Cincinnati, a city on the bank of the Ohio River, is a treasure trove of historical sites and unique landmarks. Known as the Queen City of the West due to its location on the precipice of western expansion, the city has been an important landmark in and of itself. It was a continuously cultivated home for the Shawnee tribe, a beacon of hope for enslaved peoples looking to find freedom north of the Ohio River during the Civil War, and the last glimpse of civilisation for many pioneers headed west.
Named after the citizen-soldier of Rome, Cincinnatus, Cincinnati was originally known as Losantiville before Governor Arthur St. Clair changed its name in 1790. At one time, Cincinnati was the most densely populated city in the United States but is now the third-largest metropolitan area in Ohio, with a population of over 302,000 people.
Today, Cincinnati is a modern metropolis well known for its professional sports teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds, and local food like Skyline Chili and LaRosa’s. Home to dozens of craft breweries and boutique restaurants, it has enjoyed a prosperous era of expansion and modernisation in the last 10 years and is now one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest. These 20 landmarks in Cincinnati are sure to inspire a trip to The Queen City.
- Cincinnati Landmarks
- 20 Landmarks in Cincinnati
- 1- Tyler Davidson Fountain
- 2- Carew Tower
- 3- Union Terminal (Cincinnati Museum Center)
- 4- John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
- 5- Great American Ballpark
- 6- Paul Brown Stadium
- 7- Music Hall
- 8- Purple People Bridge
- 9- Cincinnati Observatory
- 10- Capitoline Wolf Statue
- 11- Findlay Market
- 12- Washington Park
- 13- Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
- 14- Krohn Conservatory
- 15- Cincinnati Art Museum
- 16- Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
- 17- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
- 18- Isaac M. Wise Temple
- 19- Taft Museum Center
- 20- Spring Grove Cemetery
- 20 Landmarks in Cincinnati
20 Landmarks in Cincinnati
1- Tyler Davidson Fountain
The Tyler Davidson Fountain, also known as The Genius of Water, is the most iconic landmark in Cincinnati.
Its location in the very centre of downtown, also known as Fountain Square, drives home its title as the city’s centrepiece.
Created by architect Ferdinand von Miller in 1871, The Genius of Water is a symbol for Cincinnatians of the natural water source that runs through the city.
No trip to Cincinnati is complete without a visit to Fountain Square to see this masterpiece of bronze sculpture.
To this day, it is a lively area dedicated to bringing the city’s inhabitants together through festivals, watch parties, an ice skating rink in the winter months and community events like “Salsa on the Square”.
Fountain Square is at 520 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
2- Carew Tower
Perhaps the most famous building in Cincinnati is Carew Tower.
Once the tallest structure in Cincinnati, Carew Tower was finished in 1930 by architects Walter W. Ahlschlager and James W. McLaughlin.
It’s an exquisite example of Art Deco architecture and is also home to the Netherland Plaza Hotel, another famous representation of Art Deco.
The hotel and tower are registered National Historic Landmarks.
Don’t miss the Palm Court for a drink and a peek at the Rookwood Pottery fountain.
The Carew Tower Observation Deck is an integral part of any visit to Cincinnati, as you can see the entire city stretching out between its seven hills.
The elevator to reach the top is an adventure in itself! General admission is $6 and $3 for children under 3.
Carew Tower is at 41 W 5th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
3- Union Terminal (Cincinnati Museum Center)
Completed in 1933, Union Terminal was the original train depot for Cincinnati residents before becoming the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Now home to three museums and the Omnimax Theater, Union Terminal combines historical significance and modern attraction.
It’s home to the Western Hemisphere’s largest half-dome and is an awe-inspiring example of Art Deco architecture.
The famous Winold Reiss mural, displayed on the back of the rotunda, depicts a historic timeline of US history and the modernisation of Cincinnati.
The artist included several local people in his mural, from his brother to a train conductor.
Passenger services went on a 19-year hiatus before resuming operations in 1991 with Amtrak.
Now Union Terminal is the only active train station in Cincinnati, continuing to fulfil its original purpose.
Aside from the museums and view of the rotunda, be sure to make your way up to the train observation deck, also known as Tower A, at the back of the building.
This was the original control deck for the (still active) railyard.
Amtrak trains leave from Union Terminal to this day. Another secret feature of Union Terminal is The Whispering Fountains, located at either end of the rotunda.
Have two group members run to either side to communicate by whispering into the fountain.
The Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor, entirely made from Rookwood tile, is a great place to grab a scoop of Cincinnati’s famous Graeter’s ice cream before exploring the rest of the city.
Tickets to the Museum Center are $16.50 for adults and $12.50 for seniors and children under 12. This gives you access to the Natural History Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, and Children’s Museum. Tickets to the Omnimax are $9.50 for adults and $7.50 for seniors and children. Do note that Union Terminal is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Union Terminal is at 1301 Western Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45203.
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4- John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
Built by famous architect John A. Roebling in 1881, it is said that the bridge was the model for the Brooklyn Bridge.
When it was first completed, the bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the United States.
The bridge risked defunding multiple times and almost wasn’t completed but was saved by the Civil War when Cincinnati was at risk of being sieged by Confederate Troops.
It was also famously supposed to be a connector for the Cincinnati metro system, the nation’s largest abandoned subway.
Today Cincinnati residents enjoy walking across the bridge to the neighbourhood of Covington and for unspoiled views of the Ohio River.
5- Great American Ballpark
If there’s one thing that most Cincinnatians can agree on, it’s their love of baseball.
The Cincinnati Reds were the USA’s first professional baseball team and were originally known as the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
Great American Ballpark replaced the former Cinergy Field on 31 March 2003.
It has a gorgeous view overlooking the Ohio River and is a great place to try local Cincinnati favourites like Skyline Chilli, LaRosa’s Pizza, Graeter’s ice cream and local craft beer, all under one roof.
If you’re lucky, a home run will earn you fireworks streaming out of the smokestacks, modelled after the historic steamboat American Queen.
Great American Ballpark is at 100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
6- Paul Brown Stadium
Home to the now-famous Cincinnati Bengals football team, Paul Brown Stadium replaced the original Cinergy Stadium (shared by both the Bengals and Reds) in 2000.
The open-air stadium offers beautiful views of the Ohio River and shares The Banks neighbourhood with Great American Ballpark.
Its location adjacent to the Reds stadium has created the perfect opportunity for the new DORA zone, a designated area where patrons can bar hop and enjoy festivities in the street that connects the stadiums.
Football season begins in late September. Don your orange and black gear and head to the parking lot just under the stadium for the best tailgate in the city!
Paul Brown Stadium is at 1 Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
7- Music Hall
Cincinnati’s Music Hall is one of the last great examples of Gothic Revival architecture, designed by Samuel Hannaford in 1878.
Several presidents were known to have attended events at Music Hall, including Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant.
These days, Music Hall is home to the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the Cincinnati Ballet, and the Cincinnati Opera, among others.
The reputation of hauntings at Music Hall goes as far back as 1875, when a local newspaper reported ghostly encounters in the area.
Music Hall was built on the burial site of members from a horrific steamboat accident as well as a pauper’s graveyard and the original site of Ohio’s first insane asylum.
Music Hall is at 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
8- Purple People Bridge
Cincinnati has 24 bridges, but perhaps the most iconic is what is fondly referred to as the Purple People Bridge, connecting downtown Cincinnati to Newport, KY.
The Newport Southbank Bridge is also known as the Purple People Bridge and is an iconic part of Cincinnati’s landscape.
Originally built in 1872 for railroad passage, the bridge had several purposes before becoming a pedestrian walkway in 2001.
Sawyer Point Park surrounds the Ohio side of the bridge, while the Kentucky side is home to Newport on the Levee, a popular area for riverfront dining and the Newport Aquarium.
The purple paint has faded over the years, but its lavender hue still marks this pedestrian bridge.
9- Cincinnati Observatory
Cincinnati Observatory was founded in 1843 by Ormsby McKnight Mitchel after he went door to door collecting $25 from local Cincinnati families to fund the Observatory’s telescope.
President John Adams inaugurated the telescope and it was the last speech he ever gave, resulting in the city renaming the hill on which it was built as Mt. Adams.
The lens for the telescope itself was made in Germany, and the final product was shipped from New Orleans along the Mississippi River onto the Ohio River before making it to the telescope’s resting place in Cincinnati.
The original telescope is still in use today, and observers can peer through its lens to view everything from galaxies to shooting stars.
Tickets vary depending on which program or event you want to attend, as well as at which time.
Make sure to go to their website at cincinnatiobservatory.org to see which programs they’re offering.
The Cincinnati Observatory is at 3489 Observatory Place, Cincinnati, OH 45208.
10- Capitoline Wolf Statue
Controversially gifted to the city by Rome during the Mussolini era, the Capitoline Wolf Statue is a representation of the city’s namesake, the Roman statesman Cincinnatus.
Cast entirely in bronze, the statue is a replica of the Lupa Capitolina statue in Rome, depicting the twins Romulus and Remus suckling the she-wolf that raised them.
The Capitoline Wolf Statue is at 950 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
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11- Findlay Market
Findlay Market is the longest-running public market in Ohio and has been operating since 1852.
Originally serving the Over-the-Rhine neighbourhood, it is a fantastic place to try cuisine from all over the world and to shop for local handmade products.
Local farmers flock to the market on weekends during the warmer months to sell organic produce and flowers, while food stalls inside the building sling everything from Belgian waffles to seafood.
Several small shops line the streets surrounding Findlay Market, like Cincinnati’s famous Eli’s BBQ and The Arepa Place, a new Colombia restaurant.
Be sure to hop across the road to The Rhined, a local cheesemonger with the best charcuterie boards in town.
