Resurrecting Lost Italians – Gettin’ My 52 On in the CBD

FullSizeRender (24)* This is the twenty-sixth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

“You would make a lousy politician,” my husband said to me once. “Because you don’t like to share the streets and parks with others.”

“That’s not true,” I moaned. “I just like the quiet, so I can experience the city through my own eyes and not while bumping into others.”

So, I rose before dawn on the longest day of the year to walk the Central Business District, the city, downtown. However one referred to it.

I have walked every street and alley in the downtown region, as well as the backways and shortcuts, some out of necessity, others out of curiosity. It would be a challenge to find a way to connect to the city for the purpose of these walks and not diverge into other areas of history, alleys, murals, etc.

But, I would diverge, regardless.

My first effort began with heading towards the east end of downtown and the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park. I love the park’s version of the “Bean” which offered a flattering look back at oneself and not the overly distorted one. I also discovered this quote by Mr. Berry and its relevance to what I am personally, if not professionally and certainly not financially, accomplishing through these treks.

Then next challenge arose when I turned back towards Sawyer Point and downtown. Which way would I choose? I wanted the park to be its own neighborhood, for it often felt such in early morning, and because I had too much ground to cover.

The cherry red awning of Montgomery Inn shone brightly that morning and when the restaurant first opened in 1989, my sister, Laura and I took every parent, sibling and guest there over many years’ time.

Moseying along Sawyer Point, the volleyball courts were once the site of an AVP tournament I used to attend, and there were bricks along the point, when the park was renovated, which my sister and I donated to its fundraiser, but I had yet to determine our brick’s exact location. 

I bypassed the rest of Yeatman’s Cove (named for a well-patronized tavern on the river back in 1793) and Serpentine Wall because both spaces were iconic and ubiquitous. I turned up through parking lots to pass by the Anne Louise Inn, now owned by Western-Southern after a nasty ownership battle. Renovations were coming along on the proposed economic development, but I was there for another reason.

Behind the Inn, at Third and Lytle, in the late 1800’s, two Italian nuns had formed the Santa Maria Institute to support the assimilation of Italian immigrants in Cincinnati. At the end of the 19th century, there had been 8,000 Italians living in Cincinnati. (Italians of Greater Cincinnati). Now, that number of descendants was closer to 44,000.

And what I was learning and witnessing was that an entire subculture or ethnic group had been easily erased from Cincinnati’s history. For instance, one can read this brochure, which was handed out during the last Woman’s City Club meeting when Maria Hinojosa spoke, and see there were no reference to Italians, who contributed greatly to this city.

Further up Pike Street is the American Book Company Building, which is where William McGuffey (of the famed McGuffey readers) got his start through Winthrop Smith who tapped him to create “eclectic” readers, textbooks that espoused the values of honesty and hard work. The books were used often in Cincinnati Public Schools. According to legend, no McGuffey ever made money off those readers, but a few publishers did. I can totally relate. (Literary Cincinnati is worth a read for those wanting to know more).

I have referenced this fact before, but the annex of Proctor and Gamble was built over a demolished Church of the Sacred Heart at 527 Broadway. Sacred Heart was THE church for the Italians and had been built in 1890. It was another nod to corporate interests in a move that is now all too familiar in cases such as the Dennison Hotel.

I traveled along Fourth Street to where Mark was a patron of the Salzano Brothers barbershop, carrying on the tradition of Italians in Cincinnati. Mark always comes home speaking in a Italian. Like that’s gonna make him one.

The apartments at Fourth and Plum used to advertise, If you lived here, you’d be home. My first husband, Devin, lived at Fourth & Plum in his twenties, and until now, I never thought of him as an urban dweller. Perhaps at the time, we didn’t have the many distinctive labels that separate us all now.

In the spot where the Duke Convention Center sprawls, Peter and Stella Cetrulo opened another barbershop. It was known Peter sang arias as he cut his customer’s hair. I wondered if the Salzano Brothers had brought back that tradition.

