30 April 2008

Commitment In A City

On the streets we two pass.
I do not know you.
I did not see
if you are -

If we should pass again
within the hour,
I would not know it.
Yet -
I am committed to
love you.

You are part of my city,
my universe, my being.
If you were not here
to pass me by,
a piece would be missing
from my jigsaw-puzzle day.

-Mararet Tsuda

From a children's book: This Place I Know, Poems of Comfort

Model Looking to Develop Foreclosed Buildings

Model Management has become one of the largest property owners in Over-the-Rhine, and I am always wondering what they are up to. This article, in a national trade magazine is about the foreclosure problem in the Midwest and how some developers like Model are trying to finance the rehab of these foreclosed properties. They fund these projects by syndicating Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and bundle them with Historic Tax Credits. I have never exactly understood how this funding is bundled and syndicated, but it is a mechanism that gets lots of historic buildings rehabbed into low-income housing.

I left the paragraphs in at the bottom about Cleveland, because I was shocked by the huge numbers of foreclosures and abandonned buildings:
Midwest HFAs Focus on Foreclosures
In March, The Model Group finished construction on Magnolia Heights, an 18-building, 98-unit scattered site redevelopment in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. All units were Sec. 8 properties, and the work was done in conjunction with 42 market-rate condominiums that The Model Group was renovating in the same neighborhood.

“As the neighborhood started to gentrify we saw that the affordable housing stock was at risk,” Smith said. “We were able to use LIHTCs as an economic stimulus tool for the neighborhood and partner with some local community development corporations (3CDC) to do market-rate condos at the same time.”

Magnolia Heights was financed with $10 million in LIHTC equity and $2.3 million in historic tax credits. ...

The Model Group owned all 98 units in Magnolia Heights. But a scattered-site development of foreclosed properties is a more challenging proposition. Developers would need to negotiate with many different lenders to get the units out of foreclosure— basically developing one unit at a time—and some would likely have to be bought outright.

“The best thing would be if the city were to foreclose on those properties and somehow get them back through a landbank process,” said Jack Kukura, OCCH’s chief of acquisitions. Such a land bank, a fund which the city or county could use to buy foreclosed properties, could make it easier for developers to execute a scattered- site redevelopment of abandoned homes.


Ground zero for Ohio’s foreclosure problems is Cuyahoga County, where county Treasurer Jim Rokakis is working on a different kind of land-bank proposal. Cuyahoga County had about 15,500 foreclosure filings in 2007, up from around 13,500 the year before. The county is on track to see another 15,000-plus foreclosure filings again in 2008. And the foreclosure crisis has spread out to Cleveland suburbs like Euclid and Cleveland Heights, which contain about 1,200 and 900 foreclosed vacant properties, respectively.

Until recently, Ohio was one of only two states ... that had no regulatory oversight of the appraisal industry...

Cuyahoga County is hoping to stop the blight by creating a local land bank that would allow it to purchase vacant properties for demolition. “We’ve got 10,000 properties that need to be demolished,” Rokakis said. “They’ve been gutted, stripped, and vandalized, and we have to get them down.”

Corinthian and Fries with Vines


29 April 2008

Branching Patterns of Street Trees

An example below of a nice effect on Republic Street. However they are placed haphazardly, and I am not so fond of this species. Many of these Chinese Elms were planted in Cincinnati in the 1980s and 1990s. They were seen as a possible replacement for the American Elm, and they are very hardy. However, they are kinda short and stumpy, and in my opinion, not a great looking street tree. They seem to branch kinda low, and the branches seem to be bunched together. I think the Honey Locust, with its wide branching pattern is a better choice, among others.


Taller trees are better for even tight streets IMO. Taller trees in NYC:

Sycamore, or London Plane trees in Portland. These are the ideal street tree IMO if there is enough space, although sometimes they can also be found on very tight streets:

Not sure of the species here:

Fat David

Are we more like the Romans and less like the Renaissance Florentines (for whom Michelangelo sculpted David)?

Is our treasury in debt and are our armies over-extended like Rome in the 4th century? ...Or like 15th century Florence, are we developing skilled trades, critical thinking, humanistic arts, and expanding our influence through peaceful commerce?

Or am I reading too much into an advertising campaign that is trying to get people like me off their duff? Image found here.

Another Portland Post

This time not about streetcars.

