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Cincinnati In The News

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Japp's recognized by Esquire as one of the "best bars in America"


Molly Wellmann and her Japp's establishment on Main Street get high praise from Esquire Magazine's David Wondrich, who includes the Over-the-Rhine gem on his list of the 18 best bars in America.

Wondrich writes about the revolution he's witnessed over 11 years as Esquire's Drinks Correspondent, where most U.S. cities are now supporting craft cocktail bars that are full.

"People are paying double to drink in them, and they're not outraged," he writes. "They're coming back, over and over. They're putting their phones away (well, mostly), forgetting about the game, doing their best to act sober. (In my years of visiting these joints, I've rarely seen anybody visibly intoxicated — tipsy, sure; drunk, uncool.) The bartenders, their mustachioed, inked hipsterdom aside, are generally studious and hardworking (if perhaps too devoted to making things by hand that really don't need to be). All of this while the media and the political class are hyperventilating about the irreparable decline of America."

Wondrich suggests getting a Cool Jules at Japp's, "a gin-and-port stunner." Unless it's Tiki night, "in which case, pick something rummy from the chalkboard."

Read the full Esquire Magazine list here.
 

Under Armour deals show how much money UC athletics miss by not being in major conference


The New York Times reports on a new equipment/shoe/jersey contract signed by Under Armour with UCLA that breaks the record for the largest college sponsorship deal ever — the fifth time in the past two years the record has been broken.

Under Armour will pay UCLA’s athletic department $280 million in cash and apparel over 15 years, an average of $18.7 million per year. It extends a trend of rapidly escalating contracts as three sportswear companies — Under Armour, Nike and Adidas — seek greater footholds in the lucrative college sports industry.

The Times story explains that the three companies are focusing their big dollars on high-profile sports programs in the so-called Power 5 conferences, including Ohio State ($16.7 million/year), Michigan ($15.8 million/year) and Texas ($16.8 million/year). It also mentions that Under Armour signed an agreement with the University of Cincinnati, not in a Power 5 conference, worth $5 million/year.

The Enquirer has written extensively about UC's efforts to join the Big 12 Conference, one of the Power 5 that's headed by Texas and Oklahoma.

Read the full New York Times story here.
 

Over-the-Rhine is Cincinnati's booming foodie neighborhood


The Chicago Tribune's travel section features a nice guide to Over-the-Rhine dining options, saying, "Eating in the so-called OTR starts — but doesn't necessarily stop — in the 1300 block of Vine Street, which has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past decade. You can do breakfast, lunch and dinner without leaving the block."

Spots highlighted include Holtman's Donuts (the story features a photo of staffer DeShawn Ashley holding a tray of donuts), The Eagle, Pontiac BBQ, Quan Hapa, Graeter's and Findlay Market.

Read the full Chicago Tribune story here.
 

Brent Spence Bridge an "infrastructure emergency," now what?


The Hill political newspaper website leads off its take on the top five "infrastructure emergencies" across the U.S. with the Brent Spence Bridge, which it says is responsible for moving 4 percent of gross national product.

"Advocates for investing in the nation's infrastructure are hesitant to single out certain projects as deserving priority over others, arguing that sustained funding and attention is needed equally across the board," the story opens. "But there are some crumbling structures threatening both the economy and public safety that are just too urgent not to point out."

That's not news in Greater Cincinnati, where finding a replacement for the aging, overcrowded highway bridge has been a quixotic journey for corporate, government and community leaders for years. Design concepts were announced in 2010, but Ohio, Kentucky and federal political leaders can't agree on funding sources or methods.
 
"Some transportation planners are calling on officials not only to rehabilitate the bridge but to construct a new one alongside it," The Hill writes. "Every year of delay in the start of construction costs the taxpayers nearly $75 million per year in inflation, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation."

President Obama visited the Brent Spence Bridge in 2011 as part of a broader push for infrastructure investments, saying, "It's in such poor condition, it's functionally obsolete."

Read the full story from The Hill here.
 

Cincinnati continues to add population, says Census Bureau report


Cincinnati continues to add residents, although slowly, according to 2015 Census Bureau estimates of U.S. cities' populations.

The city's 2015 population is estimated at 298,550 — a slight increase over the 2014 estimate of 298,041. It was the fourth straight year of population increases in the city, according to the Census Bureau.

Seven of the 10 fastest growing U.S. cities are in Texas and all are below 200,000 population. The average year-over-year change for all cities with 100,000 or more residents was +1 percent.

Read the full Governing Magazine story and access the full Census Bureau report here.
 

