My husband worries about me, when I take my long, monster walks. He thinks I’ll get lost – or run over. My son blames me for his jaywalking, which will not hold up in court. Over the past eighteen months, my walks have simply become a way of tuning into the city. I don’t worry about getting lost nor getting run over, because my feet move in rhythm with the traffic lights, the hum of buses and the occasional expletives more commonly heard on city sidewalks.
This holiday, I hope you can come down to my city, for I have earned the right to call it thus, when my car has been trespassed several times, when I have brushed arms with city councilpersons, when I have paused in my day to talk to Earl.
As you plan your visit, consider that our city is oriented towards the river, that’s how I know north and south, mainly. I grew up in Cleveland, and true north was the lake. I lived on the Oregon Coast, and true north was west. Here, true north is south, meaning, if I know where the river is, I’ll never get lost.
This morning, I realized how often I walked a north-south pattern so I mixed it, figuring I could use a few new neurons these days.
My finds were many, and I hope you take the time, when you c’mon a my city, to orient yourself in many new directions.
Take a stroll through Piatt Park and enjoy the view of the Covenant First Presbyterian Church along Elm Street. Its my favorite courtyard nook. But also, go inside if you can. Sometimes, the custodian is out and he might let you have a look. They still have original wood-carved furniture, for which Henry Fry made famous by instructing women of Cincinnati on this creative endeavor. Can we bring this back?
Walk past the Landor Associates in the former Shilitto’s. Their display gets more creative each year. I walked past every morning this week, just to get a glimpse, as they worked and finally, they made the big reveal.
Stop in to the Hilton Netherland (Its still the Omni to me) and track down the gingerbread display.
Fountain Square beckons, but don’t be in such a hurry. Make your way down to Fourth Street and check out Bromwell’s display. I did not post a picture for fear I could not capture its magic.
Work your way back and forth along Fourth Street. Head towards Central Avenue to get a glimpse of the street, before seeing the movie Carol. You will be amazed at the transformation once you are in the theatre.
Walk the opposite direction and you will find the FC Cincinnati store. You will be shopping here plenty come Spring, because the other team that plays in Springtime will be silent.
Stop by the CG&E building, where the trains used to be. And admire the plaster relief of the city that still hangs on the wall.
Head to Lytle Park for the lights and the Western-Southern corridor. Though their corporate footprint is becoming too large for this tiny segment of the city, the display, perhaps brought to you by the neighborhood association or the city, warms the space.
If you are near the Aronoff, check out the parking garage that more resembles your grandmother’s holiday rummage sale. The display will warm your heart. Also, there’s a new local cafe across the street, if you need to warm up with something else.
And, if you get all the way to north of Central on Main, the Gray and Pape architect studio and Envoi Design
have some of my favorites displays.
I love walking in the dark, early mornings, as if I am privy to a life that can only be seen with the lights off. I don’t worry about getting run over. I don’t worry about getting lost.
I read somewhere that Terry Anderson, the correspondent who kidnapped back in the 80’s, mapped his hometown of Lorain in his head to stay sane, and, in case he made it home, he would never feel lost again.
I am always mapping this city as I walk, anxious that I will never grow enough neurons to take in what I love.