I just saw a 21 minute video by the CBC, advocating that the city of Victoria replicate the successful Housing First program that Portland, OR has implemented. The plan is a 10 year plan to end homelessness.

Although kinda long, the video is worth a look for the human dimension and the snapshots of the transitional housing buildings.

28 April 2008

City Journal New Urbanist Critique

City Journal article about New Urbanists tells them to quit talking about global warming and be cool. By being cool, she means: get the buy-in from the community and work at transforming community from the bottom up (as opposed to working from the top by changing zoning or lending rules for example):

The New Urbanism and suburban sprawl have something in common: they’re uncool. New Urbanism is uncool because it is basically traditional; modernism is still the thing in architecture...

Why all the worry about what’s cool? ...In many ways it’s a conservative approach to building communities, which probably accounts for its not being in fashion.
... “there’s no indication that the system of building in this country is even dented.” In other words, sprawl still reigns, and so do the sundry forms of architectural dysfunction afflicting the nation’s public realm. The New Urbanists have changed the conversation, but they haven’t changed the world. At least, not yet.
Modernist construction... is typically a matter of reduced up-front construction costs and elevated maintenance costs. (It’s pretty much the same story in the subdivisions, where construction of ordinary tract houses and McMansions alike has become increasingly shoddy.) New Urbanists ... are entirely correct to speak of the ... solidly crafted, and enduring classical architecture as “frugal.” Truly frugal and indeed “sustainable” architecture involves making buildings that people will love for many years to come.

If the New Urbanists are to fulfill their movement’s vast potential as a force for cultural renewal, though, they must do a better job of addressing the public.

...(NUrbanists are) indifferent to the ways in which sprawl is deeply rooted in the American experience, especially the postwar experience of fabulous material progress. The supercilious attitude ....toward the American way of life—which sprawl has epitomized for some time, like it or not—is easily taken for upper-middle-class snobbery. This simply reinforces the New Urbanists’ status as a yuppie cult.
...New Urbanists need to focus on a vision that supports the resurgence of an architectural culture—which is precisely what we haven’t got now. Sprawl, generally speaking, is a utilitarian phenomenon with minimal artistic value. It does not involve vision. Its practical advantages, as embraced by millions of Americans, are real, but from a design standpoint it represents unculture...

...As for sprawl, you don’t have to be losing sleep over rising sea levels to regard it as a deeply problematic habitat, or even an ecologically wasteful and objectionable one.

.... Our system... takes no account of the developer of vision who looks beyond the investment cycle to build on the best of our civic-art heritage...

...New Urbanism should not operate as a top-down phenomenon, but as a locally oriented movement that builds from the bottom up. Even if it became politically feasible, attempts to mainstream New Urbanism by bureaucratic diktat...would simply turn New Urbanism into mass-market kitsch...

... building a community cannot be a libertarian exercise... you would need a founder—a leader ... Such a leader would have the guts to scorn the bureaucratic minutiae of “process” politics and stake his authority and prestige on a principled judgment: “This is how we should build here.” Grounded in vision and culture, such leadership could build a community for future generations informed by the noble achievements of the past. ...

The New Urbanists... need to... focus on the formidable task of cultivating political leaders across the ideological spectrum who have the gumption to redeem the nation’s urban landscape—one community at a time.

Beaver Poop

Burnett Woods. Cement Slide and newly renovated (re-opened last summer) Trailside Nature Center:

Inside is a small, but fun Wolf Planetarium, and some nature displays such as this:

27 April 2008

Cutter Street Fire

Fire in City West a few months ago:

25 April 2008

Family Sunday at the CAC

Family Sunday, this Sunday, April 27, 1-4 pm
Sara M. & Patricia A. Vance Education Center: The UnMuseum®

April's Family Sunday celebrates a new UnMuseum® installation: The Colors in My Life / El color en mi vida by Chilean-born artist Trinidad Mac-Auliffe.

Experience an interactive lesson on color theory with Mac-Auliffe and put your knowledge to work.

Younger children will mix their own colors to finger paint.

Older children will design landscapes and portraits in the colors that they see in the world and themselves.

Enjoy refreshments and a colorful cake courtesy of Take the Cake.