Barbershops had been all the rage in the Italian set. Villari’s was opened on Central Avenue, and Angelo Bruno opened a barbershop at 5 Garfield Place and owned it for 36 years before selling to Fausto Ferrari in 1967. I’m not sure if Fausto is still there, since that’s not my thing, but the latest Yelp reviews had not been kind.

Passing along City Hall, I was trying to locate an area on W. 8th Street. I had read that along the 600 block of W. 8th, many Italians had once made their home. There was also a nursery, a welfare center and St. Vincent Apts. That stretch too was gone, replaced by parking. Though I had found plenty of connections to Italians in Camp Washington and also South Fairmont, where I had yet to walk, from my vantage point, Italians disappeared from the collective memory of many historians of Cincinnati, other than reference guides such as this: http://globalcincinnati.org/resources-2/cultural-guides/italian/

Produce had also been a mainstay for Italians hoping to start a new life. The Sansone family hosted a market at Vine and Walnut on Court, after the Canal Market was torn down. The city once had Joe Lasita & Sons produce wholesalers, and today, still is home to the Castellini Company. Further north, a passerby might also notice Catanzaro trucks, started in Springfield, Ohio.

Finally, Italians were and are excellent tailors, and the DiPilla Family was well-known in town, during the early 1900’s for their work on W. 8th Street.

Several dining establishments in the business district, Scotti’s and Campanello’s, still carried the Italian traditions, and some, like Via Vite, upgraded the experience. But my husband knows I don’t patronize establishments that can’t compete with my mother’s cooking. That’s just a hallmark of good Italian, to disdain anything that Mamma didn’t make.

The book, Italians of Greater Cincinnati, kept me occupied for days. While Cincinnati was once comprised of 60% of Germans, I informed Mark, the rest had to come from somewhere and they did. There had been multitudes of participants at Columbus Day parades over the years. I know, Columbus is no longer P.C., but tradition is worth holding on to. And am thankful to be in a city where Italians have held on (we always have a hard time letting go), even if the city, in many ways, has let go of them.

I conceded to time, on my tour of Italians in the downtown region, but resolved to keep pushing to learn more, join one of the Italian societies, find the deli that made the sausage at the Cincinnati Italian Festival and push for a sister city in the future. Afterall, Italians were all about la famiglia.

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Making My Own Major – Gettin’ My 52 On in The Heights

* This is the twenty-fifth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

Though nearly halfway through my 52, already I was formulating a new plan in my life. Or at least an imagined plan.

With summer heat hot on my heels , early morning walks were becoming imperative. I met up with Mark, who had been on call the night before and now sported long, hiking pants in the encroaching sizzle.

We trekked up Vine Street where the street meets Taft and began our walk of The Heights. The Heights was its own neighborhood and mostly encompassed the University of Cincinnati. While Mark attended UC for post-graduate work, he was the only one in the family who obtained a degree from UC. Still, we marveled at the impressive campus, while also knowing there was an arms race in dorm building that happened here too, leading to more expenses for students.

We passed the parking garage and The Bubble, where many of the sports teams practice in winter. According to UC, “from November through February, the 100-yard field becomes an indoor practice facility, covered by an air-supported bubble that maintains an interior temperature of 50-60 degrees. This gives the athletic department an additional 72,200 square-feet of space for athletics events and competitions.”

On a Sunday morning, walking Nippert Stadium, which everyone knew by now as the alt-arena for FC Cincinnati, there were countless runners punishing themselves by running the bleachers. Also noted, every sporting arena was named after a well-known somebody, Lindner, Schott, Sheakley, Gettler.

There was no music that day emanating from the Corbett Center for Performing Arts or the Dieterle Vocal Arts Center. (Yes, you would recognize that name as Louise Dieterle Nippert). I encourage readers to learn more about the Nipperts (who came from Gamble money) here.