Findlay Market is at 1801 Race St, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
12- Washington Park
Washington Park comes alive in the warmer months with live music, exercise classes, and a splash pad for children.
Its proximity to Music Hall and location in the OTR neighbourhood make it a great place for a picnic on the lawn.
At the time of the Prohibition and during the Great Depression, the neighbourhood fell into disrepair as many people moved to the suburbs.
Renovations began in 2008, and the area reopened in 2012.
Washington Park is at 1230 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
13- Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
Look familiar? The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption was inspired by none other than the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.
Perhaps its most notable feature is the stained glass window, said to be the largest handmade stained glass window in the world.
The window shows Mary’s Coronation after her Assumption.
The cathedral also showcases several elements of Gothic architecture, including a rose window and flying buttresses.
Located in the Covington neighbourhood of Cincinnati, this would be a great addition to a visit to the local bakery, North-South Baking Company or the Mainstrasse Village.
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption is at 1140 Madison Ave, Covington, KY 41011.
14- Krohn Conservatory
The Krohn Conservatory, a behemoth Art Deco greenhouse located in Cincinnati’s Eden Park, has welcomed locals since 1933.
It is home to a rare orchid collection, bonsai trees, and a tropical house that showcases a cacao tree.
The Conservatory is particularly enjoyable during winter as it’s usually a balmy 80F (27C) degrees inside.
The Conservatory holds a Butterfly Show for Mother’s Day, a Cincinnati favourite every May.
Live butterflies from various corners of the globe flutter around the Conservatory, creating a dreamlike illusion.
The Krohn Conservatory is at 1501 Eden Park Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
15- Cincinnati Art Museum
Located atop one of Cincinnati’s seven hills, the Cincinnati Art Museum has been a staple of Cincinnati society since its induction in 1886.
The museum was the first important museum to be built in what was considered “the West” at the time, far from the more sophisticated towns of Philadelphia and New York.
Today the museum houses collections that date back as far as 6,000 years ago.
It is home to works from some of the last century’s most famous artists, including Renoir, Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is free to enter at 953 Eden Park Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
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16- Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Named “Best Zoo in America” in 2021 by 10Best, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is the second oldest zoo in the United States.
The oldest structure in the zoo is the Reptile House which was standing at the zoo’s grand opening in 1875.
Its original guide was written in German as German immigrants heavily populated the city.
Probably the most famous modern feature of the Cincinnati Zoo is Fiona the hippo, who became a national hero after Americans watched her fight for her life after being born prematurely.
During the winter months, The Festival of Lights is held at the zoo drawing in millions of spectators and lighting the city with over four million LED lights.
Admission to the zoo varies between $15 to $24 for adults and $9 to $18 depending on the day you choose. Parking is $10.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is at 3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45220.
17- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a significant feature in the Cincinnati landscape.
Its location on the Ohio River is of great significance as this was the line between slavery and freedom during the Civil War.
Even today, it is a beacon of hope and stark remembrance of a dark time in United States history.
Dedicated in 2004, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has exhibits detailing the history of slavery, including artifacts like the slave pen, brought to the museum from a farm in Kentucky and reassembled on site.
Tickets start at $15 for adults and $10.50 for children ages 3 to 12.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is at 50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
18- Isaac M. Wise Temple
Named after Isaac M. Wise, founder of American Reform Judaism and popular rabbi during the mid-1800s, the Isaac M. Wise Temple was the first temple of its size in the Cincinnati area.
Elements of the temple were designed after The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, taking inspiration from the Jewish architectural influence during Spain’s Golden Age.
It’s one of the USA’s oldest synagogues.
Isaac M. Wise Temple is at 720 Plum Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
19- Taft Museum Center
The Taft Museum Center is an institution of fine art located in downtown Cincinnati. Perhaps the most famous work of art housed here is the Portrait of Mr Taft by Joaquin Sorolla, an oil painting of President Henry Taft, who was born in Cincinnati.
The building itself was a residential house built in 1820.
Several prominent Cincinnatians have called it home through its lifetime, including Nicholas Longworth, but most importantly the Tafts.
Many Cincinnati establishments are named after the Taft family, including the Taft Ale House, whose emblem is a likeness of Henry Taft in his famous bathtub.
General admission to the Taft Museum Center is $18 per person.
Taft Museum Center is at 316 Pike St, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
20- Spring Grove Cemetery
Spring Grove Cemetery is a US National Historic Landmark near the St. Bernard neighbourhood of Cincinnati and a lovely place to walk, and admire nature and the resting place for over 40 Civil War generals.
Local historians lead daily tours of the grounds, but it’s also possible to do a self-guided tour through the established trees and gardens in this 733-acre (296 ha) plot of land.
Several famous Cincinnatians are buried here, including Nicholas Longworth and one famous actor, George Reeves, who played Superman from 1952 to 1958.
Be sure to look for the Dexter Memorial and the Weeping Statue.
Spring Grove Cemetery is at 4521 Spring Grove Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45232.
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