Tag Archives: Cincinnati

Ohio Loses Population

The state of Ohio lost population overall for the first time in nearly a decade, according to a study by Community Research Partners.


90.3 WCPN in Cleveland reports that the state lost 35,000 residents. In-migration and birth rates were not able to offset the decline.

Experts believe the out-migration can be traced to job loss. Ohio has a tendency to lose residents during a recession, experts report.

Franklin County, home to Columbus, managed to avoid the decline and gained residents. Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County and Cincinnati’s Hamilton County both lost residents overall.


Filed under Art, Brain Drain, Economic Development, Featured, The Big Urban Photography Project

Can an Oil Crisis Save the Rust Belt?

Christopher Steiner’s new book $20 Per Gallon is an interesting read. The book’s thesis is that oil and gasoline prices will appreciate over time. Not just to $4 per gallon like we saw last summer, but significantly higher as supply dwindles and demand continues to pick up steam. It’s not all bad news, though. One potential revival that Steiner points to is the resurgence of Rust Belt cities; some of the same cities that have been badly struggling over the past few years.

AP Oil at 120

Admittedly, it’s a plausible theory. Rust Belt cities developed infrastructure long before car culture dominated our society and sprawl was how “normal” people lived. These cities were densely populated and designed to support a lifestyle around walkability and community. They thrived before sprawl was an option, and they can thrive again when sprawl is no longer an option.

Once oil prices pass a certain threshold, it will no longer be about preference. Whether or not people prefer to live in exurban subdivisions or downtown lofts won’t matter. How affordable those places will become will drive decision making. In such an environment, no metro areas have better opportunities for urban growth than those in the Rust Belt.

Consider that the city of Cleveland has lost over 50% of its population since its peak. The city could essentially double in size and still not be any larger than it historically has been. A similar story holds for Saint Louis (60% loss), Buffalo (52% loss), Cincinnati (34% loss) and Baltimore (33% loss). Contrast this with Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix, which currently face population at their all-time highs. Not only that, but new Sun Belt cities were planned, designed, and built like pseudo-suburbs, so converting them to the same level of density as older cities will prove challenging.

Cheering for rapidly appreciating oil prices isn’t a very popular thing to do. I’m not sure it’s an economically responsible thing to do either. But my faith in the revitalization of Rust Belt cities on their own merits is fragile. Maybe some of them will prove able to successfully turn around regardless of oil prices. Others might not. No doubt, Rust Belt cities are well positioned for an oil crisis. The question is how soon it will come, how rapidly it will occur, and how smart Rust Belt leaders will be about it.

Rob Pitingolo


Filed under the environment, Urban Planning

Cincinnati gets a Shout Out in the NYT

So, do you think one New York Times reporter is touring the Rust Belt on a mission to tell the other side of the story, you know the life goes on side?

That’s my best guess after features on Cleveland and Pittsburgh and now this one on The Queen City, not that Cincinnati doesn’t deserve this upbeat feature in the paper’s travel section.

No story of Cincinnati could be complete without mention of Over-The-Rhine and the race roits of 2001, could it?

But the Times gives the city credit for downtown redevelopment projects as well as “cool music venues, funky shopping outlets and smart culinary options.”

Whoot, whoot!



Filed under Featured

Photo Tour: Cleveland’s Abandoned Subway

Cleveland is one of many Rust Belt cities that once operated a subway system. Twice a year, they open it up for tours and also hold an art show inside.


The subway closed in 1954, according to The Plain Dealer.


You can see here where it has been sealed off.


About 1,400 people attend these tours semi-annually.


My friend, Greg Ruffing, Cleveland’s finest freelance photographer, donated these amazing photos.



I heard Cincinnati has a subway that was never finished. Also, Atlanta, Georgia, uses their defunct subway lines as a mall.


This looks like a really neat event.


Filed under Featured, The Big Urban Photography Project

Cincinnati’s Prospect Hill

More urban photography from readers across the region. Today’s edition: Cincinnati’s Prospect Hill.


Continue reading


Filed under The Big Urban Photography Project

Welcome to the Forefront of the Housing Crisis, Cincinnati, Columbus and Indianapolis

It’s kinda nice to read a story about the housing crisis that isn’t set in my backyard (Cleveland) for once.

This time, my hometown of Columbus is front and center in the sad story of houses without owners. A neighborhood in west Columbus was found to have the highest vacancy rate in the country, according to an Associated Press analysis, based on Housing and Urban Development and Postal Service data.

This is kinda unusual because Columbus is generally regarded to be the golden child of Ohio in these parts.

I know the Columbus neighborhood well. Continue reading


Filed under Urban Planning

Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine

There are few more compelling or storied neighborhoods in Cincinnati than Over The Rhine.


I say this from experience because I spent a year in The Queen City as a college undergraduate. The neighborhood I lived in bordered Over The Rhine and one of me and my friends’ favorite things to do on a sunny afternoon was drive through the hills and valleys and deeper into the city.

Over The Rhine was the first stop and the neighborhood always made me check my locks, hold my breath and duck down in my seat. It was crime-ridden and desperately poor and my white-collar Columbus eyes had never seen anything like it.

There would be toddlers unattended in the streets and makeshift memorials on telephone poles. The most startling image was a public art project near a park on Vine Street. Someone had painted larger-than-life children at play in vivid color on a brick wall. And then someone else had come along and spray painted each child’s face a ghostly white.

When I was in school there it was 2001 and 2002. And just before I arrived, there had been race riots that originated in Over The Rhine stemming from claims of police brutality. Shortly after, I heard the NAACP was boycotting the city because conditions in this neighborhood were considered worse than post-Civil-War Alabama.

I am, some might say, an admirer of rough neighborhoods. And I would say Over The Rhine was surely one of the roughest neighborhoods in the Mid-West. The movie Traffic was filmed there and my appraisal is that it was pretty accurate in its portrayal of the neighborhood as a major drug marketplace.

I figured it was a symptom of Cincinnati’s famously conservative edge. So I was surprised to hear recently that developers had started building high-end condos in the neighborhood. But maybe I shouldn’t have been.



I haven’t been back in years, but it looks like things have really started to turn around in Over The Rhine. From what I read, a tremendously successful urban renewal effort has taken root here, with $93 million (correct me if I’m wrong) invested in the neighborhood since 2006.

A little background: like many of our rougher neighborhoods, Over The Rhine is one of Cincinnati’s oldest. It was founded by German immigrants–hence the name–prior to 1850. It is known for its 19th Century Italianate architecture.



The whole neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s. That’s the thing about Cincinnati, it’s a grand old city. One of the striking things about it, is the views from the rolling hills of the beginnings of Appalachia sloping down into the Ohio River. It always makes me think of Old Jim and Huckleberry Finn.


Today, the neighborhood is home to many artists and young professionals, although it remains ethnically diverse, reports say. And targeted police efforts have led to a marked reduction in crime. Check it out …


I really never thought I would see this happen. And I used to think what a disgrace this neighborhood was, so close to Cincinnati’s beautiful downtown. All I can say is, way to go Cincinnati and thank you to Kevin Lemaster of Building Cincinnati for donating the photos, who has also provided shots of some of the city’s other beautiful neighborhoods.


Next up is Prospect Hill …


Note: submissions are rolling in for The Big Urban Photography Project. We have had volunteers step forward from Erie, Pennsylvania, Midland, Michigan and Youngstown, Ohio. It looks like this thing is going to live up to its name. I’m thinking, book deal!


Filed under The Big Urban Photography Project