Over-the-Rhine is a neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. Believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the US, this area was at one time a troubled neighborhood struggling to emerge from decades of decay; today, it’s a turnaround success. In 2011, Over-the-Rhine was voted “Best Cincinnati Neighborhood” in CityBeat’s Best of Cincinnati.
Over-the-Rhine is bordered by the neighborhoods of Downtown, CUF, Mount Auburn, Pendleton and the West End. Founded in the early 1800s, the neighborhood was home to the Germans who were immigrating to the city; during that time, a canal separated the community from Cincinnati’s center. Natives referred to the area as being “over the Rhine.” Continued immigration led to German cultural influences such as German churches, cultural institutions and German-language newspapers dominating the neighborhood.
Over-the-Rhine’s predominant architectural style is Italianate; other 19th-century styles here include Federal, Greek Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne and Renaissance. Over-the-Rhine also offers many simply-designed, working-class homes that have only modest elements of these high styles.
This architecture developed largely between 1860 and 1900, when the German influence reached its peak. By the 1940s Over-the-Rhine was considered a neighborhood in decline.
Today, things have changed again. The Main Street area has experienced substantial commercial redevelopment and now offers a variety of shops, art galleries, restaurants and nightspots. As the neighborhood emerges as an up-and-coming urban village, condominiums are now located in former warehouses and converted tenements. The community’s proximity to downtown and major transportation corridors has attracted new residents, just as it attracted Over-the-Rhine’s original builders.
Over-the-Rhine was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Its architectural significance has been compared to the New Orleans French Quarter and the historic districts of Savannah and Charleston.
Findlay Market, Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market and one of Cincinnati’s most cherished institutions, is home to about two dozen indoor merchants selling meat, fish, poultry, produce, flowers, cheese, deli, and ethnic foods. Findlay Market was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and is a center of economic activity in Over-the-Rhine.