Best Of 2023

This was worthy of an eggplant emoji. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized huge, illegal loads of pills used to treat erectile dysfunction that were coming through the Port of Cincinnati in January. Feds sucked up more than 32,500 Viagra, Cialis and Levitra pills along with 1,050 packets of jellies containing "miracle honey," which features Viagra's active ingredient of sildenafil. The illegal packages originated in China, India, Malaysia and Sudan, and the criminals faced stiff penalties.
If you’re driving toward Downtown from the West Side — perhaps coming down from Price Hill and continuing on the Sixth Street Viaduct — or if you’re simply passing by the city core on I-75, you’ve surely seen the illuminated panels spelling out C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I on the west façade of the Duke Energy Convention Center. A clever overlay of color has made the message all the more meaningful, showing support with yellow and blue lighting for Ukraine and changing over to red and blue following Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin’s terrifying collapse during a January NFL game against the Bengals. The convention center’s letters and colors underscored our big-hearted city for all to see.
Alms Park, located near Columbia Tusculum, has plenty of ground to wander and includes a view of the Ohio River, a lifelike statue of composer Stephen Foster and a large playground and picnic area for families — all anchored by an old Italian Renaissance-style stone pavilion. However, the best part might be the large scenic hillside with a bird’s-eye view overlooking historic Lunken Field, home to the Cincinnati Municipal Airport where the Beatles, Charles Lindbergh and other historic figures once landed when they flew into the city. Visitors can sit on the long bench built into the length of the hillside or picnic-style on the grass to watch planes take off and land with birds floating at what seems like eye level.
As one of the world’s biggest public health crises, COVID-19 has both killed millions of people since early 2020 and exposed government shortcomings when dealing with major medical emergencies. In the United States, the Biden administration pushed through a program in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service that would deliver free COVID-19 home test kits upon request to residents — something that especially has helped vulnerable populations like low-income families, people without private health insurance and people without adequate transportation to get to local testing centers. The program had been renewed and paused repeatedly throughout 2022, depending on funding from Congress. But in December, the White House shifted budget items around to fund one final round of tests. It’s been a huge success, with USPS delivering a total of more than 737 million tests as of February 2023, enabling more people to discern if they’re infectious or should gather in public. But as with nearly all pandemic-related government initiatives, the program is scheduled to expire in May, leaving people to fend for themselves once again.
Amazon Air Hub workers who are unionizing
Photo: Provided by Amazon Air Hub Union Organizers
Amazon Air Hub workers who are unionizing

It takes a lot of courage to unionize your workplace, especially when you work for a mega-corporation like Amazon. Many employees at the Amazon Air Hub in Hebron, Kentucky, launched an effort to unionize in November — the first air hub in the country to openly start union efforts. The employees are calling for a $30 hourly wage, more time off and representation at disciplinary meetings. Organizers pushed through a holiday season with no “peak” bonus pay while canvassing for public support on the weekends at Findlay Market. Amazon has told CityBeat that unions aren’t the best answer for its employees, but that’s not slowing them down in 2023.
The Callery pear tree has beautiful white flowers, but it also harbors compounds that are derivatives of ammonia, which produces the familiar scent of, well, semen. And if your block has dozens of these things, you know that the air smells like a never-ending orgy. Aside from causing the post-coital aroma that blankets the city every spring, the non-native species creates other problems, like crowding out useful trees and damaging local ecosystems. There’s good news, though: In January, Ohio began outlawing the buying, selling and planting of these awful things, becoming the first state to do so.
We all know it, but do we take the time to appreciate it? We’re talking about the Saxony apartment building at the corner of Ninth and Race streets in Downtown. The head-turning color palette is a gift to strolling pedestrians, especially in the fall. Against the sangria-colored brick are pops of tangerine, olive, lavender, mustard and hot pink. The deep, vibrant base makes it perfect for autumn pictures along the falling leaves of Ninth Street. Grab a coffee from nearby BlaCk Coffee Lounge for a stroll so serene you might just forget to take that photo.
As if Nation Kitchen & Bar needed any help getting us to slam burgers and bloody marys, the architecture of Nation’s Westwood location is a destination in its own right. Solid cement bricks shine from floor to soaring ceiling in this historic firehouse-turned-restaurant. Built in 1907, Engine Co. #33 was built with limestone trim and a stunning arched window on the second floor. Looking at the beautifully preserved building is nice, but drinking a beer inside with a side of tots could very well be how this building was meant to be enjoyed.
In late 2022, Rep. Jennifer Gross from West Chester, who previously had a lot of weird takes on COVID-19 and magnets, shifted her focus to casting “witchcraft” out of the Ohio Statehouse. During a December chamber session, Gross introduced Curtis Hill, an associate pastor at LifeChurch, who proceeded to rally House members against the "dark forces." He then shared a long list of things he wanted to cast out, including "witchcraft" and "perversion."
What do you need for a date night? Pretty lights? Good drinks? Yummy food? Quality entertainment? Literally all of that can be found in the business district of College Hill. Grab low-key, ethnic grub at MashRoots or Tortilleria Garcia, or get a little more highbrow at Kiki College Hill, Marty's Hops and Vines or Bacalls Cafe. Or try Smoky Moth, recently opened by the owners of Sleepy Bee as their first try at a dinner-focused restaurant. For drinks, head to Brink Brewing Company (they offer trivia on Tuesdays), or check out the new hot spot Big Chill, a family-friendly bar that will have a walk-up soft-serve window come summer. Whatever you want from an evening stroll with your partner, you can find it in College Hill.