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Historic Church Architecture in the Midwest

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Look at Italian cities, their old buildings other than the monumental ones have a very similar look to Over the Rhine, it was meant to be inspired by Italian and Roman styles of architecture.

 

That is true. They were inspired by Italian buildings, but weren't by any means copies. I was in Italy for a few weeks last year. I could see some resemblance, but the average OTR residence is a lot more elaborate than the average Medieval Italian residence. Yes, the important Italian buildings (like the city's duomo) are far more elaborate than anything in OTR. The churches I walked through in Italy blew away anything I've ever seen in the USA.

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>The churches I walked through in Italy blew away anything I've ever seen in the USA.

 

That's generally the case all over Europe.  And  the evolution of European painting and sculpture is often more comprehensive in obscure small town churches than in the top US art museums since it took 500+ years to decorate every interior surface.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yeah, instead the banks and the government does the grafting.  All we have to show for it is a crippled economy and highways to nowhere. 

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"Americans should be happy that their dioceses haven't done enough grafting to erect the most wasteful, elitist and flamboyant structures on Earth like the cathedrals seen in Europe." - City Blights

 

I disagree. I do not go to church, nor do I believe. But I still think that churches are beautiful and if a church spends a lot of money on erecting/maintaining an ornate building, that still goes back into the local economy. Instead it seems people are giving the church money so they can use it for political reasons. I would much rather the money get spent creating beautiful buildings that make Cincinnati/US more interesting.

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It's indeed a catch-22...relatively few Europeans go to church, but they are surrounded by spectacular reminders of the era when they did, and the churches help attract tourism.  Meanwhile, the US has built virtually zero churches or public buildings that will be admired in the future since WWII. 

 

 

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Americans should be happy that their dioceses haven't done enough grafting to erect the most wasteful, elitist and flamboyant structures on Earth like the cathedrals seen in Europe.

 

Couldn't disagree more-  I'm an atheist, but the fact that 100-300 years ago gorgeous structures were built in europe that still stand to this day, are open to anyone and provide great history and culture to the neighborhoods they reside in is hardly a bad thing. 

 

 

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"Americans should be happy that their dioceses haven't done enough grafting to erect the most wasteful, elitist and flamboyant structures on Earth like the cathedrals seen in Europe." - City Blights

 

I disagree. I do not go to church, nor do I believe. But I still think that churches are beautiful and if a church spends a lot of money on erecting/maintaining an ornate building, that still goes back into the local economy. Instead it seems people are giving the church money so they can use it for political reasons. I would much rather the money get spent creating beautiful buildings that make Cincinnati/US more interesting.

 

At the end of the day, the elaborate, age-old religious structure is a reminder of an ignorant era when the poor shelled out their earnings for one structure that did not improve municipal services, create enlightenment or improve education, or enhance the economy to a level that the disenfranchised masses could feel.  Even in touristy villages and cities across Europe, having famous cathedrals doesn't narrow social gaps.  It's just a few more bucks for a town that's gonna spend the money everywhere but on their poor.

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Americans should be happy that their dioceses haven't done enough grafting to erect the most wasteful, elitist and flamboyant structures on Earth like the cathedrals seen in Europe.

 

Sure, the Vatican could have taken all the duomos in Italy apart piece by piece and sold the art to feed the poor, but then again, all that "elitist" art brings in the majority of the country's GDP (tourism), which in turn feeds everyone. It will continue to feed generation after generation.

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Americans should be happy that their dioceses haven't done enough grafting to erect the most wasteful, elitist and flamboyant structures on Earth like the cathedrals seen in Europe.

 

Sure, the Vatican could have taken all the duomos in Italy apart piece by piece and sold the art to feed the poor, but then again, all that "elitist" art brings in the majority of the country's GDP (tourism), which in turn feeds everyone. It will continue to feed generation after generation.

 

Please don't misquote me, I said the financing of many old religious structures proved to be wasteful for the community.  Having tourism doesn't feed the poor, ask Greece and Portugal who both rank close to the top in Western and Mediterranean Europe in both tourism and poverty.  Manufacturing goods isn't just a prop for an economy like tourism, it's a foundation.  It's why the Basque Country of Spain has been struggling so much since Spain's inception into the EU.  Spain relinquished much of its right to manufacturing to Germany, and a good chunk of that was centralized in the Basque.  European nations reliant on tourism and banking are bailouts waiting to happen.  A 600-year old cathedral never fed a community and never will.  It will, however, convince some that a true economy (exchange of goods, ideas, services) isn't necessary within a region, which is patently false.

