Best Of 2019

One of Cincinnati’s marquee music destinations has a new...er...marquee. The Woodward Theater, a popular music and events venue in Over-the-Rhine, received a $150,000 grant last year to bring back its historic exterior signage — a vital part of the neighborhood’s vibrant, diverse streetscape. Owners of the Woodward used the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Partners In Preservation grant to restore the theater’s original façade and install an electric sign and copper marquee designed by local artist Kate Schmidt. “Cincinnatians understand and embrace our city’s history,” said Woodward Theater co-owner Dan McCabe of the grant. “From our music, our beer, our baseball… to our unique architectural heritage. Cincinnati continues to demonstrate to other cities how to celebrate and leverage their history for future growth.” The Woodward was a movie house from 1913 to 1933. After that, the Beaux Arts-style building was home to an auto dealer, a grocery and an antiques business. McCabe and his partners started renovating The Woodward in 2013 and reopened it as an entertainment venue four years ago. McCabe says he and his partners always planned to rehab the building’s exterior but had to get the interior in shape first. In addition to the replaced signage, some of the grant money was used to recreate 52 rosettes that housed light bulbs on the original marquee, upgrade wiring, scrub the porcelain brick and other repairs. The Woodward won the PIP grant as part of a nationwide online contest. The Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, woodwardtheater.com.

City Life


This year, Cincinnati transit activists the Better Bus Coalition took it up a notch, providing free bus benches, pushing successfully for the city’s first bus-only lane during downtown rush hour and introducing a ballot initiative to boost bus funding. The coalition has done tons of social media activism around Metro’s struggles, highlighting aging buses, riders left waiting in the cold and more in daily posts. But the group takes things several steps further, too. They’ve engaged residents to create their own roadmap to a better Metro, for example. It remains to be seen whether voters will approve their proposed Cincinnati payroll tax increase, which the group estimates would cost a person in Cincinnati making $40,000 a year an extra $6.67 a month. Either way, expect the Better Bus Coalition to stay active in pushing for better transit service. Better Bus Coalition, betterbuscoalition.org.

The renovated Ziegler Park Pool is turning into not only a community hot spot, but also a hip place to see and be seen. Partly because of the location (across from Alumni Lofts in the former School for Creative and Performing Arts), partly because of the cost (daily admission is $4 for adults, with a sliding fee scale for season passes) and partly because of the features. Helmed by 3CDC, this former Cincinnati Recreation Commission pool has undergone a significant makeover to encompass three distinct sections: a zero-depth wheelchair-accessible area, an area with lap lanes and another with a diving board and rock-climbing wall. As a community-first pool, the urban swim club also offers lessons, a swim team and activities like water aerobics. But we’re here for the Adult Swim parties. During these 21-and-up nights held monthly during the summer last year, there were DJs, wine, local craft beers (and Bud Light) and food trucks. In addition, Ziegler also hosted a Dog Swim to close out the season, inviting vaccinated and well-behaved canines into the pool for a dip. Ziegler Park Pool, 1322 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, zieglerpark.org.

2. American Can Lofts

3. The Boulevard at Oakley Station

4. Aqua on the Levee

5. Harper’s Point Apartments

6. Alumni Lofts

7. Newberry Lofts on 6th

8. Woodbrooke Apartments

9. The Waldo Apartments

10. The Gramercy on Garfield

2. Over-the-Rhine Community Housing

3. Model Group

2. Union Terminal

3. Cincinnati Observatory

2. Northside

3. Clifton

Like a mini version of the iconic London Eye, Skystar is a 15-story “observation wheel” that went up at The Banks downtown at the end of August to celebrate the riverfront development’s 10th anniversary. The Ferris wheel features 36 glass-enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas that take up to six riders on a 12-minute spin for a unique view of the river and Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky skylines. The portable — yes, portable — tourist attraction has been traveling across America, setting up shop in cities including Norfolk, Virginia and Louisville, Kentucky to offer elevated views and a novel pop-up experience. At night, the wheel turns into a glowing orb with more than 1 million colored LED lights and casts a pretty cool neon reflection into the waters of the Ohio River. Skystar became so popular that the company extended its original stay from August to December 2018 through mid-June 2019, which means it will be around for Opening Day, the Taste of Cincinnati and Asian Food Fest. More than 100,000 people have ridden the wheel since its arrival. Skystar, 55 E. Freedom Way, Downtown, skystarwheel.com.

2. Brian Garry

3. Pete Rose

4. Molly Wellmann

5. Tamaya Dennard

6. Bob Herzog

7. Anthony Muñoz

8. Nick Lachey

9. Drew Lachey

10. Cam Hardy (TIE)

10. Chris Seelbach (TIE)

2. Xavier University

3. Northern Kentucky University