Thoughts On Cincinnati
Cincinnati was the center of my universe growing up. I could not imagine a better or more loving community. Then I went east for school, south for school, east for my first job and west for my entire life since. I could never imagine living there again. It was far too politically and culturally conservative. It was filled with chains of family expectations dragging me towards a life I did not want to live. I felt my deepest connections to the vistas of wide oceans and to the ferment of social and political change.
I have gone back several times in the last two decades; I come back as an alien to the city of my birth with many pre-conceived expectations. I come back with the experience of having lived in LA, Boston and to some degree Sacramento, another thriving river city.
Cincinnati now strikes me as if preserved in amber from an earlier simpler time, a contrast of black and white, a city that has recovered its downtown and built vast suburbs, a city that has hollowed out with empty streets and quiet aging neighborhoods. Yet I can barely find my way around. The memories crowd in. I feel as if I know everyone I see on the streets. I feel as if I could go up and talk to anyone of them, and we could pass the time of day. There is a warmth, sense of community and hospitality that endures. I see a city that is waking up with the Riverfront, revitalized downtown and the Over the Rhine neighborhoods. I see a city with a vast higher educational expansion at the University of Cincinnati and Xavier, a city with lots of medical care, lots of churches, re-purposed architecture, and plenty of cultural institutions. I see a city without the Rust Belt collapse that you may see elsewhere in Ohio and Pennsylvania; it seems to have survived the collapse of local manufacturing and evolved.
So what the heck is going on? What is driving the local economy? Maybe it’s young entrepreneurs; maybe it's the revitalized old established business interests, and maybe it's the spin0ff effects from the academic institutions (as Stanford is to Silicon Valley, so UC and X are to the Queen City). I did not see the thriving immigrant entrepreneurs and ethnic diversity that characterize California, but maybe they were busy at their work, and I was there for a too short and too circumscribed visit.
Love your thoughts, those who cherish my old hometown.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin