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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Abandonments of Over-the-Rhine

When one talks about urban decay, blight, exploration or endangered architecture in Cincinnati it is impossible to ignore the neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine. Like many urban places in cities all across America, Over-the-Rhine is plagued with a combination of problems and misconceptions.

Over-the-Rhine rooftop view

Through a series of photos I hope to show not only how endangered some of the architecture in Over-the-Rhine is, but also the potential that exists. For several reasons I will withhold some of the locations that are in decay, but links will be provided to the recent renovations. Many of the preserved and renovated residential spaces shown here are currently for sale (see the Gateway Quarter website for details).

Abandoned OTR interior Renovated OTR interior
(Left) A typical abandoned, decaying, shotgun style house in OTR. (Right) A renovated loft-style condo in Good Fellows Hall on Main Street.

For those unfamiliar with Over-the-Rhine, it is a neighborhood located immediately north of downtown Cincinnati. OTR was once one of the most densely populated places in the country, sporting an amazing 32,000 people per square mile. The population peaked around 45,000 in 1900, but today only 7500 call OTR home. Because of the population decline, many buildings have been abandoned and fallen into disrepair. A staggering amount of buildings have also been demolished. The entire neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine (all 362 acres) is a registered historic district, and over 1000 buildings contribute to that status. It is likely the largest collection of Italianate style buildings in the world, and contains several great examples of other styles, with buildings like Music Hall, Memorial Hall, the American Building, and several breweries.

For those interested in learning more about OTR's history, the Wikipedia entry is a good starting point, and the Over-the-Rhine Foundation's web site is an even better source.

Abandoned OTR interior
Renovated OTR interior
(Top) A unique, large, and gutted OTR building. (Bottom) A small, affordable studio in the Lackman Lofts building.

While previous discussions on Local Architecture have dealt with the failures of architecture due to program and usage, the failures in OTR were a result of outside social, technological, and political forces. The photos on this page and the galleries linked show what has been done to salvage parts of OTR, as well as the state of decay that many buildings have fallen into. I'd like to thank Michael, Holly and Stacy of Gateway Quarter for the tour that allowed me to photograph the renovations that have taken place. These places are examples of how the buildings often shown on this site (even those in seemingly terrible states of decay) can be made into inexpensive places to live and work.

The two galleries linked below contain several photos similar to the ones above, showing both long abandoned and neglected buildings that can be found around Over-the-Rhine, as well as the renovations buildings like these have been through in the Gateway Quarter:


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