It’s also known as the Queen City.
Here’s what you need to know about why Cincinnati is also called the Queen City.
Why Is Cincinnati The Queen City?
Newspaper editors called the city such because they wanted newcomers to see Cincinnati as a beacon of civilization.
It was an advertising tool to encourage more people to move there.
If people believed that the city was a beacon of culture and civilization, then they’d be more willing to make the great trip over there.
Before the 1800s, Cincinnati’s reputation wasn’t ideal.
There was a lot of pushback from neighboring Native Americans who wanted their land back.
Fort Washington was eventually built there to help protect the settlers from attacks.
Since the area had a large number of soldiers, it helped the population grow as businessmen looking to trade with soldiers and provide them with services came to the town.
Its position on the Ohio River was also ideal for business as a trade route
Because it was a neighbor of Kentucky at the time, many abolitionists also moved to Cincinnati to help slaves escape and promote anti-slavery politics.
Eventually, a medical center would open there as well, providing greater care for its residents.
Famous authors also made Cincinnati their home, further giving the city credit for being a beacon of culture.
So, Cincinnati became the Queen City because of its culture and its focus on the betterment of civilization.
The earliest traces of Cincinnati’s nickname of the Queen City dates back to 1819.
In various newspaper articles, the editors called Cincinnati the Queen of the West.
At that time, Cincinnati was considered the far west.
The rest of the United States had yet to develop and claim the future states further beyond it.
It also had other nicknames like Athens of the West.
Queen of the West was eventually shortened down to Queen City.
Is Cincinnati Or Charlotte The Queen City?
Cincinnati isn’t the only city with the nickname of Queen City.
Charlotte, North Carolina, is another city that uses the nickname.
This may make you wonder which is the actual Queen City.
In truth, both cities use the nickname, but they both have it for different reasons.
Charlotte, North Carolina has the name Queen City because the city, itself, bears the name of a queen.
It received its name from Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
She was King George III’s wife.
King George III was the king of England from whom America would eventually fight for its independence.
Because Charlotte is named after an actual queen, it received the nickname of Queen City.
Cincinnati doesn’t have any ties to actual queens.
Instead, it got its name for its focus on culture.
It’s similar to calling something a diamond in the rough.
It was a queen compared to the inferior cities around it because of its culture and civilized society.
Both Cincinnati and Charlotte have the nickname of Queen City, but they both developed the nickname for different reasons.
When Was Cincinnati Founded?
Cincinnati had a turbulent start.
It was initially three different settlements that eventually merged.
Columbia was the first settlement.
Benjamin Stites founded it in 1788.
It was close to the mouth of the Little Miami.
The second settlement was Losantiville.
The third was North Bend which was close to the Ohio River.
These settlements remained separate for a time.
Eventually, soldiers built Fort Washington near Losantiville.
The construction finished in 1789.
They built it there to reduce the attacks made by the Native Americans who had first settled there.
The attacks had become so bad that General Anthony Wayne led an army against them.
The ensuing battle became known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
The army was so successful that it stopped the majority of the Native American confederation from continuing their military attacks on those in Ohio.
Shortly after this, Wayne made the area the county seat and called it Cincinnati after a group of Revolutionary officers called the Society of the Cincinnati.
The year was 1790.
When Did Cincinnati Become A Major Port City?
Cincinnati is a unique area on the Ohio River.
However, it didn’t become a major port city until the New Orleans, a steamboat from Pennsylvania, made the crossing and made it to the city.
It arrived in 1811 and officially put the city on the map as a place for trade.
Two canals would further encourage river trade along the Ohio River.
The first was the Miami Canal.
The second was the Erie Canal.
It allowed easy passage from various lakes and rivers into the Ohio River and straight to Cincinnati.
By 1852, Cincinnati was bustling with trade.
In particular, it stimulated its own steamboat industry.
Cincinnati also became connected to a railroad.
In 1843, the Little Miami railroad connected the city to the rest of its route.
