File Size: 5447 KB
Print Length: 179 pages
Publisher: The History Press (September 17, 2010)
Publication Date: September 17, 2010
This book is mostly about the history of OTR. It talks about the German heritage of the neighborhood.
This book discusses the living conditions of OTR.
Most of the book is about all of the politics and laws back in the day.
If you want to learn about the history of OTR, this is the book for you. If you want to learn about the old breweries, then this is not the book for you., Over-the-Rhine was once the heart of a thriving German-American area in Cincinnati and home to two dozen breweries. It's also a dilapidated district and 19th century architectural time capsule that civic-minded Cincinnatians are attempting to preserve while so that it is into a livable city neighborhood. The rise and fall of OTR is the subject of Eileen Morgan's dynamite short history, "Over-the-Rhine: When Beer Had been King. "
Based mostly on primary sources, Morgan tells the story of how German immigrants settled in this enclave northern of the Miami and Erie Canal (the "Rhine") in the 1840s and 1850s. They brought a present which we treasure still to this day: lager beer. Many machines grew wealthy and built brewhouses that were Romanesque Revival palaces. OTR blossomed with 1000s of beer gardens, saloons, and entertainment venues.
However, there was nativist causes at work to challenge German society as well as its beer-soaked culture. Morgan writes, "Before gay marriage, abortion privileges, civil rights or maybe the Vietnam War, beer became the focal point of a much broader social discussion. " That was temperance, the social reform movement that gave us Prohibition.
Prohibition devastated Cincinnati's abundant brewing tradition. A few of breweries reopened after 1933, but the industry - and OTR - never recovered. The last brewery closed in the 1955s; the local brewers found they couldn't take on the emerging national brands. There are today only two active breweries in OTR: the Schoenling Brewery, where the Boston Beer Company makes Sam Adams, and the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, which in 2010 took over the former Kauffman Brewery (a building that was, even more recently, the Husman Potato Chip Factory).
When I visited Cincinnati oh. over a book tour in 2009, Mike, his wife Amy, and Steve Hampton of the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District required on a fun tour of Cincinnati's dilapidated breweries. Especially interesting were the tunnels under the streets to go beverage to bottling plants, as the law once required brewers to keep their brewing and bottling plant life separate. They lead the Prohibition Resistance Tour, and Morgan also organizes the annual Bockfest.
Morgan will save the best for last in the final part, "Rot and Redemption, inches about the struggle to preserve the crumbling buildings of the Brewery District. Half of the historic buildings have been lost - and almost all of the rest have been in danger from neglect. "They are the stories of battles over the vision of practical tips for the deteriorating remains of any vanquished culture, " Morgan writes. The only thing missing from the book is a contemporary map of OTR to help explore the neighborhood.
Today OTR feels largely abandoned other than for the homeless. Yet there are glimmers of hope: Main Street and Vine Street have captivated new residents and businesses, and Findlay Market is serving as an point to an area community while attracting 1000s of shoppers. Advocates are pushing for a modern streetcar line that can simply bring people into the neighborhood.
Beer - and people - are slowly returning to Over-the-Rhine. Repurposing old structures for modern needs is possible; just look at Cincinnati's stunning Union Terminal. The question is, will there be enough urban redevelopment in time to save the decaying Over-the-Rhine district, or could it be too little, too overdue?
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