Of Bikers and Vikings – Gettin’ My 52 on in the East End

This is my thirty-fifth 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.

Another walk, another one shut down by rain. Argh.

The East End truly was more bike friendly than foot friendly. My husband even suggested, as we drove out to the neighborhood, “We could have biked.” He was right. But there were plenty of places where I couldn’t take my bike to find the interesting nooks and crannies that draw me in.

We began at Lunken Airport, where according to Google, some of East End encompasses that land. We walked partly around the trail and found a hangar which belonged to Proctor and Gamble. The facility resembled something out of a sci-fi novel, especially with all the warnings posted..

According to its master plan, Lunken Airport now occupies the area on which the early settlers built the town of “Columbia”, later to be called “Cincinnati”. Since this area was subject to flooding, the development of Cincinnati moved to higher ground in succeeding decades, while the original site became grain fields. After World War I, a group of ex-army pilots leveled off one of these grain fields,
and built a small barnstorming airport. With the subsequent interest shown in aviation by Charles Lindbergh’s trans-oceanic solo flight, a prominent Cincinnati industrialist, Mr. Edmund H. Lunken, purchased the property… Lunken Airport became one of the first and largest municipal airports in the United States.

We headed south on Wilmer and along what became Kellogg Avenue once more, where alas, there were no sidewalks. Up ahead, the properties along Kellogg consisted mainly of yards for car parts, the Cameo nightclub, and limited access marinas.

Stymied by the traffic, we turned around. Mark loved to veer and he never minded veering off MY path.

Thus, we took a detour into Peddler’s Mall and then continued along Riverside Drive. There, as we traipsed in and out of “No Outlet” streets, we discovered a few lesser-known marinas and The Viking Club. (Gift yourself the extra ten minutes to watch the video!)

The rain was looming and thus we stopped the walk for the day, bought a few ears of corn at the local farmer’s stand near the Lunken Trail, and headed home. I was dejected. It took a lot of energy for me to fit the walks into my schedule and the weather. I became antsy because of my internal goals.

Three days later, I returned to the East End by 6:30 a.m. It was a gorgeous day to stroll along the river and every chance I had, I followed a “no outlet” sign to cozy up to the water’s edge along Riverside Drive.

Plenty of construction was happening now in the East End. It was hard to believe no one had developed along the tracks or river sooner.

As I passed the Water Works, I discovered tile insets that I had never seen from my car or bike. I circled around the backside of old churches (St. Rose) and the Ohio River Trail (see map. I love the Cleveland reference).

The main small business center of the neighborhood started near Columbia- Tusculum  about where Eastern and Kellogg split off at Delta. Eastern was a quiet walk. (Kellogg was filled with light industrial centers.) The Hi-water mark will soon be bar, brought to you by the famous Eli’s BBQ of the East End, and Pho Lang Thang.

I found the Irish Cultural Center on the site of an old school. (I’ve yet to find an Italian one), a few breweries, and a candle shop where Shannon and her friend had just purchased candles via this store’s setup at City Flea. See? Connections.

As I dropped back down to Kellogg and circled back along Riverside Drive, I traipsed in and out of cutouts in the river’s course.

Then I found Hoff Avenue, thanks to a deer. A deer had bounded down the hill where steps ran alongside. I watched him for a while, as he contemplated crossing the busy street and I contemplated him. He took back up the hill (not the steps). I followed him and crossed a set of tracks that led to Hoff Avenue. There were maybe eight homes along the stretch, but plenty of vacant land. The views were just fine and so were the breezes. I’m sure this area would be developed soon, but could not find information after a cursory glance on the internet. For now, the signs were pretty clear. No trespassing. And a sign I could not see read either GUARD DOG or a BAD DOG. I could only make out the last “D” and then “Dog”. I went with the former, since I didn’t want to experience what a bad dog might do to my legs.

Once west of Collins, more shoring up of land along the tracks to prevents slides was occurring.

The East End council is currently at work, designating the area “that spans from Schmidt Field to Delta Avenue in the east-west direction and from Riverside Dr. to the Ohio River in the north-south direction” the East End Garden District. Districts are the next hot button for neighborhoods. There are few in OTR, the Gateway, the Brewery, and within the brewery, Findlay Market is at work on their own. I suppose its easier to gain funding or develop projects when a community can create landmark areas, but for now, I was not completely convinced of the need to further segment.

The East End has a healthy LeBlond Recreation Center,  Riverview East Academy, a K-12 CPS School of Choice (magnet), which sits on stilts (still waiting on an explanation for building a newer school in a flood plan) and is also home to the famous Verdin Bell companies sites.

FullSizeRender_3After walking nine miles in total, I would bike the next time I was in the East End. It was the most efficient means to see and travel across the community. It’s a great ride from downtown to the airport and eventual connection to other trails. And I might even remember to bring money to stop at Fuel – a cars and coffee shop.

Driving along Riverside and taking in the river’s course was the closest I could come to long jaunts along Lake Erie, eating banana soft-serve from Dairy Isle in the back of Dad’s wagon. I’m still in search of the soft-serve in the East End.

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