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?