Cincinnati and Columbus have recovered recession job losses, Cleveland not so much


Cincinnati and Columbus have regained the jobs each metro area lost during the 2007-09 recession, says a United States Conference of Mayors' report based on Labor Department and other government data. Cleveland won't recover all its recession-era job losses for nearly two more years.

The three metro areas represent Ohio's largest labor markets, each with more than 1 million jobs.

"Though the Cleveland area lags its large metro counterparts in recovering jobs, it will bounce back before some other areas in the state," Olivera Perkins writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "For example, the Dayton and Toledo areas aren't projected to recover their lost jobs until after 2021."

Read the full Cleveland Plain Dealer story here.
 

Hotel Covington named one of South's five hottest new boutique hotels


The New York Times Travel section has a guide to "A New Crop of Boutique Hotels in the South," including one that isn't even open yet: Hotel Covington. The other four are in New Orleans, East Nashville, Richmond and Marfa, Tex.

The story's theme is "Five one-of-a-kind boutique destinations that favor authentic, highly localized design." Hotel Covington is lauded for "vintage free-standing clothing racks (that) pay homage to the location’s past (as a department store). The gastro pub, Coppin’s, will source local and regional ingredients and feature Southern classics including fried chicken, country ham and black-eyed peas. And this summer the spacious patio will host pop-up bars, movie nights and Sunday suppers."

Soapbox's March 15 update on Hotel Covington's progress is here.

Read the full New York Times story here.
 

Oyler School a good example of how "community schools" help improve student outcomes


A blog post from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) says that more and more cities are trying community schools that wrap health, dental, therapeutic and family support services around existing schools to try to mitigate the effects of poverty and thereby improve students’ learning and life prospects.

"This idea is not new," Paul Hill writes. "Its modern incarnation started in Cincinnati in the early 2000s and has now spread to New York City and Philadelphia."

Hill praises Oyler School in Lower Price Hill as "the great community schools exemplar in Cincinnati," saying anyone who visits "is sure to be moved and impressed."

Martin Blank, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership, praised Oyler School last fall on The Huffington Post.

The Center on Reinventing Public Education is a research and policy analysis center at the University of Washington Bothell developing systemwide solutions for K–12 public education.

Read the full CRPE blog post here.
 

Remembering Cincinnati's old streetcars as new ones take to the streets


A small blog post at Governing Magazine shows one of Cincinnati's defunct inclines carrying two streetcars up and down one of the city's bare hills under the headline "Remembering Cincinnati's Old Streetcars."

Cincinnati will debut its new streetcar line in September, the blog post notes, the first time streetcars have carried passengers here since 1951.

"Built to accommodate a growing population in the mid-19th century, the electric system ran smoothly but for one problem: It didn’t have enough power to get up and down the city’s hills," David Kidd writes. "The solution was four cable-operated inclined railways that worked like elevators. Streetcars drove onto a platform and were simply carried up and down the hills."

Can anyone suggest which hill and incline is pictured?

Read the full Governing Magazine story here.
 

$900,000 homes in Indian Hill, Boston and Maryland from New York Times


The New York Times' popular "What You Get" real estate feature turns its attention to suburban Cincinnati, choosing a five-bedroom home in Indian Hill as an example of what you can buy for $900,000 these days and comparing it to a condo in Boston's Back Bay and an 1851 home near Annapolis, Md.

The 6,461 sq. ft. home in Indian Hill is the least expensive by far in terms of cost per square foot as compared to the 2,560 sf home in Maryland and the 869 sf condo in Boston. Indian Hill property taxes, however, are twice as high as those in Maryland and Boston, though the monthly condo fees make up the difference in Boston.

Casey Coston did a riff on the "What You Get" feature in a Soapbox column last year about how much home you can get across Cincinnati for different price points.

Read the full New York Times story here.
 

Want a bike-friendly city? Get ready to fail until it works, says Wired


Here's a fascinating article from Wired about building a bike-friendly culture in cities. Although it doesn't specifically mention Cincinnati, its findings and recommendations definitely apply to us.

"Building any infrastructure, anywhere, is a pain in the neck," writes Aarian Marshall. "You've got to find exactly the right government agencies, community groups, funding sources and contractors. And then you've got to figure out the logistics of construction and worry about the inevitable delays and cost overruns."

But Marshall then says not to despair, that there's good news for our soon-to-be bicycling-loving cities. "Across the country, usually stodgy governments are trying quick and dirty pilot projects, putting down cheap and temporary bicycle infrastructure and giving it a literal test drive (well, ride) before committing to the big stuff."

