Cincinnati Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Cincinnati

The city of Cincinnati was named after the Society of Cincinnati, the nation's oldest patriotic society. The land that became Cincinnati had previously been occupied by Fort Washington. Prior to that, it was home to the Shawnee and a series of other tribes like the Miami, Ojibwe and Lenape.

The early settlers of Cincinnati were primarily veterans from the Revolutionary War. They were granted land, which some settled and some sold for profit. The area proved to be a popular location as the city grew from 1,000 in 1803 to 10,000 by 1820.

Cincinnati has played a large role in the history of the United States. Arguably one of the most important roles was as a stop along the Underground Railroad. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center honors the legacy of the Underground Railroad while reminding visitors that much work is still needed to be done to secure equality in the country.

After the Civil War, the city stood at the forefront of engineering feats. The Roebling Suspension Bridge, erected in 1866, was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge is thought of as a modern marvel that paved the way for changes in the design of bridges.

Tourists to Cincinnati will find a number of other important stops on their walking tour. Some of these include Fountain Square, Findlay Market and Smale Riverfront Park.

Take this self-guided tour to see some of Cincinnati's most important and historic places.
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Cincinnati Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Cincinnati Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Cincinnati (See other walking tours in Cincinnati)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Roebling Suspension Bridge
  • Smale Riverfront Park
  • Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
  • Carew Tower Observation Deck
  • Fountain Square
  • Washington Park
  • Music Hall
  • Findlay Market
1
Roebling Suspension Bridge

1) Roebling Suspension Bridge (must see)

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge crosses the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky. The bridge is known for being the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was originally built in 1866.

The Covington and Cincinnati Bridge Company formed in 1846 for the sole purpose of building this bridge. Though the company was greeted with much opposition from the outset, construction finally began in 1856. John A. Roebling was the architect hired for this job as his previous work, including the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, had shown that he was able to design a bridge of the substantial length required.

Previously known as the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge, the Roebling Suspension Bridge is 1,642 feet and 11 inches in length. It no longer sees the heavy vehicle transit that it once did, but it continues to be a popular pedestrian bridge. Visitors can enjoy views of the Ohio River while on their way to or from the Great American Ballpark, Paul Brown Stadium and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
2
Smale Riverfront Park

2) Smale Riverfront Park (must see)

Smale Riverfront Park is a park located on the bank of the Ohio River between Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ballpark. The park connects Bicentennial Commons and Sawyer Point to create almost three miles of green space along the river.

Smale Riverfront Park was created through a $20 million gift from John G. Smale, former CEO of Procter & Gamble. He gifted the funds for the park in honor of his wife, Phyllis.

Construction on the park began in 2008. It opened to the public in May 2012 though construction was not completed until 2015. The 40 acres of park include bike and walking trails, boat docks, playgrounds, water features, a promenade, festival space and a carousel.

Tourists of the city enjoy Smale Riverfront Park for the spectacular views of the river and easy access to downtown Cincinnati. It is a good stopping place while visiting Cincinnati's numerous historic sites and entertainment venues.
3
Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum

3) Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum

Located next to the Great American Ballpark, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum offers photographs and displays from throughout the history of Cincinnati's Major League Baseball team.

The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame was established in 1958. Every other year, players, managers and executives are inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. These inductees are voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The Hall of Fame Museum was opened in 2004. Items on display date all the way back to 1869 when the Cincinnati Red Stockings were newly formed. Other items featured in exhibits include Topps trading cards, artifacts from the 1919 World Series, jerseys from the Cincinnati Tigers and each of the World Series trophies that have been earned by the team.

Visitors will see the Hall of Fame Gallery that features touchscreen to display more information about each of the inductees. Tourists will see images of such baseball greats as Frank Robinson, Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ernie Lombardi.
4
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

4) National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (must see)

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a museum that covers the origins and history of the underground railroad. It is located near the banks of the Ohio River as many enslaved people found their freedom by crossing the river and seeking refuge in Cincinnati.

Construction of the museum began in 2002. Groundbreaking ceremonies were attended by Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali and First Lady Michelle Obama. It was designed by Boora Architects with a travertine stone and copper facade.

Among the exhibits in the museum is an 1830 slave pen. This is the only known surviving slave pen, which was a building used to hold enslaved people before they were auctioned. The pen is a primary feature and constant reminder of the horror of slavery.

Other features in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center include exhibits of slavery and the civil war, films detailing the experiences and history of the underground railroad and an interactive exhibit that encourages young visitors to imagine the choices that were needed to escape slavery in the southern United States.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center encourages patrons to understand their past as well as their future. The museum has a genealogy center that encourages individuals to find family members who may have been a part of the Underground Railroad. A feature called "The Struggle Continues" reminds visitors that African Americans continue to face racial injustice to this day.