Members: Free. Nonmembers: CAC admission. Space is limited.
Please RSVP with Andrea Blake: 513 345 8434 or ablake at cacmail dot org

Family Sunday is where CAC families use current and upcoming exhibitions to inspire learning and creativity through guided artmaking activities. This program is designed for children ages 5-105.

Chess Club

I continue to be impressed with our son's Cincinnati Public School education. One extracurricular activity they offer is chess club for Kindergartners and up. The teacher is excellent, and they really hype it up with trophies and all.

There are tons of chess websites out there. One that the school recommended was a great blog, by Susan Polger, inspiration to many girl chess players.

This stood out to me on her Wikipedia page:
Polgar and her two younger sisters .... were part of an educational experiment carried out by their father László Polgár, who sought to prove that children could make exceptional achievements if trained in a specialist subject from a very early age. "Geniuses are made, not born," was László's thesis. He and his wife Klara educated their three daughters at home, with chess as the specialist subject. The father also taught his three daughters Esperanto.

Now doesn't that make you feel like an under-achieving parent?


Fountain Square Lunch Hour

A couple photos of lunch time on Fountain Square a few days ago (earth day?).

Sitting on Steps. Would more seating be better, or is improvising OK?

Laughing and smoking:

Didn't get any photos of the Green Fashion Show. Dan, at Park + Vine is really getting the word out about his products though.

24 April 2008

Deveroes vs Bass Pro

These two stores are similar, and opposite. Bass sells rural identity, whereas Deveroes sells urban identity.

They sell conspicuous consumption, and I feel condescending when I think about it that way, but actually, I have the same need to display my consumption. I just have better taste!(sarcasm)

Bass Pro Empty; the stuffed animals and empty parking spaces, awaiting the hordes:

I heard from a friend that read my Cincinnati Mills article, that Bass Pro Shop, which is one of the largest tenants at the mall is considering a move further-out, to a stand-alone location on I71, near Lebanon. They apparently want a site with a pond (so you can float your boat before you buy it, I guess), and a site that is more central to their customer base.

A strip mall comes to the city. The Deveroes and two rinky stores in Camp Washington near the freeway exit:

At least Deveroes keeps a store in the city. Does Bass have a store in the Smokies?:

Could we get a Bass Pro at Broadway Commons?

Owning vs Renting while Exurb Homes Lose Value

An NPR story about home prices declining in exurban DC compared to rising prices closer-in has been generating some debate online. Here are some excerpts from the original story:

...At a recent auction of foreclosed homes north of Washington, in the Maryland suburbs, there weren't many takers. All of the addresses are far from downtown, and average commute times are among the highest in the nation.

...Inside the city, median home prices are actually up 3.5 percent from a year ago.

...The longer the commute, the steeper the drop in prices.

....buyers are now asking different questions: "What is the cost of gasoline? What is the cost of my time?"

One of the responses on the Freakonomics Blog about this subject seemed insightful:
....making a correlation between housing prices and transit proximity and then leaping to conclusions about gas prices is a bit of a stretch. It’s just too easy, and the most obvious result of a gas price crunch would be a _huge_ increase in the purchase of small cars. Buying a new car is much easier than moving!

Are the areas around transit tend to be more heavily dominated by rental housing? Is the rental market more insulated from foreclosures than owner-occupied market? Are there other links between owner and renter occupied housing that might be playing into this? What about the sort of employment people in urban cores have, compared to suburbanites? Are their key industries doing better or worse? Is transit ridership up or down?

What about cities with nice urban areas and inferior public transit? Are they seeing the same pattern…larger real estate price declines in the suburbs?

My guess is demographics and shifts of perception are _much_ bigger factors than gas prices. People in my parents’ cohort who lived through the ‘67 riots wouldn’t even consider moving into a big city, while none of my peers are particularly keen on moving out to the suburbs.

Rental housing is too often seen as a negative in this country. Everyone is taught that homeownership is a panacea to poverty and social ills, when it isn't. Rental housing does not necessarily destabilize neighborhoods. Actually a mix of owners and renters is best, IMO. We have many neighbors who have been renters their entire life, often living in the same apartment on the same street for dozens of years. Heck, I was a renter for 20 years!

See this article: Homeownership Ideologues:
....folks ... push the ideology of homeownership as an end itself. They insist on lavish government subsidies, even in situations where homeownership is not a good solution for the people affected.