Like bike-only lanes along Central Parkway?

"Laying down temporary infrastructure before ginning up anything permanent also provides an opportunity to convince skeptics about the upsides of bike travel," Marshall writes. "Demonstration projects go a long way in terms of alleviating fears. Once residents see bicycle infrastructure in action, he says, they (usually) decide it doesn’t take up too much room or cost too much money. That makes it politically easier to build permanent protected lanes, bike boxes and signals."

Read the full Wired story here.
 

Playhouse featured in New York Times story about marketing provocative shows


The New York Times is taking the temperature of regional theaters across the U.S. to see how they're marketing Sex With Strangers, a popular play about a relationship between a female novelist and a younger male blogger.

“Since it had its premiere in 2011 at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, Sex With Strangers has become one of the most produced plays in the country,” Erik Piepenburg writes, “helped by strong reviews ... a small cast and a provocative title.”

Piepenburg explains that theaters have taken usually one of two routes to promote it: with either a G-rated illustration or an R-leaning photograph, usually of the two actors. He surveys six regional theaters, including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, to see which direction their marketing took and what response they got. The Playhouse opened its current Shelterhouse season with the show Sept. 26-Oct. 25.

Read the full New York Times story here.
 

Covington the most underrated place in Kentucky, says Thrillist ranking


Food/drink/travel website Thrillist has published another one of its "best/worst things in all 50 states list," this time identifying the most underrated place in each state. The city of Covington gets the honor for Kentucky: "This one-time downtrodden river town has become a hipster enclave," Thrillist declares.

The list's introduction says Thrillist asked the experts to help compile its list, "from our knowledgeable local writers and editors, to the state tourism boards and visitors bureaus, to our high school friends who never moved away."

Covington is noted for its "stunning views of America’s 10th-best skyline (Cincinnati!);" for "two of America’s best bourbon bars," Wiseguy and the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar; for numerous historic districts; for the Cathedral Basilica, "a one-third replica of the cathedral at Notre Dame;" and for the Roebling Suspension Bridge, "the inspiration for that, you know, lesser-known bridge in Brooklyn."

Ohio's most underrated place is Cedar Point, and Indiana's is the Indianapolis Zoo.

Read the full Thrillist list here.
 

20 years later, John Harkes is part of another soccer beginning


Washington Post soccer reporter Steven Goff interviewed FC Cincinnati head coach John Harkes after the local team won its home opener April 9, recalling another Harkes debut 20 years earlier.

"In April 1996, John Harkes stood at midfield before an inaugural soccer match at San Jose's Spartan Stadium, the captain of a new team in a new nationwide league featuring U.S. World Cup players who could finally earn a proper paycheck at home," Goff writes. "Twenty years and three days later, Harkes was again part of something fresh in American soccer, pacing the sideline on a cold Saturday night in Cincinnati as coach of an expansion club making its home debut in the prosperous third flight. D.C. United and MLS then, FC Cincinnati and USL now."

Goff remarks on FC Cincinnati's amazing support from 14,658 fans on a cold night, saying the Nippert Stadium crowd "was larger than MLS matches in Washington and Dallas and considerably bigger than all five games in the second-division North American Soccer League."

FC Cincinnati plays its second home match April 16 against Louisville. Read Soapbox's February interview with FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding here.

Read the full Washington Post story here.
 

Cincinnati's never-used subway is 100 years old this month


"In 1916, the people of Cincinnati voted to fund the construction of a subway that would revolutionize the city’s public transportation system," Scott Rodd writes at the Next City website. "One hundred years later, all that remains is a 2-mile stretch of abandoned tunnels below the declining Rust Belt city."

Rodd goes on to relate the fascinating story of how Cincinnati approved $6 million in bonds to build a subway "loop" centered in downtown only to have a subsequent mayor halt the project mid-stream, leaving abandoned tunnels and tracks under Central Parkway to this day. Foreshadowing, perhaps, for the Cincinnati Streetcar loop, which was almost halted a few years ago by newly-elected Mayor John Cranley? Instead, the streetcar starts public operations later this year.

(Note to Rodd: Cincinnati is a "declining Rust Belt city?" Dude, you need to get a clue from national reports like this, this and this of Cincinnati's renaissance and rejuvenation ...and those are from just the past week.)

The Ohio Department of Transportation eventually built large portions of Interstates 71 and 75 in urban Cincinnati on land the state had originally purchased for the subway loop, saving money by avoiding right-of-way acquisitions and eminent domain but forever destroying rail transit routes.

Read the full Next City story here.
 
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