Jessie: Over-The-Rhine, Cincinnati 

9 thoughts on “Jessie: Over-The-Rhine, Cincinnati ”

    1. You tell me. Are you getting what you want in California at a price you’re comfortable paying? Are you tied to a particular job? Are you attached to family in the area? Or are you living in squalor in California because you assume that the interior of North America is uninhabitable? I recommend you take a look-see some time and explore what your other options are… The Midwest offers a very high quality of life at 1/10th the cost.

  1. I just finished listening to this podcast; excellent piece. I’d encourage people to watch the accompanying PowerPoint slides that go with the podcast; helps people understand all it takes to make projects like this work. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I guess one question I would have, though, is how welcome Jessie is in Over the Rhine? Are there not similar gentrification tensions?

    But, of course, the politics of gentrification in San Francisco and Oakland are pretty heated as well, so…

    Great photographs. I really like that dark red brick “Germanic” Victorian vernacular of Cincinnati

    1. Great story and great comment. Gentrification is an issue here in Cincinnati. Not to the extent it is in the Bay Area but things may heat up.

      Pre-gentrification Over the Rhine was in much worse shape than most of the areas undergoing gentrification in San Francisco. It had undergone massive depopulation and a large percentage of the buildings were abandoned. There were not many people left to argue against development. It is the most visible and historically significant neighborhood so almost everyone in the city wanted something to change. Developers taking a chance on the neighborhood were (and still are) viewed as civic heroes. Obstructionist anti-development tactics were not going to get any traction.

      The gentrification argument seems to have shifted to what Over the Rhine’s turn around means for other neighborhoods. Unlike San Francisco, Cincinnati has plenty of low-income neighborhoods. The city has been a dumping ground for the regions poor since the 50’s. The argument that there are options for displaced poor people steals some of the thunder from the anti-gentrification activists. If all of our central neighborhoods gentrify displacement may get more attention but we will still be far from San Francisco’s situation where even middle class people have a hard time finding a place to live anywhere in the city.

      Personally I would like to see Cincinnati restored to its former glory. That would mean adding a huge number of people and a whole lot of wealth. We’ve lost over a third of our population since its height. Maybe more than that. The people that left took most of the money with them. If our ultimate goal is to rebuild on that scale change will touch all 52 of our neighborhoods eventually. Hopefully our leaders can manage it well if we are fortunate enough to have that kind of success.

      1. Makes sense! Thanks for the very complete picture on this issue.

        I grew up in the Midwest but due to the climate and the landscape would have serious trouble moving back. (Have you SEEN Northeastern Indiana in, say, February?) Plus, I don’t really like much of the Midwestern vernacular and townscape, to be honest, with some exceptions.

        Cincinnati is an exception…I really like the hills, the river, the distinct neighborhoods, and the red brick!

      2. Really well put. Everytime I see a Cincinnatian argue against gentrification its like they read about San Francisco, see their city change faster than its ever changed in their entire lifetime (that is how the last 10 years have been, its a shock to a place that doesn’t handle change very well) then thinks that the sky is falling because 1 neighborhood in a city full of neighborhoods that are literally on the edge of crumbling to the ground is suddenly getting expensive. Heck nearby in Covington / Newport, a block away on Court Street or even over in the remnants of the West End around Dayton street or(with its fabulous mansions that you could get for less than 100K), or in Betts Longworth where its a lot less off the beaten path there are still plenty of deals for Cincinnatians even in its most core downtown adjacent neighborhoods – many are in fine shape but super undervalued.

        Gentrification is sorely needed for Cincy to survive – much of that amazing built environment other people have talked about needs to be restored soon or else it will be wiped off the map. When I lived there I saw so many gorgeous buildings get torn down that the locals just didn’t care about. Cincy desperately needs outsiders perspectives to save it from itself.

      3. I was in OTR last month and came away really impressed. I’ve lived in Cleveland my whole life, but this was the first time I’ve been to Cinci.

        The two cities are similar enough though that I can be pretty confident in saying gentrification is an overblown issue. Really all the Rust Belt has suffered from tremendous disinvestment, so revitalizing places like OTR are more than welcome.

        Apartments like those Jessie is renting out are still affordable for many working people. The restaurant and retail scenes have created hundreds of jobs. While these are generally low paying types of jobs, they’re also the type that are open to neighborhood residents who previously lacked job opportunities, especially if they didn’t own cars. And of course a reliable source of income goes a long way in helping a person stay in their home.

        And honestly, it’s not that big of a neighborhood. Cincinnati as a whole gentrifying would be a problem, as low income residents would be pushed further and further out into desolate, car dependent, decaying suburbs. Someone pushed out of OTR due to rising rents can almost assuredly find another place within walking distance. And someone who owned property would make out like a bandit if they chose to sell. This still may not be ideal and I do have empathy for people who are essentially forced to move, but a lack of investment in the neighborhood would be even worse.

  3. Great story. I moved back to Buffalo from San Diego about 8 years ago and bought a beautiful 1920’s craftsman in a “streetcar suburban” neighborhood in the city. My mortgage (15 year) now is about the same as my rent was then, and I have twice the square footage, a small bit of yard, and a garage, all of which i didn’t have before.

    I can easily walk to buy groceries or to a restaurant, my home’s walkscore is 77, which isn’t perfect, but it’s improving all the time. We have a new food co-op opening within a few blocks of my house and an old oil change place is being renovated into a cool mexican restaurant with an enormous outdoor patio covering half of the pavement. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in one of your posts…

    My home’s value has increased by 50% in these past 5 years. The secret is out!

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