31 July 2008

Crime and Vouchers Redux

A liberal retort to the Atlantic article a few weeks ago that claimed a link between Section 8 vouchers and spreading crime. I linked to the original article here. After reading both articles, I really don't think they disagree as much as they purport. Both see the old "projects' as largely problematic and also believe support of some kind must follow the vouchers. The new article points out that there is no evidence that the actual voucher recipients are the criminals, and also points out that the poor economy in cities like Memphis are the more likely culprit.

Movie on Square this Saturday

I think we will be going to Fountain Square for the movie Aladdin Jumanji. If anyone wants to meet up with kids, send me an email.

The rest of the season:
Aug 2 Jumanji, The Mummy
Aug 9 Karate Kid, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Aug 16 Stuart Little, Mrs. Doubtfire
Aug 23 Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Aug 30 The Iron Giant, Transformers
Sept 6 Rudy, We Are Marshall
The website says movies start at 7:30, but I swear they start at 7:00.

30 July 2008

Misc Pics

Some miscellaneous pics from travels last week to Massachusetts:

compact travel vehicles:

a typical Greek Revival house:

fishing boots:

windswept beach:

inside a fort:

National Day of Mourning Plaque at Plymouth Rock:

Improved Order of Red Men, 1921, also at Plymouth:

City Moms Returning to Workforce

A new book argues that city moms have an easier time returning to the workforce, mainly because they have eliminated one big barrier, the commute.

29 July 2008

Mixed Neighborhood Elusive but Possible

From Chicago:
...traditionally diverse neighborhoods ... are remarkable because they've managed to thrive as diverse communities for decades, becoming neither slums nor totally gentrified as others have...

Community groups that push for affordable housing and good health care, schools and jobs are paramount to maintaining neighborhood diversity...

..."So often when we talk about gentrification, we think it's going to homogenize, but in the first stages, it can actually diversify the neighborhood,"...

Such diversity can be temporary, as rising housing costs tend to push people out...

..."it's important for our country to have those kinds of spaces where people can rub elbows."

Who Concert Headlines

29 years ago this month, I was 14 years old, and attended my first rock concert. It was at the Coliseum and it was "festival" seating. I am too embarrassed to name the band I saw (hint Judas Priest warmed-up). However, at that age I also read the newspaper every day. I saved a few clippings from what I considered significant headlines that year. A few months after my first concert, the Who came to town. Here is the first in a series of my 1979-1980 newspaper clippings:

28 July 2008

Savage Autism Quote

I'll tell you what autism is, In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.

-Michael Savage, right wing radio host July, 16th.

...I can't believe shows like this have listeners.

Another Reason our Debt Keeps Growing

According to Harper's Index:

"Number of Iraqis who receive regular payments from the U.S. government in exchange for not fighting: 91,600"

Magnolia Heights

An article in Affordable Housing Finance, a trade publication covers Model's rehabs in OTR:
...People passing through the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood have a hard time distinguishing a $300,000 condo from a unit that rents for 35 percent of the area median income, thanks to The Model Group.

... 500 of the neighborhood’s 1,200 buildings were left vacant.

...“By the time we got done rehabbing the affordable units, the blighted structures in the neighborhood were the vacant ones,” said Smith. “We were able to acquire those vacant buildings and achieve stabilization in the neighborhood without any displacement of low-income housing.”

27 July 2008

The Prince of Frogtown

In water so fine, a few minutes of bad memory all but disappear downstream, washed by ten thousand belly busters, a million cannonballs. Paradise was never heaven-high when I was a boy but waist-deep, an oasis of cutoff bluejeans and raggedy Converse sneakers, sweating bottles of Nehi Grape and Orange Crush, and this stream. I remember the antidote of icy water against my blistered skin, and the taste of mushy tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches, unwrapped from twice-used aluminum foil. I saw my first water moccasin here, and my first real girl, and being a child of the foot washers, I have sometimes wondered if this was my Eden, and my serpent. If it was, I didn't hold out any longer than that first poor fool did. It took something as powerful as that, as girls, to tug me away from this tribe of sunburned little boys, to scatter us from this place of double-dog dares, Blow Pops, Cherry bombs, Indian burns, chicken fights, and giggling, half-wit choruses of "Bald-Headed Man from China." Maybe we should have nailed up a sign _NO GIRLS ALLOWED- and lived out our lives here, to fight mean bulls from the safe side of a barbed-wire fence with a cape cut from a red tank top, and duel to the death with swords sliced off a weeping willow tree. I don't know what kind of man I turned out to be, but I was good at being a boy. Then, a thrust to the heart only bent against my chest, in a place where I could look straight into the Alabama sun through a water-smoothed nugget of glass, and tell myself it was a shipwrecked emerald instead of just a piece from a broken bottle of Mountain Dew.

