Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Hamilton County. The municipality is located in southwestern Ohio and is situated on the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border. The population within city limits is 332,252, while Greater Cincinnati’s population exceeds 2.1 million. Residents of Cincinnati are called Cincinnatians.
Cincinnati is considered to have been the first major American boomtown rapidly expanding in the heart of the country in the early nineteenth century to rival the larger coastal cities in size and wealth. As the first major inland city in the country, it is sometimes thought of as the first purely American city, lacking the heavy European influence that was present on the east coast. However, by the end of the century, Cincinnati’s growth had slowed considerably, and the city was surpassed in population by many other inland cities.
Cincinnati is home to major sports teams including the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as events like the Cincinnati Masters and the Thanksgiving day race. The University of Cincinnati traces its foundation to the Medical College of Ohio, which was founded in 1819.
Cincinnati is also known for having one of the larger collections of nineteenth-century German architecture in the U.S., primarily concentrated just north of Downtown, one of the largest historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
From steamboats to baseball, Cincinnati history is both rich and diverse,as shown from a section of Great American Ball Park.Cincinnati was founded in 1788 by John Cleves Symmes and Colonel Robert Patterson. Surveyor John Filson (also the author of The Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boone) named it “Losantiville” from four terms, each of a different language, meaning “the city opposite the mouth of the Licking River.” “Ville” is French for “city,” “anti” is Greek for “opposite,” “os” is Latin for “mouth,” and “L” was all that was included of “Licking River.”
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 a member. The society honored General George Washington, who was considered a latter day Cincinnatus — the Roman general who saved his city, then retired from power 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.
In 1802, Cincinnati was chartered as a village and David Ziegler (1748-1811), a Revolutionary War veteran from Heidelberg, Germany, became the first mayor. Cincinnati was incorporated as a city in 1819. 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.
Cincinnati in 1841 with the Miami and Erie Canal in the foreground.Construction on the Miami and Erie Canal began on July 21, 1825, when it was called the Miami Canal, a reference to the Little Miami River, which was its origin, and water was diverted into the canal bed in 1827. The canal began by connecting Cincinnati to nearby Middletown in 1827 and, by 1840, the canal had reached Toledo, changing the Miami Canal to the Miami and Erie Canal and signifying the connection between the Little Miami River and Lake Erie.
During this period of rapid expansion, citizens of Cincinnati began referring to the city as the “Queen” city. The phrase was cemented in the poem “Catawba Wine” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote that the city was “the Queen of the West,” giving the city its nickname.
Railroads were the next major form of transportation to come to Cincinnati. In 1836, the Little Miami Railroad was chartered. Construction began soon after, with the purpose of connecting Cincinnati with the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, and thus the ports of the Sandusky Bay.