 

The beauty of Cincinnati is, the ornate architecture surpasses most of what the world has to offer, and the entire city could become a tourist attraction based on the urban fabric, imagination, and 19th century appeal.  The 19th century in general was the height of craftsmanship for humankind, and Cincinnati of 2012 is fortunate that Cincinnati during the Age of Industrialization was one of the cities around the globe leading the way in its appreciation of detail.  Cincinnati is a global treasure that visually exceeds most European capitals.  It doesn't need once-mosques turned Medieval cathedrals.

 

 

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Financing for the grand cathedrals of Europe was far lest wasteful/harmful to the respective communities than, say, Paul Brown Stadium financing is to Cincinnati.

 

Plus, they got timeless, beautiful buildings that still stand today as the physical manifestation of over 1000 years of culture.  To say a cathedral like Chartres or Cologne was a waste and didn't do anything for the community is foolish. 

 

It's one thing to not have faith and not be religious, and it's another to have no grasp whatsoever on the importance of religion in a historical context.  Even the beautiful churches around Cincinnati and OTR did a lot for those who came here, built them, and needed them socially, morally, and culturally.

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Portugal is decidedly middle-of-the-pack in tourism in Europe:  http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/tourism/documents/TOURISM_INTENSITY.pdf

 

 

Well, Malta and Cyprus are both tiny islands, so that isn't surprising that they top the list.  However, I specified Portugal and Greece as being among the tops in tourism and poverty in Western/Mediterranean Europe.  Of the cities ahead of Portugal, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden are all part of Northern Europe, and Luxembourg is another extremely small country that isn't a great statistical comparison.  Out of 17 possible nations, not counting the extremely small ones:

 

1. Austria

2. Spain

3. Italy

4. Greece

5. The Netherlands

6. France

7. Portugal

8. Slovenia

9. Germany

10. Belgium

11. Croatia

 

The rest are unlisted.

 

Greece has the highest poverty rate, followed by Spain, then Portugal.  Those are three of the top 7 countries.

 

Poverty rankings among EU-15 member nations:

 

1. Greece

2. Spain

3. Portugal

4. Italy

5. Ireland

 

Of these nations, only Italy has a sizable manufacturing sector comparative to its size and necessity for a 21st century economy.  Massive corruption and public policy prohibitive to economic growth have hampered Italy since the '80s.

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The beauty of Cincinnati is, the ornate architecture surpasses most of what the world has to offer, and the entire city could become a tourist attraction based on the urban fabric, imagination, and 19th century appeal.  The 19th century in general was the height of craftsmanship for humankind, and Cincinnati of 2012 is fortunate that Cincinnati during the Age of Industrialization was one of the cities around the globe leading the way in its appreciation of detail.  Cincinnati is a global treasure that visually exceeds most European capitals.  It doesn't need once-mosques turned Medieval cathedrals.

 

You're joking, right? Have you actually been to London or Paris or Prague or Vienna? London invented the Age of Industrialization, and cities like Chicago were born of it (much to Cincinnati's detriment). Cincinnati is great compared to most American cities, but let's keep things in perspective. While Cincinnati has great historical fabric that should be preserved, restored, and celebrated, it's just one piece of the picture. People don't go to Cincinnati to re-live some fetishized vision of a mythical past; they go to Cincinnati because they feel like they can build a future there. Simply saying, "Look how awesome we used to be back in the 1800's!" isn't going to draw crowds of people to the city.

 

And your comment about "once-mosques turned Medieval cathedrals" belies an ignorance about history. Christianity was well-establsihed throughout the Roman Empire when Islam was just getting started, and I can't think of a single major European cathedral that began as a mosque. (There are several examples -- most notably the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul -- of former churches becoming mosques in areas that later converted to Islam, such as Spain and Turkey.) Regardless of theological implications, cathedrals were as much about civic pride as religion, and typically served as major centers for civic gatherings, events, and commerce. They were the concert venues, civic auditoriums, and convention centers of their age.