We passed between the App Lab of the Student Center, the Student Life Center and Baldwin Hall, the site of the Engineering building built in 1908. Baldwin was a guy with no ties to Cincinnati other than “I made money in Cincinnati” and gave close to $700K to make that building happen.

We moseyed on through the Zimmer Roof Garden, who knew we were on the roof of the Zimmer Auditorium? As we proceeded down the steps of Library Square, we looked down over more construction and gave a backward glance at the Engineering research center.

From there, we crossed into Burnet Woods, thankful for the cover of shade. Burnet is a City of Cincinnati park and encompasses 90 acres, with a pond, nature center and bandstand. The bandstand was built in the same style of Washington Park and Eden Park. Burnett also boasts of a little-known outside of Cincinnati from a tourist standpoint Wolff Planetarium, the oldest west of the Allegheny Mountains.

When the parks levy was on the ballot, there had been a proposal to build a concession stand in Burnett Words, but this was place that did not need disturbing, especially for the birds’ sake. The area was named an “important birding site” by the Audubon Society.

We circled back out along Ludlow, to the fountain that greets all park visitors from the northern edge. The neighborhood also included the stretch along Clifton Avenue containing the fraternity and sorority houses and another enclave of homes that I had included in a previous walk, before learning that I had “overstepped” my bounds.

When not hot, when school’s in campus, the area was certainly a more lively walk and Mark and I had enjoyed many of them, just not on the day when the temperature was encroaching upon 90 by nine.

According to Google maps, The Heights included Fries Café (another old haunt) and Cactus Pear, which was the best place for margaritas before Bakersfield of course. But according to various neighborhood signs, some of these areas competed for naming rights.

The University traces it beginnings to a charter in 1918 and now boasts of over 44,000 students. The Bearcat nickname originated from a football player named Baehr and immortalized by the student newspaper cartoonist.

UC has had many PR nightmares, from the University of Cincinnati police officer shooting of Sam DuBose to sexual harassment lawsuits. Recently, the baseball coach left abruptly and the school recruited its crosstown rival coach. And UC football is struggling to be invited to a larger conference.

But many of my friends have attended or worked there. Many children of friends have made their way through the hallowed halls. And the school itself boasts of the world-renowned engineering and co-op programs, business programs and the DAAP school, where once I upon a time, I fashioned myself an architect or planner. These walks have heightened my interest in urban architecture or planning, or just urban connecting through art. Many artists and community engagement individuals now call themselves social artists. I wonder if any of those designations would be considered a major for a degree?

After age 50, shouldn’t we all get to make our own majors?

 

An Origin Story – Gettin’ My 52 On in Oakley

* This is the twenty-fourth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

One life has many origin stories. This is one of my mine.

Two houses awaited my approach at the end of my walk in Oakley. Mark was on call that Saturday morning, and I parked in the lot of the Hitching Post, the furthest point from those homes and trekked south along Edwards Road, past the Malton Gallery.

Many of the roads into Oakley’s residential neighborhood had been blocked off over time, to eliminate traffic pass-throughs from the Rookwood retail developments into the once quiet streets of Oakley.

In my “youth”, I spend plenty of time running and walking these stretches and found the homes as charming as I recalled. Though I didn’t remember the multitudes of allegiances proudly demonstrated through the various flags hung outside each home along certain streets.

I followed along and turned onto Minot. Once I got my bearings, I realized this area was a potential space for the FC Cincinnati MLS stadium. Ironically, I would be in conversations later in the week with a young couple who lived in proximity, and absolutely did not want a stadium there because they felt it would upend the neighborhood. Anyone who has entered and exited off the Rookwood exchange knows the traffic backup nightmare that already exists. I tended to agree with them.

I passed through the more industrial section to Oakley. And I would learn more of the history later in my research. But, as I walked the curve, I delighted in coming up the Brazee Street Studios where my friend Sara Pearce has a studio. Sara’s Paper with a Past artwork hangs in my home, but she became a closer friend when she and her friends invited me to march with them in Washington.

The stretch of retail shops in front of Brazee along Madison Road is worth checking out and the merchants have their own retail walk. The establishment that was now Maribelle’s, once belonged to a Jean-Robert, French-Vietnemese restaurant. The location was also home to southern-inspired restaurant whose name escaped me.

Most people knew Oakley for one of two establishments. Crossroads and Madtree. Mark and I had recently visited Madtree and understood what the buzz was all about. Also, the parking, was a little harebrained. Being from “the city”, we also wondered how much one could really make this a walkable destination and from where. But it’s a great spot and addition of pizza was a brilliant move.

I rounded the corner down Ridge to Brotherton, past a new favorite, The Wheel, then retraced my steps back up Brotherton to Club View Drive. Another group of charming streets were within sight, many renovated hobbit-like homes that backed up to the Hyde Park Golf Course, which part of Oakley encircles, but did not belong.

I trekked up, down and around some of the hills  of Marburg. I had an agenda. Near Paxton, I landed at the playground.

I stood on the tennis courts, where I once took a few hits, literally, playing with my first husband, Devin, and friends. I stared out at a certain home across the street. My older sister’s friend, Nancy, lived there for a quite a while. She rented the space, and finally, after much contemplation, she bought a quaint home in Madeira. Nancy had a spirit that could lift the dead. She brightened up any room she entered, and was a dedicated social worker at Children’s. I also don’t think Nancy ever slept, worried as she was about all children, and committed as she was, to living a full life.

Shortly after Nancy’s move to Madiera, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Yes, she did smoke, but she was waaayy too young to have developed a habit long enough for such an incidious cancer to take her so soon.

Nancy died the year Devin was scheduled to receive his bone marrow transplant. I had last seen her seated on the porch, with breathing machine nearby, and we waved goodbye before leaving for Seattle. Nancy and I had bonded as individuals do, over a disease that had and would alter the course of our lives.

Nancy’s death hit Devin and me hard, because, like so many others, we had held out hope for our own cause. Her death shocked and shook us in a way numbers and percentages could not.

FullSizeRender (20)Ironically, after Devin’s diagnosis and prior to Nancy’s, she had visited Churchill Downs as an avid, annual participant in Derby festivities. In a show of support and awareness of bone marrow donations, she had sported this sign. The photograph has proudly been displayed in my office ever since (1999).

In an odd twist of Fate, Nancy and Devin and I had also shared a street. Ballard. I turned north and walked up the hill, anxious to see what condition a certain home was still in. Devin owned 4007 Ballard at the time he and I met. I spent countless nights there, before telling my parents I was moving in with him. To save money, of course. We hosted several wild parties, including an oyster bake, when we really didn’t know what that meant, and a few hot tub parties to boot. We were working together at the time, and often drove to our jobs and drove home together, in a weird arrangement that one of us should have stopped long before we started. But, we were young.

We eventually moved from that home to Loveland, but that home stood the test of our early relationship and had stood the test of time. Any neighbors out that day I walked would have witnessed, not a 50-something, but a 20-something, mourning more of who I had been, who I had so wanted be, but was held up temporarily by life forces beyond my control.

I continued at a more brisk pace because I had guests at home. I walked past St. Cecilia, where our former pastor from St. Margaret of York, Fr. Jamie, presided. Also, my father in law, Mark Sr., worked at St. Cecilia’s a few days a week. St. Cecilia’s was built in 1908 in the Gothic style and was a tough booking for weddings, for which my niece will be married there in two years.

The entrance to the public library branch boasts of an arbor and impeccable landscaping, but stood in contrast to some libraries I had seen in other neighborhoods. Another example of the lack of parity, and what might appear to be a more friendly-looking safe space than others I had encountered.

The rest of my time trekking back along Madison Road was spent hopping back and forth across the Madison to shoot fun photos. Oakley has charming square near the Oakley Theatre, site of many great concerts and events, and then back towards my car.

Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors refers to Oakley as the “nerve center of Cincinnati’s contribution to the war production.” The area was purchased in 1846 and named Oakley supposedly because of the plethora of oak trees, though most residents at the time called this area “Shusterville” after one of its founders.

In 1907, long after the racing track closed, Oakley was known for the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company (most recently known as Milacron or once known as the Cincinnati Tap and Screw) on a 125-acre site called the Oakley Factory Colony.

Oakley has an active community council, hosting a Final Fridays through the summer. And Habits had finally undergone a renovation, from my days at Star Bank, when our boss “took us to lunch” there, meaning we still paid.

When we lived in Oakley, we always wanted to be somewhere else. Someone else. The curse of being young. We also lived in Cincinnati at a time when the riverfront was flourishing, as it is now. And our jobs took us to many far flung locations, including the west side. But always, at the end of night, we had each other.

I had never driven my son, Davis, past the home where his father lived. I’m certain he follows his mother’s blogs devoutly, so now he’ll know. But Oakley, always called Hyde Park near in real estate ads during my years, was our own incubator for a young relationship and lasting friendships.

I wasn’t crazy of the new paint color. If I drove Davis to that home now, surely the first thing he would notice is the paint combination, sporting University of Oregon colors where he now attends.

That home had been backdrop for the first of many origin stories. Twenty-five years later, I would stand in front of the home, envisioning Devin driving his black Nissan Maxima up the driveway, me, trailing behind in my Toyota Cellica, entering a life we couldn’t imagine.

What’s The Point – Gettin’ My 52 On in Pendleton

* This is the twenty-third in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

In my reference book, A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, (1943), places now called Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton were once simply referred to as areas in the city.

Before spending much time in the city of Cincinnati proper, Pendleton to me had always been considered a part of Over-the-Rhine. If I was near the casino, long before the casino, I was either in downtown, as delineated along Central Parkway, or I was in Over-the-Rhine. Even as we considered move to Over-The-Rhine, it was my husband who once informed me that Pendleton was a neighborhood and the city actually did too.

FullSizeRender (1)The boundaries of Pendleton can be drawn by connecting three points. Central/Reading to Sycamore, Sycamore to Liberty and Liberty back to Central/Reading.

From my home on 14th on Race, I walked each north and south street of Pendleton, a few alleys in between, and walked back home in 45 minutes. Some of the speed factor may have come from the fact that I know the neighborhood well, but some of is attributed to the fact Pendleton is one of Cincinnati’ smallest neighborhood, yet still remains part of Over-the-Rhine Historic district.

FullSizeRender (2)Pendleton was named after George Pendleton, a U.S. Senator, who had a home located in Prospect Hill, now a part of Mt. Auburn, where he drafted the first Federal civil service law. His wife was the daughter of Francis Scott Key of the Star-Spangled Banner fame. However, his family’s first home was in the former rectory location at St. Paul Church, at the SE corner of E. 12th and Spring, a church built in 1850. The church has withstood fire and all the stained glass windows were made in Germany. Its worth a look inside. It should be noted the rectory was torn down brick by brick and reassembled at the rear. The church was eventually deconsecrated and purchased by the Verdin Bell Company. (More photos here)

FullSizeRender (15)The Verdin Bell Company is of course, now a cornerstone of the neighborhood, as is The Bell Event Centre. The furniture at Findlay Market was produced by Verdin Bell. And Mark and I are proud owners of a similar set that I secured via one of the owners, met years ago at Findlay Fundraiser when I asked, how do I get that set in purple? Today, I own that set in purple.

Along the 1100 block of Broadway is a stretch of buildings once used for training the troops for the Civil War. There was also a practice rifle range, many brawls and a few Confederate executions which took place nearby.

