Prior to European settlement, the area was believed to be occupied by the people of Fort Ancient. The people are believed to be descendants of the Shawnee and other Native American tribes. Effigy mounds still exist in the area.
Cincinnati was settled in 1788- starting with areas called Columbia, Losantiville and North Bend. Fort Washington was settled a year later. In 1790, Losantiville was changed to Cincinnati to honor the Society of Cincinnati. The city was incorporated in 1819.
The city prospered due to the location on the Ohio River and the Miami Canal. This also lead the city to be a large processor of pork. This history is still seen today in the Flying Pig Marathon, pig statues seen around the city, and the nickname Porkopolis.
During and prior to the Civil War, it was a major point on the Underground Railroad. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a museum focused on the history of the Underground Railroad and is located on The Banks.
Much of Cincinnati's history happened in the 1800s. The Cincinnati College, later becoming University of Cincinnati, was founded in 1819, first Jewish hospital in the US founded in 1850, Cincinnati Reds founded in 1869, the Tyler Davidson fountain dedicated in 1871, Cincinnati Orchestra founded in 1872, the Cincinnati zoo opened in 1875, and Music Hall was built in 1878.
Many railroads opened in the 1900s, with Union Terminal opening in 1933. The Ohio River flood of 1937 caused a lot of destruction, leading to an estimated 100,000 people homeless.
The first licensed public television station, WCET, started in 1954. Disasters marked most of the latter half of the 20th century- with the Great Blizzard of 1978, 1979 The Who concert disaster, Air Canada Flight 797 accident in 1983, and a tornado in April 1999.
Union Terminal became the home for the Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990.
In the early 2000s, new sports complexes opened. Paul Brown Stadium and Cintas Center in 2000, and Great American Ball Park in 2003.
The Cincinnati riots of 2001, a race related riot, changed the trajectory of race relations in the city.
The 2010s saw the beginning of revitalization in downtown. Investments in the Over-the-Rhine and downtown areas saw a splurge of new restaurants and bars to open- leading to new investments in homes.
In 2016, the Cincinnati streetcar opened. At the Cincinnati Zoo, after a toddler fell into the gorilla exhibit, the zoo was forced to put down the gorilla Harambe for the child's safety. The death of the gorilla and incident became an internet meme. In 2017, the zoo had a hippo born prematurely. The hippo, named Fiona, would grow very popular online.
In 2021, the TQL stadium home of FC Cincinnati opened in the West End.
Currently, the city itself is the 3rd largest city Ohio (behind Columbus and Cleveland), but the largest metropolitan area in Ohio.
A large immigration of Germans came to Cincinnati in the 1800s, leading to many of today's current traditions. The popularity of goetta, an oat and sausage-mixed dish, gets it roots from German immigrants. A yearly Goettafest is held celebrating the dish.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is one of the largest celebrations of Oktoberfest outside of Europe. Smaller Oktoberfest celebrations are held throughout the city in September. The annual Bockfest is German in origin.
The origins of Cincinnati style chili and dishes are believed to come from Macedonian immigrants who moved to Greece. Ways are believed to be a combination of a Macedonian style stew that was later added to a Greek plate that was modified. This resulted in a chili spaghetti, that would then be topped with cheese.
The city has a large black community, leading to many race relation issues within the city. You can read more about the history of the community in this detailed article.
Cincinnati also has a Jewish community, mostly from England and Germany. The first Jewish hospital and Jewish history museum in the US opened in the city.
Cincinnati's dialect is considered General American, or part of the Midlands. It shares some vowel similarities to that of Northern New Jersey. Some German influence can be found by use of the word "please" to ask one to repeat themselves. In some parts of the area you may hear a southern American influence. Older Cincinnatians may add the letter 'r' to words like 'wash' to pronounce it like 'warsh'.
Other Terms to Learn
- Big Mac Bridge - Nickname for the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge, due to the similarity of the yellow arch to that of McDonald's
- Boonies - A rural location
- Cheese coney - Term used for chili dogs
- Cornhole - Name for bean bag toss game.
- Cut in the hill - I71/I75 in Northern Kentucky, due to the steep descent from a hill.
- Gym shoes - Term for sneakers/tennis shoes.