....If a homeowner takes out a 7 percent mortgage ...pays 1 percent of the value in property tax each year, and another 1 percent for insurance and maintenance, then ownership costs are equal to 9 percent of the sale price. If the house sells for 20 times annual rent, then this family is paying 80 percent more in housing costs as homeowners each year than they would pay as renters. If the house was selling for 25 times the annual rent, then the family would be paying 125 percent more as homeowners than they would as renters.

...Incredibly, instead of acknowledging their mistake, the homeownership ideologues want the government to throw even more money at homeownership. (The money is more likely to end up with bankers than homeowners, as I have argued elsewhere.)

One last point. I saw in the paper, that one estimate (admittedly, the higher of several) for the reconfiguration of the I-75 Tylersville exit is $100 million. This caught my eye because it is similar to the cost of the proposed downtown streetcar loop.

When new housing construction in Butler County has slowed to a crawl, and when regional population growth is minimal, should the taxpayers continue to fund the massive expansion of this intersection, which 20 years ago was cornfields? Heck, half the people who have moved out there vacated the west side of Cincinnati. Why are taxpayers subsidizing this redistribution of people?

23 April 2008

Life Between Buildings

The following is a quote from a book I just checked out from the library. It is out of print and the library copy is a paperback with the pages falling out. The photos are also from the book.
The opportunity to see and hear other people in a city ... offer(s) valuable information about the surrounding social environment...

This is especially true in connection with the social development of children, which is largely based on observations of the surrounding social environment, but all of us need to be kept up to date about the surrounding world in order to function in social context.


Through the mass media we are informed about the larger, more sensational world events, but by being with others we learn about the more common but equally important detail. We discover how others work, behave, and dress, and we obtain knowledge about the people we work with, live with, and so forth. By means of all this information, we establish a confidential relationship with the world around us. A person we have often met on the street becomes a person we "know".


In addition to imparting information about the social world outside, the opportunity to see and hear other people can also provide ideas and inspiration for action.

We are inspired by seeing others in action. Children, for example, see other children at play and get the urge to join in, or they get ideas for new games by watching other children or adults.


The trend from living to lifeless cities and residential areas that has accompanied industrialization, segregation of various city functions, and reliance on the automobile also has caused cities to become duller and more monotonous. This points up another important need, namely the need for stimulation:

Experiencing other people represents a particularly colorful and attractive opportunity for stimulation. Compared with experiencing buildings and other inanimate objects, experiencing people, who speak and move about, offers a wealth of sensual variation. No moment is like the previous or the following when people circulate among people. The number of new situations and new stimuli is limitless. Furthermore, it concerns the most important subject in life: people.

Living in cities, therefore, ones in which people can interact with one another, are always stimulating because they are rich in experiences, in contrast to lifeless cities, which can scarcely avoid being poor in experiences and thus dull, no matter how many colors and variations of shape in buildings are introduced.
Wherever there are people ... it is generally true that people and human activities attract other people. People are attracted to other people. They gather with and move about with others and seek to place themselves near others. New activities begin in the vicinity of events that are already in progress.


In the home we can see that children prefer to be where there are adults or where there are other children, instead of, for example, where there are only toys. In residential areas and in city spaces, comparable behavior among adults can be observed. If given a choice between walking on a deserted or a lively street, most people will choose the lively street. If the choice is between sitting in a private backyard or in a semiprivate front yard with a view of the street, people will often choose the front of the house where there is more to see.

Both in areas with single-family houses and in apartment house surroundings, children tend to play more on the streets, in parking areas, and near the entrances of dwellings than in the play areas designed for that purpose but located in backyards of single family houses or on the sunny side of multi-story buildings where there are neither traffic nor people to look at.

-Life Between Buildings, Jan Gehl 1971

22 April 2008

Highway Bias

The New Republic has a blog post about the inequitable funding system of different transit methods:

...the federal government usually covers about 80-90 percent of the costs for a new highway project, compared with only 50 percent of the costs for a transit system. Local communities have to pick up most of the rest of the tab for public transportation, with state governments chipping in what's left. Since doing that usually requires raising property taxes, most local governments just prefer to build highways....

...transit projects have to undergo intensive scrutiny: a cost-benefit analysis, a land-use analysis, an environmental-impact analysis, and, usually, a detailed comparison among various alternatives. That all sounds pretty reasonable, except that highway projects don't have to undergo any of this....