This further opened up the city for trade.
Although it first garnered the nickname Porkopolis, it would eventually earn the nickname the Queen of the West.
The nickname of Porkopolis, however, came from the heavy pig trade that occurred in the city.
The Queen of the West nickname, which would eventually get shortened to Queen City, became immortalized in a poem.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was responsible for the poem.
He wrote it in 1854, but newspapers had been calling the city by this nickname long before it.
What Abolitionists Lived In Cincinnati?
One of the reasons many people called Cincinnati the Queen City is because of its culture.
Part of that culture was the anti-slavery sentiment that existed there.
While some had concerns over a large number of African-Americans now filling their city and what that meant for jobs, some famous abolitionists made Cincinnati their stomping grounds.
Two of those were Henry Ward Beecher and Levi Coffin.
Beecher lived in Cincinnati and went to school there.
He also started a church there and gained a popular following.
Eventually, he’d move to New York where he gained an even more popular following.
He was very passionate about his anti-slavery views.
He even went to England, where he did not initially impress, and gave speeches about slavery.
Eventually, his speeches moved the public and changed their perspective.
While Beecher was a famous anti-slavery abolitionist, it was his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, who is, perhaps, more remembered.
She wrote the famous book Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Once published, the book ignited a wave of anti-slavery feelings across educated circles.
Some even consider the book as one of the reasons behind the eventual breakout of the American Civil War.
Levi Coffin was the unofficial “President” of the Underground Railroad.
He assisted in helping thousands of slaves escape from their chains.
He worked primarily in Cincinnati due to its proximity to Kentucky.
It was a great staging point to help former slaves get to free states.
After the Civil War, Coffin would continue to assist freedmen by campaigning for them and helping them raise funds.
Cincinnati has an intimate history with the Underground Railroad due to its perfect location close to Kentucky and the Ohio River.
It was a place where many abolitionists gathered to gain further support for their cause.
Why Is Cincinnati Called A Cultural Center?
Besides having a rich history associated with abolitionists and the Underground Railroad, there are a few other things that Cincinnati has that make it a cultural center.
The reason it’s called the Queen City is largely due to these buildings and services.
Here are some of the cultural buildings that you can find in Cincinnati.
1. The Cincinnati Opera
One of the first hallmarks of Cincinnati’s culture is the Cincinnati Opera.
It opened its doors on June 27th, 1920, and hasn’t stopped since.
That makes it the country’s second-oldest opera company in history.
The first performance it ever gave was the opera called “Martha.”
It had scheduled performances at the Cincinnati Zoo for several years before it moved to its own venue.
It was part of the zoo’s entertainment for 50 years.
At its peak, the opera put on 18 productions that featured 61 performances in a 10-week season.
In 1972, however, the opera finally got its own home.
The Music Hall opened and featured a 3,417-seat theatre.
Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior considers it a National Historic Landmark.
With the new venue, the opera was able to start showing rarer operas that opera fans would enjoy.
They no longer had to stick with popular operas that the general public had a passing recollection of.
Not only did this add some credit to the opera house, but it also established a passionate following among opera fans in Cincinnati.
Later in the 1970s, they’d also start using the theatre for musical theatre.
This gave the venue the chance to cater to new audiences who love music but may not necessarily have the patience or interest for opera.
It only made the venue grow further in popularity and success.
The opera would continue to change hands over the decades as Artistic Directors retired or resigned, allowing others to take the spotlight.
Each new Artistic Director would add new changes to the Music Hall to make it even more inviting to audiences.
The opera even started traveling.
They started a program called Opera Campus in 2013.
The symphony would play at scheduled venues outside of the Music Hall.
Not only did this give those who might be able to get out to the Music Hall a chance to listen to the symphony, but it gave the symphony a chance to do some free advertising.
The symphony and opera house have always pushed to showcase diverse voices in the community.
Today, you can find them performing shows that feature diverse characters.