Visitors should plan to spend several hours at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in order to see and understand each of the displays. Even young children are affected by the importance of the Underground Railroad.

Why You Should Visit
- To learn about the history of the Underground Railroad
- To see the only known surviving slave jail
- To learn how to continue fighting for racial equality

Operation hours: Sunday-Monday noon to 5:00 p.m Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
5
Carew Tower Observation Deck

5) Carew Tower Observation Deck (must see)

Carew Tower is the second-tallest building in Cincinnati. Its observation deck is located on the 49th floor, which offers a panoramic view of northern Kentucky and downtown Cincinnati.

The tower itself was built in 1930. It was designed by architectural firm W.W. Ahlschlager & Associates in the Art Deco architectural style. The building was created to include a department store, theatre, hotel and office space. Today, it is home to 25 shops and restaurants, the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza and offices.

In order to reach the 49th floor, visitors must take two elevators and climb a flight of stairs. Tickets allow tourists to stay for as long as they like, though they must depart by closing hours. The observation deck is open from 9 AM through 5:30 PM Monday through Thursday, 9 AM through 6 PM each Friday and 10 AM through 7 PM on weekends.

A gift shop is available on the premises for anyone who wants to commemorate their trip to Carew Tower.
6
Fountain Square

6) Fountain Square (must see)

Fountain Square is considered to be the heart of Cincinnati. The city square was founded in 1871 in what was then the center of the city. The plaza is in the midst of downtown Cincinnati and is surrounded by shops, restaurants and hotels.

The defining feature of Fountain Square is the fountain itself. The Tyler Davidson Fountain, also known as The Genius of Water, is one of the most visited attractions in the city. It was a gift to the city from Henry Probasco in honor of his business partner and brother-in-law, Tyler Davidson.

The bronze-cast fountain is 43 feet tall. It features a nine-foot cast of a woman with her arms outstretched and four representations of the uses of water. An inscription on the fountain reads "To the People of Cincinnati."

Fountain Square is an easy walk from a number of other locations in Cincinnati. It is only minutes away by foot from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Smale Riverfront Park.
7
Washington Park

7) Washington Park

Washington Park is located east of the Cincinnati Music Hall, between Elm and Race streets. The park offers a playground with a castle and climbing wall, making it a good stop for tourists with young children.

Along with the standard slides and sandboxes, the park offers a splash pad that provides relief for children on hot days. There is also a dog park and a bandstand that hosts musical performances throughout the year.

One of the most noteworthy features of Washington Park is the American Classical Music Walk of Fame. Visitors to the park will see the names of Hall of Fame inductees engraved on pavement stones. The display has a dancing water fountain that plays along to classical music. Some of the inductees include Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Duke Ellington, Scott Joplin, John Williams and Beverly Sills.

Washington Park is open seven days per week from 6 AM through 11 PM.
8
Music Hall

8) Music Hall

Music Hall is Cincinnati's performance hall for classical arts. Music Hall is the venue for the Cincinnati Ballet, Symphony Orchestra, Opera and Pops Orchestra.

The building was completed in 1878. It was designed by Samuel Hannaford in the Victorian Gothic Revival Architectural Style. It is distinctive from other performance halls in that the building is actually three separate buildings: Music Hall and the North and South Exposition Buildings.

The buildings feature sandstone carvings, a pitched gable roof and a large rose window. Music Hall originally had intricately carved brickwork, but most of the details were destroyed during a renovation of the building.

Those who enjoy sites that are reputed to be haunted should pay particular interest to Music Hall. It is said to be one of the most haunted places in America due to the fact that it was built over a pauper's cemetery.

Music Hall was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975. It has also been placed on the list of America's 11 most endangered historic places.
9
Findlay Market

9) Findlay Market (must see)

Findlay Market is the oldest continually operated public market in the city. The original Findlay Market was founded in 1852. It was located on land owned by James and Jane Irwin Findlay. It has been named one of the top 10 public markets in the world by "Newsweek" magazine.

The market features full-time vendors who sell meat, fish, flowers, produce, cheese, bakery items, beverages and other food items. There are also vendors who sell artisan crafts like candles, home decor, soaps and pottery.

From March through December, a farmer's market opens at Findlay Market on weekends. Along with the regular vendors, the farmer's market features outdoor vendors and street performers.

Unlike many other public markets in the United States, Findlay market is open year-round. Visitors can shop from 10 AM to 4 PM on Sundays, from 8 AM to 6 PM on Saturdays and from 9 AM to 6 PM during weekdays. The market is closed on Mondays.

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