Not surprisingly, most communities find it far easier to build new highways than to set up, say, a light-rail system....

Talk about infrastructure being underfunded, McCain and now Clinton are proposing we get rid of the gasoline tax for three months! Yeh, don't worry about repairing those old bridges....

Great Article in Soapbox

A great aricle in Soapbox this week about raising kids downtown. I won't reprint any of it here, you've got to read it.

No TGI's in the Colerain Fire

A firefighter familiar with the investigation into the fire at Squirrelsnest Lane, says that the house did not have the TGI floor joists as I guessed in an earlier post. The floor had conventional 2x10s and they are unsure why it collapsed so early in the fire. Solid lumber like this should take more than 5-10 minutes to burn enough to collapse. Now it probably was exposed to the basement, and not protected by any drywall, and I saw in the Enquirer article that the fire started in a cedar closet which could have fueled the fire. They did have working smoke detectors, but I am not sure if they had them in the basement. I am also not sure if the homeowners delayed calling 911 which could have allowed the fire to get further along.

21 April 2008

Factory Tours

When I was a kid, I distinctly remember our school class touring Procter and Gamble to see soap being made and packaged. I also remember going to the factory where my dad worked and seeing huge stamping machines and the men, die-makers with their work aprons covered in fine metal shavings. It is good for kids to see how things are made. Unfortunately P&G doesn't do tours anymore, but there are lots of other factories that offer tours. Check out this site to find a list of factory tours across the country. Nearby are things like the Toyota factory in Georgetown, KY and the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, OH. The car factory could make a good scout or school field trip.

Son Says Black

In our son's elementary school, they don't describe people as black or white. And I suppose it's not something that comes up much at home. So it has been interesting to hear my son describe his classmates. He notices a lot, but has no preconceived notions about those observations.

For example when describing an older teacher at school, he didn't say she was old, instead he said she had "lines around her mouth". Or when talking about a black classmate, he would say he noticed how she talked rather than that her skin was brown.

So last week, I heard him describe someone as "black" for the first time. Before that he might say that so and so was "tan" or describe some other aspect of the kid, such as braided hair.

We did hear one black classmate describe a family as "peach", which my wife and I thought was funny. And just yesterday I found myself explaining to my son not to assume that a person was "Chinese", because of their looks.

He got until age 7 before he learned these descriptors. So far however, I don't think the terms have any baggage. Maybe it will never come.

Well, we can hope. So far, I'm pretty optimistic.

Opera Family Series

We attended a fantastic event at Memorial Hall this weekend. The Cincinnati Opera had a Family Performance of The Barber of Seville. It was in English and shortened to 45 minutes. The 4 member cast was engaging and talented. Can kids enjoy opera? If presented in the right way, yes:


Every time we go to Memorial Hall, I am suprised by another detail. Below is a crappy cell phone photo of a room off the upper balcony, which is meant as a lounge. It has one of those lounge chairs that they used to have at the nurse's offic in elementary school, plus a wall-hung porcelain sink and a simple table and chair. It all appears original.


I've also noticed that all of the spaces in Memorial Hall have lots of natural light and that they have dual gas/electric light fixtures in the stairways. Just a fascinating building all around.

I'm not sure when the next family opera event is. I didn't find out about this one by word of mouth a few hours before it started. They definitely need to publicize this better.

20 April 2008

Green Cupcakes

Park + Vine booth at Earth Day celebration at Sawyer Point. The giant paint can is a new environmentally sound paint product they will soon start carrying:

And Dan had some green cupcakes:

I also liked this booth next to Park + Vine. True to her name, she even brought her own booth:

Sand volleyball court or a large sandbox for kids?

19 April 2008

More Vacant Buildings


[1532, 1534, 1536 Republic Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

18 April 2008

Cincinnati Mills Empty

I had to go to the Cincinnati Mills Mall (former Forest Fair Mall) last week. I'm sure this is old news to many people, but the place was completely deserted on a weekday lunch hour. The food court below, which could seat hundreds, had less than a dozen people in it:

They also had a Starbucks in the center atrium, and the server there was reading a book. Actually most of the store clerks seemed to be reading books.

We have way too much retail space in this country.

In a related story, a homeless man is convicted in Akron for living in a vacant portion of a mall.

Did You Feel the Earthquake?

