You can’t go to Over the Rhine without finding something beautiful. This is true. Yesterday it was the fire escapes. Weird right? Maybe it was the time of evening or the October weather. Or maybe it was the way sunbeams hit the brick of century old buildings.
Perhaps the empty streets made the neighborhood more picturesque than usual. No final Friday, or second Sunday, or third Thursday, or whatever else hipsters will invent to peddle their purses made from seatbelts or their vegan muffins. OTR was real last night. Old school. No posers.
Now is when most Cincinnati bloggers will try to convince you of how perfect Over the Rhine is. They’ll talk about how there is nothing wrong with OTR. There’s no crime. Everything is fine because white people armed with converse and iPhones go there and drink over priced beer. They’ll rationalize that if white people are buying $10 hotdogs at Senate, then OTR has officially arrived. Right?
Not so much. Bars where you pay $6.50 for a glass of bourbon and a dirty look from a tattooed bartender are a very small facet of neighborhood resurgence.
Sometimes, during the week, I’ll take Eloise to dojo gelato for a treat. That’s when you can grasp that perhaps it’s still not a nice neighborhood. There are prostitutes, drug dealers, and garbage. Garbage just thrown in the street or on the curb. Drug dealers trying to use Taste of Belgium’s phone to make deals. Prostitutes standing at the entrance to Findlay Market. I’m not saying it’s unsafe. I never feel threatened or worried when I go down for a treat with my 2-year-old. But there is crime. Believe that. These things will have to change for OTR to be a viable destination for most people. You hipsters are thinking “if you don’t like OTR the way it is then we don’t want you.” Unfortunately, you need all types to revitalize a neighborhood. Right now there is still something about OTR that keeps people away. I’d guess it’s 80% fear mongering by Cincinnati media and 20% facts. That 20% of factual shit that keeps OTR from being an amazing urban neighborhood is what worries me.
At some point the young men and women that have invested in this neighborhood will have to consider raising a child in this neighborhood. They’ll have to consider the schools. Consider the friends their children will have. Consider the safety of their children while playing on the stoop. It gets done. People are raising children right now in Over the Rhine. I know this. I just think it can get better. It needs to continue to get better for this to be a more widely accepted place to live, work, and play.
OTR is close. Really only needs a few things to push it into a successful urban neighborhood. It doesn’t need to be mainstream to be successful but it needs to be more acceptable. It needs a grocery store. The people who live there have to drive to a proper grocery store. An urban neighborhood should be equipped with a grocery store. It’s a reason you choose urban living. Everything you need within walking distance. Or at least accessible via efficient public transport. OTR has no grocery and no efficient public transport. Hopefully the streetcar will be a step in the right direction.
OTR also needs a proper bar. A bar where everyone is welcome. A place where even if you don’t know the bartender you’ll be served a drink quickly. A bar that will ask if you want another drink when you’re finished with your first. My dream bar in OTR would be a place where people would drink their beer and talk to strangers, instead of taking a picture of their beer and tweeting it to followers.
Today, I thought I’d post six pictures of fire escapes and be done. Dunno what came over me. I would like to say that Over the Rhine is a beautiful neighborhood. It’s a real gem. Each alley has a surprise. A brick road that you’ve never seen. A wrought iron fence in front of a row house. But I expect more. I want more from Over the Rhine. I want these alleyways to rival the European alleys I love. Alleys full of pedestrians and commerce. We’re lucky to have this neighborhood. Lucky to have the history so intact. I just pine for more life in Over the Rhine. More diverse life. Not just poor people and hipsters.
The exception to the stereotype I’ve just laid out is the weekend morning Findlay Market crowd. They’re able to draw people of all types to the market and it’s a pleasure to see.
Maybe someday people will take the streetcar from the river to an even more thriving OTR. Maybe even tweet about having a pint at the brewery.