-first paragraph of a great summer read, a book all about fathers and sons.... "The Prince of Frogtown" by Rick Bragg

26 July 2008

Self Segregation and Public Spaces

An unfinished thought... Of course people self segregate, but a successful public arena allows everyone to be seen and respectfully heard.

relevant site: The Big Sort

Just 4 Kids Consignment

Just passing along:
2 day consignment sale just for kids will be at the Drawbridge Inn on August 22nd and 23rd. ... We invite you to sell your own kids items (price them yourself and retain a minimum of 70%!!), or just to come and shop to find great deals for yourself! New and expectant mommies can apply for a pass to shop before the sale opens to the public. Volunteers also get pre-sale shopping opportunities! Please feel free to email with any questions. 4kidsconsignment@gmail.com

August 22 (Friday) 9:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.
August 23 (Saturday) 9:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M

Should Buildings Be Beautiful?

Just asking...

Why do you never hear and architectural critic talk about beauty?

25 July 2008

Before and After in Grand Rapids



...some before and after photos of the restoration ICCF did of the D. A. Blodgett building in Grand Rapids. Originally built as an orphanage, it later became a children's hospital, and received a horrible addition in the front in the 1950s that completely obliterated the portico. Working off historical photographs, ICCF restored the building to its 1909 condition, adding in some hidden green features like solar panels on the flat roof, a water-permeable parking lot, and a cistern that catches the rainwater from the roof and uses it for irrigating the courtyard plantings. They're applying for LEED gold certification.

ICCF is the Inner City Christian Federation, a collaboration between churches to deliver urban regeneration in Grand Rapids. The city has one of the first NU city planning ordinances in the country.

24 July 2008

23 July 2008

Abolish the Penny

For some reason, I am concerned about this mundane issue.

One solution to removal of the penny: make them worth 5 cents and quit minting nickels. Makes perfect cents.

We should abolish the penny. Make the nickel smaller than a dime. Shrink the quarter to nickel size, and quit printing paper one-dollar bills. The current dollar coins are too similar to the quarters, and no one uses them when paper is still offered.

Clothes in the Garbage


22 July 2008

Thanks Soapbox

Thanks for the mention, Soapbox. Unfortunately, this is my week off, and posts are pretty minimal. Search the archives or come back next week...thanks.

Red Paint Vandalism

Posted by Picasa

21 July 2008

20 July 2008


Via Just for View, I'm reading about this interesting guy who is all about DIY urbanism. Nowtopia.

19 July 2008

Sunset at Vine and 13th

Long summer evenings ...
This was a few weeks ago. Now this building has big holes in it and is under renovation.

18 July 2008

17 July 2008

The Place for Families

Saw this place in Northside, and I think I know some mothers who work here. Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center.

I have some posts scheduled for this week, but I will mostly be away from computers for the next week...

Channel 5 at Washington Park Pool

The 6pm news reported live from the pool right before the swim meet.

Dr. Merrifield is quoted as saying that the pool may not even be removed, at least for a long time. He is wrong, it may be removed this winter.

The 11pm news had a different segment, but I couldn't find it yet.

Some photos of the evening:

Before the meet:

8 and under, diving at the start of the breast stroke:

This girl from Mt. Washington Pool was very fast:

Little backstrokers about to start:

Jumping off the boards after the meet:

16 July 2008

Marieanne Khoury Vogt

New apartment building in New Jersey. I don't know much about the architect or this project, but from the photo it strikes me as very urban, timeless, non-modern:

After some googling, I found this, an interview with the architect, Marieanne Khoury-Vogt in her role as town architect, Alys Beach, FL.

And here is a night photo of the swimming pool that she did at Alys Beach:

15 July 2008

Invite to Swim Meet Weds

Everyone is welcome to come see the Washington Park kids swim against other pool teams Weds 6-7pm. People without pool passes can come into the pool area to watch the meet. Come and see the pride of these kids as they compete!

Obama Crowd on Fountain Square

Crowd Shots:

Kids on Shoulders:


All in fun, or are they sore losers?:

Bronze guy on snake watches Obama:

Cop and Tarbell:

Just married, very happy couple:

Arm in arm:

14 July 2008

The Velib

Good article on the bicycle rental system in Paris.

Advice from a Celibate Marriage Counselor

A great string of quotes in Maureen Dowd's column today: An Ideal Husband.

