Rebuilding Cincinnati’s once proud city-wide streetcar network

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Cincinnati’s great collection of neighborhoods were built off of streetcar lines.

Cincinnati boasted some 222 miles of streetcar tracks that reached all parts of the city. The area became famous for not only its inclines, that allowed streetcars to move passengers up and down the city’s steep hillsides, but also its streetcar vehicles like the Cincinnati PCC, open-air viewing cars, or double-decker streetcars.

The massive network, at its peak, moved approximately 100 million passengers a year and allowed for many of the city’s neighborhoods to grow and prosper. This network, however, was completely ripped out and dismantled by 1951 when lines servicing Clifton and Westwood were shuttered.

Current plans for Cincinnati’s modern streetcar system include lines that would connect Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Mt. Auburn, Clifton Heights, Avondale, Corryville and potentially University Heights and Fairview. Subsequent extensions could quickly expand the network to Newport, Covington, Queensgate, Walnut Hills, Clifton, Camp Washington, Northside and the West End.

While those plans for future extensions have yet to be completed, construction is moving full steam ahead on phase one and preliminary work on phase two has already begun. Take a look at what those phase one and two lines would look like overlaid on the city’s historical streetcar network. We have lots of work to do!

Cincinnati Streetcar Network

Streetcar spurring “largest mixed-use development” in Portland’s history

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Those of you who have been to Portland have been able to see first-hand how transformative their modern streetcar system has been. Several neighborhoods have seen massive private investment as a result of the system’s various lines, and the latest extension east across the city’s river is now causing the same impact there.

Hassalo on Eighth, a $200M mixed-use development, is the largest in the city’s history and sits right on the streetcar line. It is located in a part of town called the Lloyd District, which has long been dominated by automobile-oriented buildings.

The new project has already torn down parking garages and will replace them with a 21-story tower, a 6-story structure and a 5-story building. Those three buildings will house 657 residential units and 58,000 square feet of commercial space. The project will also retrofit 240,000 square feet of existing commercial space.

Modern streetcar systems have the ability to be game changers if done right. Cincinnati’s will be no different.

Instead of investments being focused on cars (parking garages and travel speeds), they will be focused on people and how they move about their urban environment.

We may not see a massive $200M project like this along the first phase of the Cincinnati Streetcar, but there is no doubt that a project like this will come along at some point. And that will just be the icing on the cake after all of the other private investments.

Support pro-streetcar candidates at El Coyote this Thursday

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From the University of Cincinnati assessment of the Streetcar Feasibility Study
From the University of Cincinnati assessment of the Streetcar Feasibility Study.

We are nearing the Mayoral primary to be held on September 10. On the ballot will be three streetcar opponents (Jim Berns, Sandra Queen Noble, John Cranley) and one streetcar supporter (Roxanne Qualls). Obviously, we hope that you support the mayoral candidate who supports this dynamic project currently underway, and will work toward building extensions that head into Cincinnati’s great neighborhoods.

You can show your support this Thursday at a fundraiser for Roxanne Qualls and Wendall Young (pro-streetcar city council candidate). The fundraiser will take place downtown at El Coyote, which sits directly on the phase one streetcar route, and will start at 5:30 P.M.

You can RSVP for the event through Roxanne Qualls’ campaign website, but we also encourage you to RSVP on Facebook so that all of your friends can see your support.

Here’s what John Schneider, the host of the event, has to say about the two candidates:

Twenty years ago, Roxanne Qualls began to reshape our city in ways that are more apparent every day. A three-term mayor of Cincinnati and president of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, she first proposed regional rail transit and has been the Cincinnati Streetcar’s principal champion on City Council.

Against great odds, she seized the opportunity to narrow Fort Washington Way and claim our riverfront for the first time in 225 years and reinvested in Findlay Market and new housing choices. She’ll need Wendell Young to be re-elected to City Council, for without a future-focused Council, Cincinnati could easily revert to the lazy city of a decade ago.

If you support the Cincinnati Streetcar then you should support the candidates who have taken a clear position of support on the project (Roxanne Qualls for Mayor and Wendell Young, Laure Quinlivan, Yvette Simpson, Chris Seelbach, Shawn Butler, Greg Landsman, Mike Moroski, and Michelle Dillingham for City Council).

J. Hamman Prime steakhouse to open along phase one streetcar route

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J. Hamman PrimeIt seems like each day that goes by there is an announcement for yet another investment along the first phase of the Cincinnati Streetcar. Now surely not all of this is just because of the streetcar, but certainly some of it is.

The latest piece of news, as reported by the Business Courier, is the new J. Hamman Prime steakhouse that will open at the southeast corner of 6th and Walnut streets. The restaurant will take the place of the former Oceanaire Seafood Room and Bartini Martini Lounge.

It is one of the first leases signed by Anderson Birkla Investment Partners as part of their $41 million project to redevelop the aging office tower into AT580 – a primarily residential tower with offices and street-level retail.

This is a prime location in the heart of the Backstage Entertainment District and just a block from Fountain Square. The site is also just a block away from Government Square and will be located within a block of three streetcar stops.

We hope you’re hungry!