FullSizeRender (8)Pendleton is home to a thriving artist enclave, Pendleton Art Center and Annex, which hosts its monthly Final Fridays. Some of my favorite artists have spaces there. CityScapes Tiles, Susie Brand Jewelry and Donna Talerico, to name a few. New, small restaurants and bars have or are sprouting up in was what mostly abandoned buildings. Urbana Café, Boomtown Biscuit (not yet open), Lucius Q with Aaron Sharpe, Nation Burger Bar. And course, Nicola’s and my favorite Italian courtyard. A few others will come online, as well as the new pool associated with Ziegler Park, scheduled to open June 10th.

There are new infill developments and land is becoming more valuable. This neighborhood too will see its share of what everyone has an opinion about – gentrification.  If one is in downtown or OTR, it’s worth a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.

We’ve met long time Pendleton residents and also have met a number of residents who have moved into some lovingly restored homes, as well as few in the process of being restored. Over the Rhine Community Housing owns several properties here, under Cutter, Morgan and Carrie properties. Also, the Model Group, known for their development of affordable housing and retail solutions, has large presence here.

Woodward was one of the first public schools in the country. The school opened in 1826 and offered free education for poor children. The remains of Abigail Cutter and William Woodward, founders, are supposedly buried beneath the school grounds and Abigail’s ghost haunts the building.  In 1910, a third iteration of the building opened and was dedicated by William Howard Taft. The building once housed the School for Performing Arts and now is home to apartment dwellers.

The site is also has ties to the Underground Railroad. Levi Coffin was known as the President of the Underground Railroad, sheltering fugitive slaves each year on their way to Canada. He and his wife lived on this site from 1856 to 1863. This site was also the home to hospitals and principals long before it became a school and now apartments. The building was known for its swimming pools (two) and its Rookwood Pottery drinking fountains.

Across the street in OTR though directly impacting Pendleton, Ziegler Park was once a great community asset and then became a known for prevalence of drugs. And many summer days, I walked past the pool and there were zero, zero patrons there.

When the announcement came that the park and pool would be renovated, there was a lot of angst in the community. How would 3cdc be responsive to all the neighborhood needs? The swim pool membership has been structured like Cincinnati Recreation Center memberships. There is an effort to maintain Ziegler as low programming site, unlike Washington Park which is constantly programmed. The goal is also that it be family oriented and community oriented. In essence, a neighborhood pool. As a member in some community conversations, I look forward to hanging at a pool with my neighbors, listening to the kids squeal and of course, a few cannonballs off the diving board. And I cannot stress the importance of every child learning to swim. Read my previous post here.

I love Pendleton, but its neighborhood designation falls into the category of “why do we need to be duplicating neighborhood efforts, for a small number of blocks?” I attempted to track down the history of how, when or why it become a recognized city neighborhood. One email was acknowledged but not returned. Several requests were made to folks who lived in the area. Through the efforts of my friend, Jon, I was directed to Ohio’s Secretary of State website which lists a St. Paul Community Center, established in 1968, then renamed Pendleton Neighborhood Council in 1971. Throughout the course of time, the group allowed for the relapse and reinstatement of incorporation several times. There is speculation that the area wanted to break away from Over-the-Rhine in its previous rougher state. However, the OTR comprehensive plan, as well as the OTR Community Council still include the area as part of Over-the-Rhine.

Which leads me to ask, not just about Pendleton, but other smaller neighborhoods I have walked, to what end is the city duplicating efforts? There are developments in Loveland and Mason three times the size of Pendleton and Millvale. Are these neighborhoods better or less served in that state as separate? And I wonder if some of the segmentation of our city has led to less cooperation between neighborhoods and the city over the years?

One of my first “morning finds” after we moved, was my discovery of an alley that so closely resembled Europe that I went back to that alley time and again to just absorb in its charm. I look forward to many more morning finds to be discovered in this enclave, and hope to someday discover the real reason Pendleton decided to stand on its own.

Unexpected Catcalling – Gettin’ My City On in Millvale

*This is the twenty-second in my series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods during the year of the city’s elections to find what makes each community relevant to me. What have I learned? How far do I have to go?

