Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is surging back from disrepair, becoming the poster-child for Porkopolis’ return to progressive urbanism. After two years of construction, the historic neighborhood’s Washington Park reopened to the public Friday.
The $48-million renovation is the latest investment by Cincinnati in its urban character—much was made of Washington Park’s likelihood to attract and sustain investment nearby. A number of amenities were added, including a children’s playground, a dog park, a fountain, an event plaza and a stage for live performances.
Some historic elements of the 1855 park remain, including a replica of a Civil War-era cannon. But the thrust of the project was reinvention. Once 6 acres, Washington Park is now 8 acres and boasts a new playground as well as a 450-space subterranean parking garage. Part of the original park was a cemetery; the renovation team had to move 53 bodies still buried underneath to put in the underground parking structure.
Public transport, walkability, and green space are part and parcel with an economically vibrant urban core. Along with Fountain Square and the Smale Riverfront, the reopening of Washington Park could be a milestone in the redevelopment of Cincinnati’s urban identity.