* This is the twenty-ninth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. Follow me on Instagram for a hint of where I’ll venture next.
The day after Fourth of July started as overcast. I drove across W. Eighth Street and parked my car at Mt. Echo Park. This was not my first visit to the 73-acre park, but certainly only my third or fourth. Early on, after our move to the city, I had driven our son, Davis, to the lookout, to show off my findings. Later, when I needed to think, I drove to this park.
I had been awestruck by the perspective from there. For so long, everyone raved about the view from Mt. Adams or Eden Park, or across the river, or on top of some new hotel bar. But Mt. Echo was in the category of “best kept secret”, or at perhaps one west-siders liked to keep themselves.
Lucky for me, I had experienced the inherent beauty of the park several times and was not disturbed by sidewalks strewn with red paper as cast offs from fireworks. In fact, the tattered papers littered the entire city, as I would witness later that day. But if that was how Americans exhibited gratitude for freedom, then maybe American’s needed a new definition of freedom.
A woman cleaning up the debris exited the woman’s bathroom.
“Sorry you have to do this.”
She looked at me and said nothing at first.
“But thank you.” An old manager’s adage hit me. “Never ask someone to do a job you wouldn’t want to do yourself.”
She nodded. “At least I got a job.”
I cringed. I hoped Cincinnati Parks ensured that effort was a minor, minor part of her job.
The park overlooked a less-inhabited part of the Ohio River, where there were less barges and gravel pits, and more green space across the water’s span.
I had once joined a writing circle with my Starfire mentee at Imago Nature Center. The street and a few surrounding ones now comprised of an entire district and had become Enright Eco-village. Many homes, complete with rooster crowing, lined several No Outlet streets prior to my approach to St. Joseph’s cemetery.
Imago boasted of 36 acres of protected urban forest, 16 as an open preserve. They prided themselves on their ability to help the land, as well as a few souls, heal.
I turned up Rosemont to St. Lawrence and through to Glenway, waving at the occasional porch sitter, until I hit Warsaw. Again, I was fascinated by the view from the sidewalk. I had driven down Warsaw many times, but usually with sights set on a traffic light or a next turn, and not the actual streetscape itself.
There, I found a Kroger, a yet-to-be finished Artworks project, and the Elder and Seton High Schools. The Moeller alum at home will want to know that I walked to the Pit, well, as far as they would let an outsider venture.
I understood the mystique a little better. Also, they would never let slip that Elder began as a co-ed school and operated that way for its first five years. Seton High School, founded in 1857, was nearby, but I couldn’t get too close, as much of the area was under construction. That high school was begun in 1927 following the separation of genders from Elder.
“Do you know, I’ve worked here 11 years, and never had one,” the clerk confessed.
“Wow, you’re either lucky or smart.”
“Just don’t have a sweet tooth.” She grinned.
“Well, if I hadn’t just walked five miles, I would definitely order one. My step-grandmother made these all the time. It was one of the reasons I looked forward to her visits.”
I was tired. The Danish and humidity had weighed me down more than I had expected. I would have to carve my walk into two parts. I trudged back to my car via a lower road leading back near the park. Yes, East Price Hill had a lower East Price Hill.
That afternoon, I told Shannon and Mark I needed to finish my walk around East Price Hill. The area wouldn’t take long to cover, so I suggested dinner or drinks afterwards.
That day might be the first time I ended a walk early because of a bakery and completed a walk with a beer or wine. We parked near the Incline Public House and marched along Maryland Ave., the site of a former “toll road” because many carriages stopped there. There was also once a tree, Dead Man’s Tree, where funeral corteges rested in the shade.
Around the corner and across the street was an old firehouse turned music center for the renowned MyCincinnati,
MYCincinnati’s mission is to use ensemble-based instrumental music as a tool for youth development and community engagement by providing urban children with access to free, intense, high-quality music education.
We circled Warsaw to Elberon and turned back into the nearby streets, passing by
The Holy Family compound. The former pastor of Holy Family spent months traveling Europe for the Byzantine design ideas for Holy Family (convenient, right?) Holy Family had been an off-shoot of St. Lawrence Church and in 1884, had been the first Roman Catholic church to do so. The school was the once the site of Library Hall, which acted as an “opry” house and assembly for all of Price Hill.
A quick search on the county auditor’s website revealed that 31 properties in and around EPH were owned by Price Hill Will. The development corporation was assisting the neighborhood in its comeback. And the community, whose property values were beginning to rise, was quiet with a mix of newly renovated and maybe never going to be renovated, but displaying a lawn jockey on their front lawn, kind of mix.
We ended our walk at the Incline House, site of the origin of the old Price Hill Incline. The first one was completed in 1874. It is said there existed one day when 30,000 passengers took the incline up the hill, to enjoy the view and imbibe, though William Price, the founder of Price Hill, was anti-liquor and thus the hill was once called Buttermilk Mountain. Hmmm….
We had recently celebrated Mark’s birthday at Primavista and wanted them to work harder to match their menu to the view. But nowadays, Primavista was not the only restaurant in town. Patrons could also enjoy the Incline Public House, Somm Wine Bar, where we met our friends who had recently moved to EPH and noted all the efforts and challenges to bringing three Prices together, which was as hard as bringing three Januzzi’s together. The Veracruz Mexican Grill was expanding and a waffle place would soon join the ranks.
This was a neighborhood with actual squares, real centers of community engagement. According to friends, EPH is gathering with neighbors in LPH and WPH to focus on defining what makes the communities unique and how to stay that way.
When I completed my walk, I went back to my map full of markings and divisions. East Price Hill appeared as a large quilt with squares comprised of distinct districts, sewn together by history and tradition, soaring views and, lucky for the neighbors, crème horns.