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The beauty of Cincinnati is, the ornate architecture surpasses most of what the world has to offer, and the entire city could become a tourist attraction based on the urban fabric, imagination, and 19th century appeal.  The 19th century in general was the height of craftsmanship for humankind, and Cincinnati of 2012 is fortunate that Cincinnati during the Age of Industrialization was one of the cities around the globe leading the way in its appreciation of detail.  Cincinnati is a global treasure that visually exceeds most European capitals.  It doesn't need once-mosques turned Medieval cathedrals.

 

You're joking, right? Have you actually been to London or Paris or Prague or Vienna? London invented the Age of Industrialization, and cities like Chicago were born of it (much to Cincinnati's detriment). Cincinnati is great compared to most American cities, but let's keep things in perspective. While Cincinnati has great historical fabric that should be preserved, restored, and celebrated, it's just one piece of the picture. People don't go to Cincinnati to re-live some fetishized vision of a mythical past; they go to Cincinnati because they feel like they can build a future there. Simply saying, "Look how awesome we used to be back in the 1800's!" isn't going to draw crowds of people to the city.

 

And your comment about "once-mosques turned Medieval cathedrals" belies an ignorance about history. Christianity was well-establsihed throughout the Roman Empire when Islam was just getting started, and I can't think of a single major European cathedral that began as a mosque. (There are several examples -- most notably the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul -- of former churches becoming mosques in areas that later converted to Islam, such as Spain and Turkey.) Regardless of theological implications, cathedrals were as much about civic pride as religion, and typically served as major centers for civic gatherings, events, and commerce. They were the Madison Square Gardens of their age.

 

I live in Europe and have been all over.  I stand by my comments.  You're also giving Europe a little too much credit for the evolution of the Industrial Revolution.  Ohio is a major, major contributor on its own, and if Ohio was its own country in 2012, it would be one of the most self-sufficient and wealthy nations on Earth.  Ohio makes things people need.

 

People visit towns and cities to experience the quaintness, the charm and the aura, not just to visit a religious structure.  Houston is the future, but most anyone who's been to both cities can remark about the historic fabric of Cincinnati and how much more attractive it is than any Texan metropolis.  Cincinnati's combination of geographic uniqueness and nearly unmatched charm is it's biggest selling point.  That's why OTR rotting for 50+ years is such a major American tragedy, in addition to the demolition of the West End, Kenyon-Barr, etc.

 

Your commentary on cathedrals is miles off.  Of course cathedrals existed before Islamic African invasions, that was never in question.  The fact remains that the Moors constructed quite a few mosques in Mediterranean Europe.  As each individual ex-kingdom within Portugal, Spain, France and Italy expelled the Moorish crown, most of them were converted into Christian homes of prayer, or demolished altogether.  On the exterior of some cathedrals, it's very obvious based on the styles exhibited as well as the difference in materials, not just because of era, but because of culture.

 

 

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Well,

 

Portugal is decidedly middle-of-the-pack in tourism in Europe:  http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/tourism/documents/TOURISM_INTENSITY.pdf

 

 

Well, Malta and Cyprus are both tiny islands, so that isn't surprising that they top the list.  However, I specified Portugal and Greece as being among the tops in tourism and poverty in Western/Mediterranean Europe.  Of the cities ahead of Portugal, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden are all part of Northern Europe, and Luxembourg is another extremely small country that isn't a great statistical comparison.  Out of 17 possible nations, not counting the extremely small ones:

 

1. Austria

2. Spain

3. Italy

4. Greece

5. The Netherlands

6. France

7. Portugal

8. Slovenia

9. Germany

10. Belgium

11. Croatia

 

The rest are unlisted.

 

Greece has the highest poverty rate, followed by Spain, then Portugal.  Those are three of the top 7 countries.

 

Poverty rankings among EU-15 member nations:

 

1. Greece

2. Spain

3. Portugal

4. Italy

5. Ireland

 

Of these nations, only Italy has a sizable manufacturing sector comparative to its size and necessity for a 21st century economy.  Massive corruption and public policy prohibitive to economic growth have hampered Italy since the '80s.

 

The tourism stats were done per capita to take into account the relative size of the places. 

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Without tourism many European countries would have a much smaller economy, and undoubted those people would be a lot worse off. So, although all that artwork might not have helped the peasants who paid for it centuries ago, it's undeniable that the artwork helps modern Europeans. (I have the credit card bills to prove it.)

 

At least we can agree that OTR is an important investment for Cincinnati.

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Most of Europe's tourists probably come from Europe, with most of that being northern Europeans (England, Germany, Sweden, Norway) visiting the Mediterranean countries. 

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I live in Europe and have been all over.  I stand by my comments.  You're also giving Europe a little too much credit for the evolution of the Industrial Revolution.  Ohio is a major, major contributor on its own, and if Ohio was its own country in 2012, it would be one of the most self-sufficient and wealthy nations on Earth.  Ohio makes things people need.

 

Well, you may have been all over and live in Europe, but your knowledge of basic Western history is completely off base. The Industrial Revolution was already well underway in the UK and Europe while Ohio's few scattered residents were still engaged in the trading of fur pelts, so try again on that one. Ohio's industrial base came into its own much later and lasted into the post-war years, but has severely declined since then, as it has almost anywhere that isn't named China or India. Cincinnati's industrial potential was severely undercut by changing transportation patterns in the wake of the Civil War and the emergence of Chicago as the shipping and railroad hub of the continent's inland.

 

As for the comparison of historical charm and geography between Cincinnati and most European cities: while Cincinnati has much to be proud of, it is no London or Paris. Anybody who claims otherwise is clearly so blinded by their civic boosterism that they've reached the point of becoming delusional. The comparison only becomes valid when discussing those European cities that were nearly obliterated during World War II, but saying "We look better than Dresden!" isn't much of a selling point. OTR's most apt comparisons would be certain neighborhoods on the east coast, such as Boston's North End, Manhattan's Lower East Side, Brooklyn Heights, and parts of Philadelphia. And there's no shame in that, as they're all beautiful neighborhoods and OTR has the potential to match them. But compared to Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, or any random neighborhood in central Paris? Please.

 

People visit towns and cities to experience the quaintness, the charm and the aura, not just to visit a religious structure.  Houston is the future, but most anyone who's been to both cities can remark about the historic fabric of Cincinnati and how much more attractive it is than any Texan metropolis.  Cincinnati's combination of geographic uniqueness and nearly unmatched charm is it's biggest selling point.  That's why OTR rotting for 50+ years is such a major American tragedy, in addition to the demolition of the West End, Kenyon-Barr, etc.

 

Your commentary on cathedrals is miles off.  Of course cathedrals existed before Islamic African invasions, that was never in question.  The fact remains that the Moors constructed quite a few mosques in Mediterranean Europe.  As each individual ex-kingdom within Portugal, Spain, France and Italy expelled the Moorish crown, most of them were converted into Christian homes of prayer, or demolished altogether.  On the exterior of some cathedrals, it's very obvious based on the styles exhibited as well as the difference in materials, not just because of era, but because of culture.

 

How many people would've even heard of the French town of Chartres without its cathedral, or the English town of Salisbury, or the German town of Cologne? In larger European capitals, cathedrals like St. Paul's in London, Notre Dame in Paris, and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome serve as icons of the city and are among the top attractions. Even in American cities such as New York, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are huge tourist destinations. (And I'm speaking from personal experience here, as I was co-chair of the acolyte guild at St. John the Divine for the better part of four years.) Nobody is saying you have to agree with the theology being preached inside, but one cannot deny the cathedrals' historical roles as the center of civic life and as major pilgrimage and tourist destinations, even as Europe has become more secular. When most of these cathedrals were built, there was no distinction between religious life and civic life, and the cathedrals were the hubs of both.

 

(And for every church in Europe that began as a mosque, there at least an equal number of former churches that are now mosques. And most of Europe was never Islamic, so the vast majority of churches in Europe have always been Christian. But the particular flavor of religion being practiced inside the building is irrelevant to the purpose of this discussion.)

 

Does this mean ornate churches will bring flocks of tourists to OTR? No, because Cincinnati has nothing that even comes close to the scale and history of a major European cathedral, and never will. And that's fine, as Cincinnati has plenty of other attractions. That said, if a congregation such as, say, Christ Church Cathedral on Fourth Street decided to build an iconic new church building in OTR and use it in a way that truly engages the public, I'd be all in favor of it. The new Roman Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles, designed by Rafael Moneo, proves that well-designed modern church buildings can be major centers of civic life and draw lots of visitors.

 

As for Houston: While Houston will never win any awards for beauty, the fact remains that Houston is growing and Cincinnati is shrinking. This illustrates the point I was making in the first place, that it takes more than historical charm to make a city attractive to tourists and newcomers. Otherwise people would be flocking to places like Detroit and Buffalo while Miami and Honolulu sit empty.

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I live in Europe and have been all over.  I stand by my comments.  You're also giving Europe a little too much credit for the evolution of the Industrial Revolution.  Ohio is a major, major contributor on its own, and if Ohio was its own country in 2012, it would be one of the most self-sufficient and wealthy nations on Earth.  Ohio makes things people need.

 

Well, you may have been all over and live in Europe, but your knowledge of basic Western history is completely off base. The Industrial Revolution was already well underway in the UK and Europe while Ohio's few scattered residents were still engaged in the trading of fur pelts, so try again on that one. Ohio's industrial base came into its own much later and lasted into the post-war years, but has severely declined since then, as it has almost anywhere that isn't named China or India. Cincinnati's industrial potential was severely undercut by changing transportation patterns in the wake of the Civil War and the emergence of Chicago as the shipping and railroad hub of the continent's inland.

 

As for the comparison of historical charm and geography between Cincinnati and most European cities: while Cincinnati has much to be proud of, it is no London or Paris. Anybody who claims otherwise is clearly so blinded by their civic boosterism that they've reached the point of becoming delusional. The comparison only becomes valid when discussing those European cities that were nearly obliterated during World War II, but saying "We look better than Dresden!" isn't much of a selling point. OTR's most apt comparisons would be certain neighborhoods on the east coast, such as Boston's North End, Manhattan's Lower East Side, Brooklyn Heights, and parts of Philadelphia. And there's no shame in that, as they're all beautiful neighborhoods and OTR has the potential to match them. But compared to Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, or any random neighborhood in central Paris? Please.

 

People visit towns and cities to experience the quaintness, the charm and the aura, not just to visit a religious structure.  Houston is the future, but most anyone who's been to both cities can remark about the historic fabric of Cincinnati and how much more attractive it is than any Texan metropolis.  Cincinnati's combination of geographic uniqueness and nearly unmatched charm is it's biggest selling point.  That's why OTR rotting for 50+ years is such a major American tragedy, in addition to the demolition of the West End, Kenyon-Barr, etc.

 

Your commentary on cathedrals is miles off.  Of course cathedrals existed before Islamic African invasions, that was never in question.  The fact remains that the Moors constructed quite a few mosques in Mediterranean Europe.  As each individual ex-kingdom within Portugal, Spain, France and Italy expelled the Moorish crown, most of them were converted into Christian homes of prayer, or demolished altogether.  On the exterior of some cathedrals, it's very obvious based on the styles exhibited as well as the difference in materials, not just because of era, but because of culture.

 

How many people would've even heard of the French town of Chartres without its cathedral, or the English town of Salisbury, or the German town of Cologne? In larger European capitals, cathedrals like St. Paul's in London, Notre Dame in Paris, and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome serve as icons of the city and are among the top attractions. Even in American cities such as New York, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are huge tourist destinations. (And I'm speaking from personal experience here, as I was co-chair of the acolyte guild at St. John the Divine for the better part of four years.) Nobody is saying you have to agree with the theology being preached inside, but one cannot deny the cathedrals' historical roles as the center of civic life and as major pilgrimage and tourist destinations, even as Europe has become more secular. When most of these cathedrals were built, there was no distinction between religious life and civic life, and the cathedrals were the hubs of both.

 

(And for every church in Europe that began as a mosque, there at least an equal number of former churches that are now mosques. And most of Europe was never Islamic, so the vast majority of churches in Europe have always been Christian. But the particular flavor of religion being practiced inside the building is irrelevant to the purpose of this discussion.)

 

Does this mean ornate churches will bring flocks of tourists to OTR? No, because Cincinnati has nothing that even comes close to the scale and history of a major European cathedral, and never will. And that's fine, as Cincinnati has plenty of other attractions. That said, if a congregation such as, say, Christ Church Cathedral on Fourth Street decided to build an iconic new church building in OTR and use it in a way that truly engages the public, I'd be all in favor of it. The new Roman Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles, designed by Rafael Moneo, proves that well-designed modern church buildings can be major centers of civic life and draw lots of visitors.

 

As for Houston: While Houston will never win any awards for beauty, the fact remains that Houston is growing and Cincinnati is shrinking. This illustrates the point I was making in the first place, that it takes more than historical charm to make a city attractive to tourists and newcomers. Otherwise people would be flocking to places like Detroit and Buffalo while Miami and Honolulu sit empty.

 

Such an abrasive post, there.  I have to tell you, you started it off wrong though.  I'm not one to be challenged concerning history, so you might have to tuck your tail and run while you can.

 

You made so many points that weren't relevant to anything I said.  You also contradicted several of your own points.  For example, weren't you just campaigning that religious structures are fantastic for an economy?  Then why all of a sudden are you willing to talk about Houston having a true economy and Cincinnati shrinking because its economy isn't what it needs to be, despite having a number of old religious structures with a lot of historical significance?  Then you make the jump to constructing new, outlandish cathedrals for the purpose of making money in the future.  Where are you going with all of this, financially and morally?  That's why we build churches?  To make money?  That would support the point I've been making the whole time, which is that many major cathedrals were wasteful at the expense of the commoner.

 

You have to understand, the Industrial Revolution carries itself all the way through the first half of the 20th century before the Age of Technology fully transitions itself as the more relevant movement.  Ohio had already been a global center of petroleum trading, heavy manufacturing, and outright innovation.  I'll let you do the research and find out just what Ohio contributed throughout this time period.  I'm not the one who needs lessons in history, that's you.

 

I don't even live in Cincinnati and I'm being accused of being biased.  I live in Europe and love it.  Why wouldn't I be biased for the purposes of boosting European culture?

 

There are tons of villages and small cities in Europe that are famous for a religious structure that drown in poverty because that structure is all the town has.  It's an everlasting reminder of how poorly resources were spent in the past and how time has passed that region by.  Your love affair with tourist impact is very peculiar considering how you just praised Houston for not being touristy but growing nonetheless. 

 

London is charming in some ways, and Paris is beautiful, but the rustic character of Cincinnati buildings are also special and should be noticed.  Read historical record from Reconstruction through Cincinnati's Golden Age, you'll find that Cinti was compared to London a number of times in regard to charm, beauty and sophistication.  I have a right to believe that my eyes do not lie to me.  I've seen many famous cities, and Cincinnati was among the most beautiful.  You don't have to believe it, just don't call me a liar because I do.  The sun is a rarity in London and the brick isn't nearly as pretty.  Neither is the street layout or the scale in many areas.  You're not seeing the whole picture because you're absorbed into tourist worship.

 

 

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Well, you may have been all over and live in Europe, but your knowledge of basic Western history is completely off base.

 

As for the comparison of historical charm and geography between Cincinnati and most European cities: while Cincinnati has much to be proud of, it is no London or Paris. Anybody who claims otherwise is clearly so blinded by their civic boosterism that they've reached the point of becoming delusional.

Your commentary on cathedrals is miles off.

 

Such an abrasive post, there.  I have to tell you, you started it off wrong though.  I'm not one to be challenged concerning history, so you might have to tuck your tail and run while you can.

 

*prepares popcorn*

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I lived in Europe for a few years, and I agree with City Blights. Cincinnati compares favorably to the beautiful capitals there, aesthetically. I find Paris architecturally boring. I admit I haven't been to London. But we don't have to agree on London and Paris, as there are many other capital cities.

 

Ohio didn't have to be part of the beginning of the manufacturing age in order to be born of it. In fact, if it had existed first, it would be less an artifact of the era. I agree wholeheartedly that Cincinnati boomed in the absolute sweetest spot for architectural style. Ornate but not wedding cake-y. Charming and pretty but rugged. "Royal" but democratic - unlike cathedrals.

 

Paris is too understated, with repetitive and boring pastel stucco. Prague is too overstated, every facade a wedding cake. Cincinnati is Queen Goldilocks. Then there's this thing called topography...

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Great thread! It's convinced me to cancel my trip to Europe this summer and book a room at the Ramada in Cincinnati. It definitely beats Paris, since it has ample parking and is across the street from a White Castle.

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Paris has varied architecture more than just the simple Haussmann schtick most Americans are familiar with.  Le Marais, for example, has endless examples of architecture including Italianate and Victorian.  It's akin to saying New York is all brownstones or Baltimore is all front-flat rowhouses.  For example, much of outer-ring city of Paris is this:

 

Paris111_1200_copyright.jpg

 

If that is architecturally boring, so is Roma, Munich, Madrid, Milano, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Barcelona, etc.  Perhaps Wein, Prague, and London have the most varied in architecture in the EU but those are clear exceptions, much like how Washington would stand out in this country.

