CINCINNATI: Time To Go Downtown…

11 Feb

ci 028 (1)

We’re exploring the streets of downtown Cincinnati Ohio; the architecture is pretty amazing here: Art Deco, Queen Ann, Neo Classical Revival and Renaissance Revival styles all share real estate with structures built from the early 1800’s to present day. Buildings are constructed of brick, stone and glass, some sport columns, leaded glass windows and fancy lighting, others are glass and metal fabrications ascending toward the sky. The old and the new, side by side. The sky is powder blue, the sun is warm, the city awaits us. We are walking around randomly with no set plan, if it’s too cold in the shade, we cross and walk in the sun, if we spot an interesting building, that’s the direction we walk, if the outside is intriguing, we pop into the lobby, this afternoon we’re just a couple of sight-seers!

ci 001 (1)

ci 006 (1)ci 003 (1)

ci 020 (1)

On Fourth Street we encounter the Western-Southern Life building, a real beauty designed by Hake and Kuck, local Cincinnati architects who designed much of the face of the city, the columns reflect the original Neo-Classical design while the newer additions are Art Deco. The University Club hardly shows its age, built in 1880, it’s just as lovely today in burgundy with cream-colored trim as it was back then. We pass brick churches with steeples and spires, they don’t seem to mind all the hustle and bustle going on around them, a two-story stone building has elongated windows. We reach the center of the city, Fountain Square, an ice rink has been set up for the time being, Ohioans are bundled up as they skate in the late afternoon sun. The focal point of the square is the Tyler Davidson Fountain, this bronze fountain was cast in Munich in 1867, it was given to the city in 1871 by Henry Probasco. Called “Genius of Water”, with the exception of the winter months, water flows from the outstretched hands of a 9-foot tall figure of a lady, the genius of water herself, below her human figures represent the practical uses of water, at the base, 4 child figures represent the pleasures of water, they look like they’re having a blast. 

ci 018ci 184 (1)

ci 165 (1)

ci 167 (1)

ci 180 (1)

We watch the skaters a while longer and then move on. Tiffany & Co has a store on the corner, above us skywalks connect buildings, giving pedestrians a break from the elements, a gorgeous gold clock juts out from the corner of an establishment. On Walnut Street, we notice a giant chandelier hanging from the front of a building, curiosity aroused, we make our way to the entrance, this is 21c, a Museum Hotel. The building itself began life in 1912 as the Metropole Hotel, complete with a second floor ballroom, rathskeller in the basement and a Turkish bath. Today it’s a marvelous mix of historic and contemporary, the first two floors make up 8,000 sq ft of exhibition space dedicated to 21st Century art, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, free of charge. The rest of the building is divided into 156 luxurious guest rooms, with a restaurant on the ground floor. Wandering through the gallery we take in the art, some of the original mosaic tile remains, in one of the hallways a projector shows images on the floor that change when someone walks through, very entertaining. The original sweeping stairway leads to the second floor of exhibits, there are some really wonderful pieces, I like the mix of art and architecture, the past and the present.

ci 185 (1)ci 255 (1)

ci 200 (1)

ci 204 (1)ci 190 (1)

Piatt Park is Cincinnati’s oldest public park, here we find statues of Presidents James Garfield and William Henry Harrison, the buildings lining the park are distinctive. The Cincinnati Bell Telephone company compels us to take a closer look, built in 1931, designed by Harry Hake (there he is again), the 12-story building is classic Art Deco. Just above the exterior first floor, relief carvings of telephones leave no doubt who occupies the building. Amazing light fixtures and metalwork adorn the building, the lobby is pretty spectacular too! In a more commercial district we find an auction house, Main Auction Galleries, loaded with mid-century design pieces, we spend a few minutes with the chrome, Lucite and Danish design pieces and one of the most bizarre dinnerware sets we’ve ever seen, before heading back onto the streets. 

ci 265 (1)

ci 257 (1)

ci 216 (1)

ci 212 (1)

Continuing on Fourth we pass the Queen City Club (1926) a private social club, pretty in the English Renaissance Revival style by Hake and Kuck (again). Making our way past the old Shillito department store, we eventually end up in a more residential district closer to the river and by the Taft Museum. Built in 1820 in the Federal style, this is one of Cincy’s most historically significant buildings; it has been a private home, a seminary and now a fine art museum. Now it’s back to the hotel for a little rest, then we’ll get dinner.

ci 268 (1)

ci 281 (1)

ci 326 (1)

Mt Adams is a quaint hilltop village that overlooks downtown Cincinnati, the Ohio River and northern Kentucky. Private homes intertwine with commercial businesses, restaurants, bars, boutiques and a fountain through a series of narrow streets criss-crossing the hill. Named after President John Quincy Adams, the village is home to the Rookwood Pottery Factory which opened in 1892, now turned restaurant, Holy Cross Immaculata Church and a monastery. It’s a fabulous place for a leisurely stroll, the views are unsurpassable. We’re having dinner at Teak Thai, in nice weather you can’t beat the patio seating, tonight we’ll be eating indoors.  Seated in the upper level, there’s barely an empty seat in sight, we make quick work of the menu and start with a bowl of miso soup. Decor is distinctly Asian as is the food, offering a huge selection of curry, satay, tempura, dumplings, rice & curry dishes, tonight we’re in the mood for sushi. The timing is perfect, just as we finish our soup our sushi rolls arrive, fresh ingredients and tasty combinations, it really hits the spot.

ci 289 (1)

ci 286 (1)

ci 319 (1)ci 314 (1)

Time to take you to our favorite place on Mt Adams, The Blind Lemon on Hatch Street. The ultimate in coziness, charm and whimsy, this is definitely a hidden gem. A small sign out front announces the establishment, from the sidewalk  descend down a narrow passageway and disappear into the basement of an 1800’s building; once inside you feel like you never want to leave. Opened in 1963, the same management runs it today; the interior is a wonderful hodgepodge of antique toy cars and trucks, airplanes, trains and pocket watches. Copper pieces hang on hooks, gold and platinum records share space with autographed pictures of entertainers, Tiffany lamps and random collectibles. In the summer months the patio is crowded with locals, high concrete walls give the impression you are far from the city, like a secret garden. There’s always live music, tonight we enjoy a solo folk artist, played at the perfect volume, we can still have a conversation while he sings. I’m having a Spanish coffee, Kris is sipping on Blanton’s Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, ah this is the life! Couldn’t ask for a better ending to the day.

ci 292 (1)

ci 293 (1)

ci 305 (1)

ci 297 (1)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: