This is my forty-second 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.
That’s just what I wanted to know and found out. But not as soon as I had planned. The fog rolled in that morning, and despite my best efforts, I thought it unwise to walk a community where I usually meandered with little plan, if I couldn’t see a foot in front of me.
So, I returned later in the day, after the sunshine had burned off the fog and I convinced Mark to join me. He cracked a few jokes the entire drive about the location of East Westwood. Is that west of Eastwood, or east of Westwood? He was relentless and also, I didn’t have an answer.
Mark once lived in Westwood. He had never heard of East Westwood back in the 1990’s. To back him up, both books I had been using as reference, WPA Guide to Cincinnati, and Cincinnati Observed, made no mention of East Westwood. Also, in the WPA Guide, which did reference a tour through Westwood, the area encompassing East Westwood appeared as a blank canvas on the page.
We parked at Roll Hill School on Baltimore Avenue, a community learning center of CPS that promoted a technology-based learning program, with a healthy list of partners. With upcoming elections, I would advise readers to learn more about the structure of the CPS system and how some of the schools are independently governed, act as a magnet school, or act as a community learning center. And also, how to get involved in schools where support is necessary.
We trudged up what was probably Roll Hill. In doing so, and because Mark was gearing up for college football season as a beleaguered ND fan, we both uttered “Roll tide” under our breath as we traipsed up the incline.
Down Hawkins Street was the new neighborhood playground, recently completed as part of the city’s neighborhood enhancement programs (NEP). Children were already taking advantage of the sunshine and space.
We turned down McHenry. The McHenry corridor was another main artery traveling through East Westwood. I snapped a few photos and found the lot where the community garden will be planted (see NEP program) once a few lot restrictions had been ironed out. Another component of the NEP programs was for crime reduction.
According to the city’s website, “In 2016 the City launched PIVOT, a data-driven, city-wide violence reduction plan rooted in the place-based policing model. The first PIVOT location was East Westwood/Westwood, with a special focus on the McHenry Corridor between Harrison and Baltimore avenues. Key results included a dramatic reduction in shootings, violent crime and weapons-related calls.”
To effectively walk the rest of East Westwood, we approached Westwood-Northern and walked up to and along Montana, where Mark used to live. Later, I planned give myself credit for walking a part of Westwood, because we did quite a hefty hike through that neighborhood that day.
Mark was still with me, later in that day. I parked the car in the lower portion of EWW, near Scarlato’s Pizza which had quite heavy hitter list of hoagies on their menu. We walked down Saffer Road, which revealed a few amazing views from the top of a hill that overlooked the city and the North and South Fairmounts. Most of the homes were built in the 1950’s, though we did find one on the street that appeared to have been built in the Italianate-style architecture.
However, I still had no more of narrative for East Westwood than I had before. I attempted to make contact with an email address associated with the EWW community council. I also sent an email to the Westwood Historical Association and an received a reply with no more clarification, except my contact presumed East Westwood was a newer designated neighborhood. I hoped to update the information as it trickled back to me.
In the end, I was left with a hill, and a few more. But no history. No historical markers. No interactions with residents or any instantaneous connections to others. Only a hill. But maybe that’s all it took to begin a new narrative. Perhaps the only lesson was that East Westwood’s lack of identity had forced me to make reach out and make connections to others where first there had been none.