I had an afternoon free of manuscript edits and the sun shone brightly onto my map of Millvale.

I knew exactly how to drive to Millvale since I had already visited South Cumminsville and accidentally walked a portion of Millvale, before realizing how often smaller neighborhoods overlapped without any notice.

I had my route plotted out, as well as the estimated time I would commit. The only event I hadn’t planned on was the catcalling I experienced later in my outing.

I parked near the south end of the neighborhood and walked north on Beekman Street, with the Millcreek running along the backside of many abandoned industrial properties. The Lang Ironworks, in business for over 120 years, had a fascinating collection of iron implements out front, of which any iron / steel sculptor would salivate over the remains.

It was a short jaunt really to the northern end of the neighborhood, around the Millvale Recreation Center and pool. The rec center listed ten neighborhoods served, however, a few redundancies were listed. The website referred to itself as a “hub” for these communities but I found that rather inefficient and disingenuous to lump that sprawling web of communities into one center.

My walk took place before the fill.

The Ethel M. Tayler Academy was located in Millvale. Read this story because the reporters did justice to every last detail I could have inserted here and more.

There was another side of Millvale and other neighborhoods that ran along the “tortuous” Mill Creek (as referred to in A Guide to the Queen City and its Neighborhoods) and that was one of industry. So I trekked down a side road and discovered the Cincinnati Firefighters training facility. As I continued further along Mill Road, I came upon Cincinnati’s Neighborhood Operations plant.

In an old abandoned industrial site, plenty of garbage cans had been laid to rest. City trucks moved in and out of the Lego-like town of moving parts.

I approached the bridge over the creek and stopped to shoot a photograph. When I turned back on my path out of the industrial area, I heard the loud, obnoxious whistle.

A catcall.

Originating from inside a city truck. On city property. By a city employee. A part of me wanted to run up and scream at the idiot in his face. The other part of me just yelled, “What a boor!” For the record, I had worn my old jeans and pulled my hair back, to any critic who might have accused me of wearing Lycra that day.

Infuriated, I marched on, coming to an endpoint for the Mill Creek Bike trail.

“Queen City-South Mill Creek Greenway Trail

When all phases are complete, the Mill Creek Trail will extend from the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Carthage to the Ohio River. From the mouth of the Mill Creek, the trail will extend east to the Cincinnati Riverfront Park, with connections to the Ohio River Trail traveling east and west and to other regional and statewide trails. Currently the trail extends from Winton Road to the Mill Creek Bridge. The hike-and-bike trail is a major component of the City of Cincinnati’s Mill Creek Greenway Program, managed by the nonprofit Groundwork Cincinnati. The program seeks to create opportunities for bike commuting to work, walking and biking for short trips, and outdoor recreation and exercise. Other objectives are to improve the health of the degraded river and its natural resources, to economically revitalize neighborhoods and communities within the river corridor, to create jobs, and to retain and attract residents and businesses. For information about the Mill Creek Trail and other Mill Creek programs, please visit Groundwork Cincinnati.”

FullSizeRender_1In every neighborhood I had visited, I had been treated with respect if not even kindness. But there, where city employees didn’t have to care whose life they were encroaching upon, I had felt less safe.

I circled back south along Beekman Street, past Simmering Tile Co. Check out the website for a fun viewing of tiles you have seen around town.

I veered slightly off Beekman and decided to walk up Moosewood for a short while, a street whose entire length is committed to affordable housing through CMHA. The south end of the Moosewood, where one once accessed Westwood-Northern Boulevard, had been blocked off long ago, so I couldn’t complete my circle.

I felt a certain anguish walking here, seeing a street blocked off, a challenged community sandwiched between other neighborhoods that struggled. These were areas in need of attention and children in need of options.  There were many sprawling, industrial sites, accessible to the interstate, where development could occur.

But I took solace in that fact that even guys hanging out at the Cumminsville Market offered, “Good day,” without the catcalls.