2. Cincinnati Museum Center
Another cultural icon of Cincinnati is the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Besides being a huge museum that features Ohioan and American history, it’s also situated in the Union Terminal rail station.
The Union Terminal first started its construction in 1929.
It wouldn’t finish until 1933.
Besides having the largest half-dome in the western part of the world, it also has incredible architecture.
It features an art-deco style that makes the Union Terminal a National Historic Landmark.
While the station first served railroad passengers, it eventually ended up housing three different museums.
Today, it houses the Cincinnati Museum Center, the OMNIMAX theater, and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives.
The museum has both permanent exhibitions and traveling ones.
It also has the Children’s Museum, which has several exhibitions geared toward children.
These exhibits often have hands-on experiences that allow children to learn about something in a tactile way.
It makes the experience of the museum even more memorable.
The Museum of Natural History & Science is also part of the Cincinnati Museum Centre.
Altogether, the building sees an estimated 1.4 million visitors a year.
Besides offering exhibits to visitors, they also have several educational programs that parents can take advantage of.
Whether it’s signing your child up for a camp or planning a trip with your school, it has tons of different features for everyone.
The Cincinnati Museum Centre is one of the biggest cultural icons of the city.
3. The Cincinnati Art Museum
Another cultural icon of Cincinnati is the Cincinnati Art Museum.
The current art museum exists thanks in large part to women.
It was the Women’s Art Museum Association that pushed the city to open up its own art museum.
This all took place in the late 1800s.
At this point, art museums were still a relatively new thing.
However, an art museum in Cincinnati seemed a perfect fit since the city housed several artists.
Eventually, the Women’s Art Museum Associated gained enough funding to move forward with the plan to build an art museum.
The first building was in Eden’s Park and opened its doors in 1886.
Almost 5,000 people visited it.
One major milestone that occurred in the museum’s history was when the Art Academy of Cincinnati joined it.
Initially, the Art Academy was part of the University of Cincinnati.
However, it found a better home within the art museum.
The control of the school was eventually given to the Cincinnati Museum Association in 1884.
The Association would continue to control the school for over a century.
Several new wings opened over the museum’s history.
To attract more children to the museum, it also started offering painting classes.
In a nod to Cincinnati’s own nickname, the museum is sometimes called The Art Palace of the West.
The museum continues to showcase art from across the country, and the world, to this day.
The Cincinnati Art Museum remains a place where people can view and discuss various styles and mediums of art.
4. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Like the symphony, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has a very old history.
It got its start in 1875.
That makes the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden the second-oldest zoo in the United States.
Thanks to its history, it’s also made a name for itself with its success in breeding animals in captivity.
This is something many zoos struggle with because they have to replicate the conditions that the animals rely on for breeding.
Without those conditions, it puts too much stress on the animals.
Because of its success with breeding rare or endangered animals, the Cincinnati Zoo often works with other international zoos to offer advice and help.
It’s looked to as one of the experts in captive breeding.
Despite its reputation today, originally, the zoo had quite a humble collection.
It only had the following animals to show its visitors:
- Eight monkeys
- Two grizzly bears
- Three deer
- Six raccoons
- Two elk
- One buffalo
- One hyena
- One tiger
- One alligator
- One circus elephant
- 400+ birds
Those numbers changed with time.
Today, the zoo has over 500 animals, and a focus on plants as well.
It has over 3,000 plant species.
That makes the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden one of the biggest zoos in the country.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden also has its own education program.
It takes on around 300,000 students each year for a four-year college prep program.
Along with showcasing animals and plants, the zoo offers educational services on conservation and serving one’s community.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is one of the reasons why Cincinnati has a reputation for being a cultural center.
Cincinnati has the nickname the Queen City because of its focus on culture.
It has several cultural buildings like art museums, history museums, symphony houses, and zoos which serve to educate and entertain the general public.
All of these institutions make Cincinnati a beacon of culture and hence a Queen City.NEXT: Why Is Seattle Called The Emerald City? (Explained)