Best Of 2022

A changing of the guard has arrived. By defeating opponent and longtime politician David Mann in November’s election, the 39-year-old Aftab Pureval cemented two important firsts: the first new mayor since former mayor John Cranley took office two terms ago, and Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor. City Council member and Cincinnati Herald publisher Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney joined Pureval’s administration as vice mayor, and both have promised — and shown — an understanding of Cincinnati’s inequities as well as a commitment to alleviating them. Likewise, six of Cincinnati’s nine City Council seats were taken by newcomers, introducing fresh perspectives for tackling Cincinnati’s issues.
Brent Spence Bridge
Photo: Creative Commons
Brent Spence Bridge

We all know the Brent Spence Bridge, which carries the freight equivalent of 3% of the nation’s gross domestic product according to the National Association of Manufacturers, is in dire need of improvements and repair after seven decades in existence. Opened in 1963, the bridge moves traffic north and south on I-71 and I-75 across the Ohio River. For decades, it has been a source of daily traffic jams, extended safety and maintenance projects, and efficiency failures. In February, the American Transportation Research Institute named the I-71 and I-75 confluence at the Brent Spence Bridge the second-worst truck bottleneck in the entire country — the same ranking as in 2021 and three spots higher than in 2020. For about eight months beginning last March, the Brent Spence Bridge closed half its lanes for maintenance, and finally reopened to regular traffic on Nov. 8. And last April, CNN even explored the history of politicians failing for decades to address the Brent Spence Bridge’s long-standing issues. But the trouble spot may finally get its glow-up, thanks to heavy alignment from Ohio and Kentucky leaders. In February, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a memorandum of understanding outlining plans to jointly apply for and use federal dollars to revamp Greater Cincinnati’s longtime traffic nuisance. Plans from the Ohio and Kentucky transportation teams call for the Brent Spence Bridge to be repaired while a toll-free companion bridge is erected nearby to help alleviate traffic. Beshear said that he and DeWine would jointly request a total of about $2 billion for the project. “There is no bridge in this country that is as necessary and needing of a change,” DeWine said. Yeah, you’re telling us.
Oh, Ohio, we sure do love your nerve. Every year, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles releases its list of vanity-plate applications that it rejects for being too suggestive, hostile, racist or violent. The 827 application dismissals in 2021 were as laugh-inducing as ever, with many focused on bodily parts and functions. Last year, the BMV did not permit references to butts (IATEASS, AXEHOLE), breasts (TITSOUT, B00B33S), penises (NCE COK, SMOLL PP) or sexytime (MLF LVR, BND OVR). Our personal favorite? PORK N IT, which is gently crude enough to fit in at a high school locker room while also giving a nice nod to Cincinnati’s obsession with pigs.
Where would we be during this pandemic without the many hillside steps that let us get some fresh air and exercise without having to be in extended proximity to big crowds? Cincinnati Art Museum’s nicely landscaped Art Climb, which debuted in 2020, got most of the attention, but it’s hard to beat the Main Street Steps, all 354 of them, for best overall stair-stepping experience. Connecting Mulberry Street in Over-the-Rhine with Jackson Hill Park in Mount Auburn, it’s quite a scenic trip up, cutting through thickets of green foliage and across narrow, hillside-clinging residential streets where homes have backyards full of all sorts of funky, colorful adornments. You’re not isolated either — people use the stairway for exercise and pedestrian commuting. But they keep moving.
After a developer proposed demolishing a portion of Glendale’s historic Eckstein School in order to adapt what remained into senior housing, Cincinnati Preservation Association stepped in to save the whole structure by committing to purchase the building. The school educated the village’s Black children during the segregation years of 1915-1958 and also served as an activity center for all of the village’s Black residents. There have long been efforts to convert the Eckstein to a cultural arts center that would tell the history of Glendale’s Black residents, and the preservation association’s action now gives those seeking that time to finalize their plans. The save merited national attention when Brent Leggs, executive director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Culture Heritage Action Fund, labeled Eckstein School a “cultural asset important in Black American history.”
After Gertie the dog went missing in her Northside neighborhood in July, her guardian’s neighbor heard a whimpering sound coming from behind the wall of a garage. Apparently Gertie had somehow become trapped between the cinder-block wall and the original wall of the garage — an area so tight that the dog could not move laterally. The Cincinnati Fire Department was called, but they initially were unable to lift the 35-pound white terrier mix due to the size of the space. The squad then beat the cinder-block wall with a sledgehammer until they broke all the way through. Jenn Adkins, a Cincinnati firefighter, was finally able to get through to Gertie, reaching in and pulling her to safety.
Any beer is really the best beer at The Banks after the development of the area’s DORA district. The 85-acre “Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area” officially opened last March and allows those of legal drinking age to wander around a specific space with an open container. The Banks’ DORA spans from Paul Brown Stadium to Heritage Bank Center and to the south sidewalk of Second Street and north sidewalk of Mehring Way. It is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, meaning you can grab a beer, wine or cocktail from participating businesses in a branded DORA cup and have a picnic or take a walk while you imbibe. The new boozy rules came in especially handy during this year’s Bengals pep rallies. The Banks isn’t the only DORA in town, either. Neighborhoods like Cheviot, Milford, Bellevue and more also have areas where you can grab an alcoholic beverage to sip while you stroll.
This fall saw the groundbreaking for a statue of Cincinnati hero and world heavyweight boxing champion Ezzard Charles. The 13-foot-tall statue will honor Charles’ legacy and should be fully in place at its home Laurel Park in the West End in 2022. John Hebenstreit, who also designed the Black Brigade monument in Smale Riverfront Park, began sculpting the statue in 2017, the Cincinnati Parks Foundation says. The plaza surrounding it will be designed by CHAATRIK Architecture & Urban Design.
Can you imagine Shamu the killer whale owning the Beast? It could have happened, had Cedar Fair — the company that owns Kings Island and other amusement parks — accepted SeaWorld’s offer to buy its whole portfolio. But in February, Cedar Fair turned down the reported $3.4 billion cash offer to be acquired, keeping Kings Island’s ownership right here in Ohio (Cedar Fair is based in Sandusky). That’s a win for Cincinnati, because who knows what SeaWorld might have done to our beloved park in Mason. Besides, SeaWorld already had its chance in the Buckeye State when the Florida-based company ran — and later closed — a mind-boggling location in Cleveland decades ago.
It was a ready-made joke just begging for a punchline. In November, two officers from the Cincinnati Police Department responded to a call to help capture a skittish runaway pig in Bond Hill. A Facebook video shows the officers following the piggy around some apartment buildings on Yarmouth Avenue, chuckling as they tried to complete their latest assignment; the only thing missing was “Yakety Sax” as the soundtrack. CPD eventually captured the pig with a leash and wrestled him into their cruiser. And why was a pig wandering in an urban neighborhood in the first place? We’re still not sure, but folks at the Cincinnati Animal CARE Humane Society, where CPD brought the little guy, said that “Oinker” was a frequent visitor.