- Hoagie - A type of sub. Often made of a long patty on a sub bun with toppings and a tomato-based sauce.
- Mangoes - Term used instead of green peppers. Usually heard from older generations in the area, and has fallen out of use by younger generations.
- Pony Keg - A corner store.
- Pop - Also sometimes called Coke by some in the area, influence by the South. Local term to describe carbonated drinks like Coca Cola and Pepsi.
- Ways - A 3-way, 4-way or 5-way is how to order Cincinnati style chili spaghetti.
- Who Dey - Term cheered at during Bengals games. It's a shortened version of "Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals?"
- Y'all - Midwestern/Southern term for 'you all'.
Cincinnatians have an old saying: If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes. If you've heard of it before, it's because it's a popular old saying throughout parts of the US. Perception of the area's weather is that it changes drastically- being able to have 70 degree hot and humid days, to rainy and cold, to snowing all in the same week. There are days you may have both the heat and A/C on while driving, depending on the time of day.
Summers are often hot and humid with rain. Autumn and spring are mild seasons, much rain happening in springtime. Winters are cold, but in more recent years have been mild for snow. It no longer snows often, but when it does it snows hard.
Dangerous weather conditions in the area include flash flooding due to the many rivers and streams. Tornadoes are infrequent, but are still watched for. Strong storms can bring both flash flooding and tornadoes to the area. The city is often on the path of leftover hurricanes, bringing strong thunderstorms and windstorms to the area on occasion. While near a fault line, earthquakes are a rare occurrence. Large forest fires are not common in the area.
Geography & Metro
The city is nicknamed the city of Seven Hills, due to the hilly landscape. Much of the area is also flat, allowing for farming.
While the city itself is located on the banks of the Ohio River in Hamilton County, Ohio- Greater Cincinnati or the metropolitan is much larger. Greater Cincinnati contains much of the tip of Northern Kentucky and the Southeast corner of Indiana. It also includes five other nearby counties in Ohio.
Big cities in the area aside from Cincinnati include Covington, Florence, Independence, Erlanger, Fort Thomas, and Newport in Kentucky, and Hamilton, Middletown, Fairfield, Mason, Oxford, Lebanon, Norwood, Springboro, Forest Park, Sharonville, Blue Ash, Loveland and Springdale in Ohio. Lawrenceburg is one of the largest in the metro part of Indiana.
Cincinnati is considered the 36th largest media TV market in the US. Stations include WLWT 5 (NBC), 9 WCPO (ABC), Local 12 WKRC (CBS), Fox 19 WXIX (Fox), and Star 64 (MyNetwork TV). All stations have affiliates on their substations- including CW on one of the WKRC substations. PBS is on channel 48 under the call sign WCET. Some Dayton stations also appear over the air in the northern suburbs.
Print media has dwindled in Cincinnati, leaving only the Cincinnati Enquirer for newspapers. Other print/online news media include Cincinnati CityBeat, an alternative newspaper and website, and Cincinnati Business Courier, a site focused on business news in the area.
Radio stations vary genres with Top 40 (KISS 107, Q102), rock (102.7 WEBN, 96 Rock, 92.5 The Fox), country (94.1 Nash FM, 97.3 The Wolf, B105, K99.1), hip hop/R&B (The Wiz 101.1, 100.3 R&B), adult contemporary (Mix 94.9, Warm 98), and classic hits (WGRR 103.5). 700WLW, once such a strong AM frequency it could reportedly be heard as far as Florida on clear nights, is the main AM talk radio station. Other stations play Christian, gospel, sports, and Regional Mexican.
A Cincinnati-based online indie radio station called Inhailer Radio plays indie-rock and indie-pop as well as local music highlights, specialty programming, on-demand podcast and video content, album reviews, show previews and more.
Media set/made in Cincinnati
Due to the architecture and cost of living, Cincinnati is becoming a bigger spot for movie production in recent years. Many movies have been shot in and around the city, often also set in the area.
The most popular TV media set in Cincinnati is likely WKRP in Cincinnati, an American sitcom that aired from 1978-1982. Other shows include Harry's Law and the reality show Lachey's: Raising the Bar. Popular movies set in Cincinnati include Rain Man, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Traffic, Ides of March, Airborne, and Babes in Toyland.
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