Montessori high school established in the United States, Clark Montessori. Cincinnati Public Schools' top-rated school is Walnut Hills High School, ranked 34th on the national list of best public schools by Newsweek. Walnut Hills offers 28 Advanced Placement courses. Cincinnati is also home to the first Kindergarten – 12th grade Arts School in the country, The School for Creative and Performing Arts.
The Cincinnati area has one of the highest private school attendance rates in the United States; Hamilton County ranks second to St. Louis County, Missouri among the country's 100 largest counties.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati operates 10 high schools in Cincinnati; six of which are single-sex: there are four all-female schools and two all-male high schools in the city, with additional schools in the metro areas. and six all-female high schools
The Jewish community has several schools, including the all-girl RITSS (Regional Institute for Torah and Secular Studies) high school, and the all-boy Yeshivas Lubavitch High School. Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), founded by Isaac Mayer Wise, is a seminary for training of Reform rabbis and others religious.
Cincinnati is home to the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. The University of Cincinnati, often referred to as "UC", is one of the United States' major graduate research institutions in engineering, music, nursing, architecture, classical archaeology, and psychology. The University of Cincinnati Medical Center is highly regarded, as well as the College of Nursing, and College Conservatory of Music, which has many notable alumni, including Kathleen Battle, Al Hirt and Faith Prince. Xavier University, a Jesuit university, was at one time affiliated with The Athenaeum of Ohio, the seminary of the Cincinnati Archdiocese.
Antonelli College, a career training school, is based in Cincinnati with several satellite campuses in Ohio and Mississippi. Cincinnati State is a community college that includes the Midwest Culinary School. Also located in Cincinnati are Cincinnati Christian University and Chatfield College, a Catholic two-year college, located in Downtown.
In 2009, Cincinnati was listed fourth on CNN's Top 10 cities for new grads. Keeping college graduates is an important goal of the city, on which it bases its future.
The city has an extensive library system, both the city's public one and university facilities. In 1998, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was the third-largest public library nationally.
Cincinnati is served by The Cincinnati Enquirer, a daily newspaper. The city is home to several alternative, weekly, and monthly publications, as well as twelve television stations and many radio stations. Free weekly print magazine publications include CityBeat and La Jornada Latina.
A Rage in Harlem was filmed entirely in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Over the Rhine because of its similarity to 1950s Harlem. Movies that were filmed in part in Cincinnati include The Best Years of Our Lives (aerial footage early in the film), Ides of March, Fresh Horses, The Asphalt Jungle (the opening is shot from the Public Landing and takes place in Cincinnati although only Boone County, Kentucky is mentioned), Rain Man, Miles Ahead, Airborne, Grimm Reality, Little Man Tate, City of Hope, An Innocent Man, Tango & Cash, A Mom for Christmas, Lost in Yonkers, Summer Catch, Artworks, Dreamer, Elizabethtown, Jimmy and Judy, Eight Men Out, Milk Money,Traffic, The Pride of Jesse Hallam, The Great Buck Howard, In Too Deep, Seven Below, Carol, Public Eye, The Last Late Night, and The Mighty. In addition, Wild Hogs is set, though not filmed, in Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati skyline was prominently featured in the opening and closing sequences of the CBS daytime drama The Edge of Night from its start in 1956 until 1980, when it was replaced by the Los Angeles skyline; the cityscape was the stand-in for the show's setting, Monticello. Procter & Gamble, the show's producer, is based in Cincinnati. The sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati and its sequel/spin-off The New WKRP in Cincinnati featured the city's skyline and other exterior shots in its credits, although was not filmed in Cincinnati. The city's skyline has also appeared in an April Fool's episode of The Drew Carey Show, which was set in Carey's hometown of Cleveland. 3 Doors Down's music video "It's Not My Time" was filmed in Cincinnati, and features the skyline and Fountain Square. Also, Harry's Law, the NBC legal dramedy created by David E. Kelley and starring Kathy Bates, was set in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati has given rise or been home to popular musicians and singers Lonnie Mack, Doris Day, Dinah Shore, Fats Waller, Rosemary Clooney, Bootsy Collins, The Isley Brothers, Merle Travis, Hank Ballard, Otis Williams, Mood, Midnight Star, Calloway, The Afghan Whigs, Over the Rhine, Blessid Union of Souls, Freddie Meyer, 98 Degrees, The Greenhornes, The Deele, Enduser, Heartless Bastards, The Dopamines, Adrian Belew, The National, Foxy Shazam, Why?, Wussy, H-Bomb Ferguson and Walk the Moon, and alternative hip hop producer Hi-Tek calls the Greater Cincinnati region home. Andy Biersack, the lead vocalist for the rock band Black Veil Brides, was born in Cincinnati.