My wife was awakened by the quake this morning. I slept right through. I guess brick buildings shake too..

Qualls a Green New Urbanist

New Urbanists are somewhat split between those who consider themselves modernist and those that prefer traditional architecture and design. There are further divisions in this movement, for example, some favor rehabilitation of existing cities and buildings and some favor new development.

Some members of the Congress for the New Urbanism have been proponents of adding Green issues to the CNU Charter. Traditionalists have been skeptical of this, saying that traditionally designed cities and buildings are inherently green and sustainable.

Cincinnati Councilmember, Roxanne Qualls is a proponent of the green movement. A group was formed and met late last year in DC to draft principles or "canons" that would be presented to the annual CNU meeting in April 2008.

At the annual meeting in Austin, Texas, on April 5th, Roxanne became one of the first signers of the Canons of Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism.

here is a PDF file of the canons.

17 April 2008

Brick House Example

Last week I had a post about stone and brick buildings. I was saying that they can be fixed-up for a reasonable price. Some readers may have been skeptical. Well, it just so happened that this past weekend, I attended a celebration of completion of such a project.

I know the owner of this building, and consider him a friend. He is a very intelligent and very hard working family man. He had been looking for a vacant building to rehab for a few years, and finally found this one. He did some research, contacted the owners and purchased it. It had been used as a storage building by Southern Ohio Glass Co. for several decades. During that time, it did not have any heat or electricity, and the roof and windows were leaking. So the building was in pretty rough shape, and it was completely full of junk.

My friend's budget was quite low, so he put lots of sweat equity into the rehab. There were many delays and unexpected costs in the permitting and construction process. However in the end, he got a 3,000 square foot, 4-story brick home with a small backyard for under a very reasonable cost. I don't know the exact expenses, and maybe he doesn't either, but I am sure purchase and rehab combined was half or less of a new suburban house. And the interior is very modern and clean. It turned out very nice.

Some before photos:

Front entry stairs during demolition and clean up phase:

Attic before:

Exterior before:

Finished Exterior:

I didn't take any interior photos, because it was packed with people, and it is a private residence after all.

However, he is one of the first people in this block to rehab. From Republic Street you can see the rear of 1511, 1515, and 1517 Vine Street. They are in pretty rough shape. I have been watching the one in the middle and lately some of the rear brick wall has collapsed:

[Where: 1510 Republic Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

16 April 2008

Graphs, Pie Charts and the Economy

Some random graphs and charts from divergent sources that point to trouble.

The first one, from Business Week magazine, shows that Americans' borrowing has drastically increased since 2000:


The second graph shows total vehicle miles travelled by all Americans. I cannot remember where I found this graph. Is this continual increase sustainable?


So I was thinking, I would like to see a graph that shows the percentage of increasing of Americans' budget that goes to transportation. Well I didn't really find that, but two days ago, the Overhead Wire posts about the Affordability Index. These pie charts show typical household expenses in different types of neighborhoods. They combine housing with transportation which gives a different spin on car dependency. Interesting:


Then finally, I thought I'd throw this graph in for fun. The US budget and where it goes:

Then this shows a close up of that 18%, everything else. Notice how transportation is 2%:

Yesterday I heard Kevin Phillips on NPR in the morning. The summary of his interview would be something like this (not a quote) "America increasingly relies on Wall Street and financial sector to create wealth, in lieu of it's industrial base, all the while spending money we don't have on a bad war in a bad place. And as our infrastructure crumbles, China is furiously building infrastructure and industry for the next century".

Food for thought.

Choices Cafe

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH) has opened a small coffeehouse on Elm Street. I heard from my neighbors that it was good, and I tried to go, but they were not open last Saturday, I think because they had this night-time event schedueled with Jake Speed. The hours are posted as 8-5 M-Sat. I like low-key places like this. Just a few tables and coffee and sodas. Let me know if you've gone and what you think:

1500 Elm Street Building:

Front Door:


Odd Building on Pleasant

Perma-stone, a cement-based fake stone product was often used in the 30s-50's to cover old buildings. This one may have deserved being covered. Very odd one-story building with side porch in a neighborhood with 3 and 4 story buildings:

14 April 2008

9yr Old Alone in City

An opinion letter in the NY Sun last week is by a woman who left her nine year old boy to self-navigate his way home alone, using the subway and walking in NYC. Interesting read:

Anyway, for weeks my boy had been begging for me to please leave him somewhere, anywhere, and let him try to figure out how to get home on his own. So on that sunny Sunday I gave him a subway map, a MetroCard, a $20 bill, and several quarters, just in case he had to make a call.

I think about this kind of thing more each year. At what age can a kid be left to walk to the corner store, ride a city bus, or walk to the public library alone?

I guess I'll know the time when it comes.

“Parents are in the grip of anxiety and when you’re anxious, you’re totally warped,” the author of “A Nation of Wimps,” Hara Estroff Marano, said. We become so bent out of shape over something as simple as letting your children out of sight on the playground that it starts seeming on par with letting them play on the railroad tracks at night. In the rain. In dark non-reflective coats.

The problem with this everything-is-dangerous outlook is that over-protectiveness is a danger in and of itself. A child who thinks he can’t do anything on his own eventually can’t.

Urban Homestead Bill

Not sure why this Urban Homestead Bill which has been developing in the State legislature for the past year, has gotten no ink in Cincinnati.

The Bill is not being touted as a way to improve education but rather a way to help revitalize cities. That's one problem, but the other is that it appears to only help homeowners. What about renters? Another goofy part of the bill allows the use of these tax dollars for the hiring of private security. I understand the intention, but this seems way off base and I believe it would also be ineffectual. I mean, why not improve the existing schools and improve the existing police force? It feels like they are trying to establish suburban type enclaves in the city.

Schools and crime send many urban dwellers to the suburbs.

Attempting to reverse that trend, a Republican state legislator from Hilliard is pushing legislation that would give qualifying home buyers in blighted areas of Columbus and seven other Ohio cities vouchers to send their children to private schools and allow the families to hire private security for the neighborhood.

"I have lots of friends who moved to German Village, got married, and the first kid comes along, and boom, they move to the suburbs," said Rep. Larry Wolpert, who has dubbed House Bill 26 the "Urban Homestead Bill."

"It's crime and education. Those are the two reasons they leave."

Some education groups oppose the proposal.

What Wolpert sees as an effort to revitalize Ohio's urban centers, critics complain represents another effort to undermine public schools by using tax dollars to send students to private schools.

"House Bill 26 takes a counterproductive approach to urban revitalization by seeking to help cities at the expense of public schools," said Matthew Dotson of the Ohio Education Association, the state's largest teachers union and a leading opponent of voucher programs.

Wolpert said it's difficult to tackle urban blight and revitalization without addressing schools. "This is not a voucher bill; it's a bill to revitalize our urban core," he said.
A revised version of the bill, under review in a House committee, would allow city residents to create an "urban homestead zone" where residents have spent at least $120,000 to buy a house or at least $40,000 to renovate one.

Part of their property taxes would finance the private-school vouchers. Families living in the zone also would have the opportunity to assess themselves for security beyond the local police force.
Wolpert said that unlike other efforts to build lofts and other Downtown housing best suited for singles and childless couples, his plan is intended to help families with youngsters...

Here is an article that supports the legislation.

Terry's Turf Club

Being a native westsider and dedicated downtowner, Beechmont levy levee is just about as far east as I get on an average week. And since it is spring soccer season and the Otto Armleder Soccer fields are over there, we have been over there often lately. We found a good place to stop after the games.

Terry Carter, the collector of neon and former owner of Neon's in OTR, opened this bar/restaurant 14 months ago, but all we knew before we went was that Shadeau Bread sells hundreds of kaiser rolls to this place every week. Turns out they use so many buns, because this is the kind of eatery in which everything is served on a bun, including shrimp and there is nary a fork in the building.

Despite being firstly a bar, there were several families 7:30pm on a Friday, then again on Sunday afternoon. Hamburgers and grilled fish (on a bun) are each $6, and fries are $3. The burgers are tops.



Factory across street:

Otherway up street:

Burger Beer sign:

Barber shop sign:


Reflections in glass looking out:

Crowded with 40 customers, furnace sitting in the room, friendly, loud din, not handicapped accessible, not vegetarian friendly, free peanuts, not downtown, eastside, but westsiders ok, scribbled handwitten tab, good beer, canned sodas, all prices are even dollar, no coinage below quarters used, paper plates, $30 plus tip for 4 people.

[where: 4618 Eastern Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45226]