History of Cincinnati
Cincinnati began as three settlements between the Little Miami and Great Miami rivers on the north shore of the Ohio River in 1788.
In 1789 Fort Washington was built to protect the settlements in the Northwest Territory and named for President George Washington.
In 1790, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, changed the name of the settlement to “Cincinnati” in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, of which he was president. The society gets its name from Cincinnatus, the Roman general and dictator, who saved the city of Rome from destruction and then quietly retired to his farm. To this day, Cincinnati in particular, and Ohio in general, is home to a disproportionately large number of descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers who were granted lands in the state. Cincinnati’s connection with Rome still exists today through its nickname of “The City of Seven Hills”.
In 1802, Cincinnati was chartered as a village, and in 1819, it was incorporated as a city. The introduction of steam navigation on the Ohio River in 1811 and the completion of the Miami and Erie Canal helped the city grow to 115,000 citizens by 1850. The nickname Porkopolis was coined around 1835, when Cincinnati was the country’s chief hog packing center, and herds of pigs traveled the streets. Called the “Queen of the West”, Cincinnati was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape from the South.
Cincinnati was the site of many historical beginnings. In 1850 it was the first city in the United States to establish a Jewish Hospital. It is where America’s first municipal fire department, the Cincinnati Fire Department, was established in 1853. Established in 1867, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (a.k.a. the Cincinnati Reds) became the world’s first professional (all paid, no amateurs) baseball team in 1869. In 1935, major league baseball’s first night game was played at Crosley Field. Cincinnati was the first municipality to build and own a major railroad in 1880. In 1902, the world’s first re-inforced concrete skyscraper was built, the Ingalls Building.
Cincinnati accompanied its growth by paying men to act as its fire department in 1853, making the first full-time paid fire department in the United States. It was the first in the world to use steam fire engines.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings, a baseball team whose name and heritage inspired today’s Cincinnati Reds, began their career in the 19th century as well. In 1868, meetings were held at the law offices of Tilden, Sherman, and Moulton to make Cincinnati’s baseball team a professional one; it became the first regular professional team in the country in 1869. In its first year, the team won 57 games and tied one, giving it the best winning record of any professional baseball team in history.
Cincinnati was an important stop for the Underground Railroad in pre-Civil War times. It bordered a slave state, Kentucky, and is often mentioned as a destination for many people escaping the bonds of slavery.
Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1824 as the first Black church in Ohio. It was an important stop on the Underground Railroad for many years. It seeded many other congregations in the city, across the state, and throughout the Midwest.
During the American Civil War, Cincinnati played a key role as a major source of supplies and troops for the Union Army. It also served as the headquarters for much of the war for the Department of the Ohio, which was charged with the defense of the region, as well as directing the army’s offensive into Kentucky and Tennessee. Due to Cincinnati’s commerce with slave states and history of settlement by southerners from eastern states, many people in the area were “Southern sympathizers”.
In 1879, Procter & Gamble, one of Cincinnati’s major soap manufacturers, began marketing Ivory Soap. It was marketed as “light enough to float.” After a fire at the first factory, Procter & Gamble moved to a new factory on the Mill Creek.
Additionally, Cincinnati was the largest manufacturer of carriages in the world. Around the turn of the century, Cincinnati manufactured approximately 140,000 four wheeled vehicles annually.
In 1888, Cincinnati German Protestants community started a “sick house” (“Krankenhaus”) staffed by deaconesses. It evolved into the city’s first general hospital, and included nurses’ training school. It was renamed Deaconess Hospital in 1917.
“The Sons of Daniel Boone”, a forerunner to the Boy Scouts of America, began in Cincinnati in 1905. Because of the city’s rich German heritage, the pre-prohibition era allowed Cincinnati to become a national forerunner in the brewing industry.
After World War II, Cincinnati unveiled a master plan for urban renewal that resulted in modernization of the inner city. Like other older industrial cities, Cincinnati suffered from economic restructuring and loss of jobs following deindustrialization in the mid-century.
The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County are currently developing the Banks – an urban neighborhood along the city’s riverfront including restaurants, clubs, offices, and homes with skyline views.
In 1976, the Cincinnati Stock Exchange became the nation’s first all-electronic trading market.
On December 3, 1979 11 persons were killed in a crowd crush at the entrance of Riverfront Coliseum for a rock concert by the British band The Who.
Today, there are 2,400,000 in the metropolitan area and 298,800 in the Cincinnati proper. There were over 330,000 people in the year 2000.
Next time you’re walking around Cincinnati, OH, take a tour with the Historic Walking Tour app!