WCET channel 48, now known as CET, is the nation's oldest licensed public television station (License #1, issued in 1951).
The Cincinnati May Festival Chorus is an amateur choir that has been in existence since 1880. Music Director James Conlon and Chorus Director Robert Porco lead the Chorus through an extensive repertoire of classical music. The May Festival Chorus is the mainstay of the oldest continuous choral festival in the Western Hemisphere. Cincinnati's Music Hall was built specifically to house the May Festival. The city is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Boychoir and Cincinnati Ballet. The Greater Cincinnati area is also home to several regional orchestras and youth orchestras, including the Starling Chamber Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.
The Hollows series of books by Kim Harrison is an urban fantasy that takes place in Cincinnati. American Girl's Kit Kittredge sub-series also took place in the city, although the film based on it was shot in Toronto.
Cincinnati also has its own chapter (or "Tent") of The Sons of the Desert (The Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society), which meets several times per year.
A previous mayor of Cincinnati, Mark Mallory, was featured on CBS's Undercover Boss.
The Cincinnati Police Department was featured on TLC's Police Women of Cincinnati and on A&E's reality show The First 48.
Cincinnati is the subject of a Connie Smith song written by Bill Anderson, called Cincinnati, Ohio (song).
Cincinnati was a major early music recording center, and was home to King Records, which helped launch the career of James Brown, who often recorded there, as well as Jewel Records, which helped launch Lonnie Mack's career, and Fraternity Records.
Cincinnati, being a river town, has had a vibrant jazz scene from the 1920s to today. Louis Armstrong's first recordings were done in the Cincinnati area, at Gennett Records, as were Jelly Roll Morton's, Hoagy Carmichael's, and Bix Beiderbecke, who took up residency in Cincinnati for a time. Fats Waller was on staff at WLW in the 1930s.
Transportation in Cincinnati is dominated by private automobiles, although the city grew rapidly during the streetcar era of the 1800s and early 1900s. Public transit ridership has been in decline for at least several decades and bicycles and walking account for a relatively small portion of all trips. Like many other midwestern cities, however, bicycle use is growing fairly rapidly in the 2000s and 2010s.
In 1916 the mayor of Cincinnati and its citizens voted to spend $6 million to build the Cincinnati Subway. The subway was planned to be a 16-mile loop from Downtown to Norwood to Oakley and back to the east side of Downtown. World War I delayed the construction in 1920 and inflation raised the costs causing the Oakley portion never to be built. Mayor Seasongood who took office later on argued it would cost too much money to finish the system. A century later, the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar line, which opened for service on September 9, 2016, crosses directly above the unfinished subway on Central Parkway downtown.
The Riverfront Transit Center, built under 2nd Street, is about the size of eight football fields. It is only used for sports games and school field trips. When it was built, it was designed for public transit buses, charter buses, school buses, inter-city coach buses, light rail, and possibly commuter rail. On days it is not in use for sports games, it is closed off and rented to a private parking vendor.
The Cincinnati Streetcar project experienced railcar-manufacturing delays and initial funding issues, but was completed on-time and within its budget in mid-2016.
Cincinnati is served by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) and the Clermont Transportation Connection. SORTA and TANK primarily operate 40-foot diesel buses, though some lines are served by longer articulated or hybrid-engine buses. In 2012–16, Cincinnati constructed a streetcar line in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. This modern version of the streetcar opened in September 2016.
The city is served by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (IATA: CVG) which is actually located in Hebron, Kentucky. The airport is a hub for major passenger airline Delta Air Lines, as well as a focus city for low cost carriers Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines. In addition, the airport is the largest global hub for both Amazon Prime Air and DHL Aviation. Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport (IATA: LUK), has daily service on commercial charter flights, and is located in Ohio. The airport serves as hub for Ultimate Air Shuttle and Flamingo Air.
Cincinnati is served by Amtrak's Cardinal, an intercity passenger train which makes three weekly trips in each direction between Chicago and New York City through Cincinnati Union Terminal.
Megabus and Greyhound as well as several other, smaller motor coach companies operate out of Cincinnati, making trips within the midwest or beyond.
The city has an outer-belt, Interstate 275 (which is the longest circle highway in the country at 85 miles) and a spur, Interstate 471, to Kentucky. It is also served by Interstate 71, Interstate 74, Interstate 75 and numerous U.S. highways: US 22, US 25, US 27, US 42, US 50, US 52, and US 127.
A system of public staircases known as the Steps of Cincinnati guides pedestrians up and down the many hills in the city. In addition to practical use linking hillside neighborhoods, the 400 stairways provide visitors scenic views of the Cincinnati area.
Cincinnati has nine sister cities.