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I never said the reason churches were built was specifically to generate revenue; I simply said that European cathedrals have historically served as important nodes of culture and civic activity in addition to their religious functions. The fact that you'd even try to debate this well-documented historical fact boggles my mind.

 

I never said that churches alone would bring people to Cincinnati. I merely said that if some private entity wanted to build an iconic new church building at their own expense and have it serve as a community hub, I wouldn't have any objections to it. Depending on who was building it, I might even be willing to donate a few dollars to help make it happen.

 

And I never said that tourism is the end-all and be-all of a city (I agree with your earlier points on that topic). As anybody who lives in Orlando can tell you, the biggest tourist destinations are often terrible places to live, and I'd much rather see Cincinnati focus on its economy and livability than turn the city into some kind of "Ye Olde Zinzinnati" theme park for fat tourists and conventioneers. However, if tourists happen to enjoy Cincinnati, and part of the reason for that enjoyment includes Cincinnati's historic churches, then so be it. My only point was that there is ample historical precedent for that in Europe and in other American cities.

 

As for Houston, it was you who first brought Houston into the conversation, despite nobody else even mentioning it. I merely pointed out that Houston is growing and Cincinnati is shrinking, which, again, is a well-documented fact. The reasons behind this fact are complicated and it doesn't mean that Cincinnati should try to emulate Houston (except in the building of a light rail system), but my larger point stands that fetishizing Cincinnati's quaint historical charm isn't a sufficient strategy for growth.

 

Topography and a scenic natural setting? Yes, Cincinnati has it. So do Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Rio De Janeiro, Honolulu, Hong Kong, and countless other cities. Cincinnati's topography is great compared to most other inland American cities, but it's hardly noteworthy among cities throughout the rest of the world. Again, let's keep things in perspective.

 

As for the Cincinnati vs. London comparison, here is a photo I took of a typical street in Cincinnati:

 

4973_122169865475_1459125_n.jpg

 

And here is a photo I took of a typical street in London:

 

315903_10150362506070476_71190926_n.jpg

 

Any questions?

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^^ Beats the pants off Hartwell, that's for sure. Outer-ring counts, but much less than center city.

 

^ Bury the utilities, fix the paving, maybe fill in a couple missing teeth, Cincy wins hands down.

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Cities like London and Paris are in a completely different league than Cincinnati, so it's pointless to compare them. That isn't to say if some European capital is doing something particularly innovative in terms of transit or urban planning, Cincinnati shouldn't look to that as an example to follow. But Cincinnati doesn't need to be a London or Paris, and that's fine. I wouldn't want London rents and commute times in Cincinnati anyway. While I absolutely love London and have even considered relocating there at various times, there are still quite a few reasons I would prefer Cincinnati even if distance and cost of living weren't issues.

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The grid formation the streets take on, e.g. Vine and Main running north-south and the numbered streets going east-west. Most American cities are built on a grid. Cincinnati's Downtown streets are, but for obvious reasons that stops as you ascend the hills out of the basin.

 

Grids leave the horizon sort of empty, making cities less visually interesting. If a street curves or comes to a T with a cross street (say at a landmark building), some very stunning views can be made by filing in that void. One special thing about Cincinnati's grid is that it often does create a vista where there is a straight shot to a hillside. This is especially true looking toward the northern end of OTR.

 

All that said, navigating a city with no appreciable grid can be very difficult (I believe Sydney has a lot of dead ends and irregularities in its street pattern, for a newish city example). There is a trade off, but also there are traffic calming benefits, making for a lot of effective side streets.

 

Here's Walnut Hills, for example:

 

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=cincinnati&hl=en&ll=39.128329,-84.477654&spn=0.028996,0.066047&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=59.639182,135.263672&hnear=Cincinnati,+Hamilton,+Ohio&t=m&z=15&layer=c&cbll=39.128141,-84.477824&panoid=DDFNI8lj7Q4uUgqGv9dTcw&cbp=12,41.47,,0,-8.23

http://goo.gl/maps/FWYX

 

See how a grid can take away these opportunities?

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I think a grid with occassional irregularities is the best. They are easy to navigate, but the irregular streets provide for interesting break in the monotany. The Flatiron building along Broadway in Manhattan is a perfect example.

 

flatiron-building-2.jpg

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This topic was created ad hoc by a mod, anyway, to accommodate a conversation which was off topic to the thread it started in. IMO it's not fair to call anything continuing from that conversation off topic. More likely the thread title is off topic!

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