Most people don’t want to be reminded of how things were in 1997: The Internet was still referred to as the World Wide Web; we had to ask each other questions instead of using Google or Wikipedia; quoting Austin Powers was the height of hilarity; and iPhones hadn’t even been invented yet. But for us at CityBeat, looking back on the past isn’t so bad — less like remembering the Dark Ages and more like remembering a time when Teva sandals were worn without irony and dudes with earrings were super alternative; when Cincinnati had more than one newspaper — more than one altweekly, actually — and when we decided to publish the first Best of Cincinnati issue.
Two decades later, we’re happy to report that this relatively simple premise — an annual recollection of the best people, places, organizations and businesses in town — is still going strong. The inaugural Best of Cincinnati issue weighed in at 41 pages (“Our biggest issue ever!”); this year’s checks in a 152 (“Biggest ever again!”). We’ve added new reader poll categories over the years as technology, trends and tastes have changed. And we’ve very much enjoyed backhandedly complimenting local politicians and their cronies for annoying us while we are trying to enjoy our city.
For this year’s issue, we revisited past Best of Cincinnati issues and found that this project has always been much more than a popularity contest or the doling out of hollow accolades. Since this publication’s inception, we’ve rallied for, cheered on and congratulated Cincinnatians’ efforts to build a better community and a better city over the years, and all of the progress we’ve made is documented within the pages of Best of Cincinnati issues past and present.
We went back to find some of the highlights, sparing no expense (i.e. the time it takes to literally flip through dusty old newspapers) to remind ourselves from where we came (see page 16). And, once again, we spent a long time conversing over several months and several beers about our staff favorites in all Best of Cincinnati categories, from arts and nightlife to eats, shops, sports and politics.
As you peruse this year’s Best of Cincinnati 20th anniversary issue, we hope you enjoy the recognition of another fantastic orbit around the sun for this city’s people and places, companies and civic groups — as voted on by us and you —
which yet again have outdone themselves. If there’s anyone you think we missed, let us know.
Thank you to all who have voted over the years, whether you did so via paper ballot, from the confines of the local Internet café or using your handheld pocket computer. If you faxed it, it was delivered to 2001.
See all the winners here
, and access the full digital issue here