McCain Against Adoption by Gays

Since many of my neighbors have non-traditional families, this is relevant:
Q: How often do you go to church?
Mr. McCain: Um, not as often as I should. When Cindy and I are in Phoenix, we attend. We’ve been fortunate enough the last few weeks to be in Phoenix....
Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?
Mr. McCain: I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.
Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.
Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.
Q: But your concern would be that the couple should be a traditional couple
Mr. McCain: Yes.

Build New vs Rehab in OTR

Thinking out loud: Pendleton Glasshouse Condos and Dandridge Townhouses: compare and contrast.

In the recent past there were only a handful of people rehabbing multiple buildings in OTR, and they refined their methods over the years. Now there are many new builders deciding to give it a try, and some are making mistakes. And now we are seeing some of the first new construction in the neighborhood, and it is interesting to see what works and what doesn't.

Some of the new guys are people who were builders in the suburbs, and now that work is slow there, they have decided to try building in the city. I personally know one guy, Steve, who built hundreds of single family houses in Butler County. He is now finishing a project on Reading Road called Glasshouse Condos. This is a rehab of an existing factory type building into condos.

Recently I talked with Steve, and he has sold several and is rushing to finish all eleven units for the home tour in the Fall. Seems like they are doing OK, although they had a bit of a learning curve, because rehab of a historic multifamily condo is much different than building a new single family home. Their design provides one common outdoor rooftop space but did not have private outdoor space for each unit, and I think that may be turn out to be a big mistake. A private balcony no matter how small is important for condo buyers. However, rehabbing is more forgiving than building new, and they should be OK selling them.

In contrast, last week, Kevin, at Building Cincinnati reported that the Dandrige Townhouse project has halted work, and that the builder is... surprise... blaming the City for not helping. He also blames the market downturn. I think his project is a good learning lesson for newcomers.

Here is a drawing of the Dandridge Proposal:

Let me be clear, I have no inside information on this project. Most of what I know about this project, I know from this one drawing. However, I had concerns about this project as soon as I saw the drawing. You cannot build just anything in OTR and have it sell. Prominent garage doors, dryvit, and goofy boxes on the front were warning signs.

Many builders have a mindset that new is better, and that rehabbing is a major headache. This may be true, but rehabbing is much more forgiving of bad design.

The problems with new construction are several: windows are typically smaller, the materials are cheaper, and the rooms are boxier. People like old buildings. They like the unusual spaces created when they are renovated, and it is too expensive to replicate the quality of an old building in new construction. On top of all that, architects today have not been trained to build anything except modern looking buildings. Sometimes they try to build a traditional building, but it turns out to be very hard to do correctly. And time and time again, buyers reject modernism when buying their own house. In the suburbs buyers want neo-colonial, and in the city buyers prefer either a townhouse, or the loft look. Suburban drywall and vinyl crap will not sell here.

And think of this. The Dandridge project was proposing an entire street of the same townhouse. This is a problem because psychologically, people in OTR want something unique.

Now I am not saying that design faults led to the project's failure. I don't know that. What I am saying is that these faults indicate that the builder was an urban rookie. Being a rookie, other things such as litter and crime came as a surprise to him.

My guess is that he didn't know what his buyers wanted and he didn't know the difficulties that he would find trying to build here. Thus his utter surprise when he discovered that the Cincinnati Water Works wanted him to pay for a new water line on the street. He says his buyers were scared off by the neighborhood, but my guess is, he had the wrong buyers. Empty nesters who want security and garage parking are not going to buy on a small street hidden in the eastern corner of OTR. They want the riverfront, downtown or the hillside. Buyers here would be firstimers and non-traditional families.

The non-traditional family angle is important here. Smart developers have noticed that not every family consists of a mom, dad and 2 kids (or that same couple after the kids go to college). More and more homes are being bought by gay couples, siblings living together, divorcees, single parent households etc.

Builders would be smart to examine the buyer before attempting to build for them.

St Joseph of Nazareth Church

I never knew why there was this building on Liberty, with an inscription "Archdiocese Board of Education". What was the history here?

Well, I was talking to a neighbor a couple months ago, and she told me that she grew up going to a church at the corner of Elm and Liberty. She said it was a beautiful church, with marble pews. She also attended grade school at next door at this building, which was later used as Archdiosece offices:

I wasn't able to find a picture of the church, which was at the northwest corner of Elm and Liberty Streets, until a few days ago, when the Catholic Telegraph responded to my request and posted some information here. The photo is just of the door. This blog is starting to post some interesting photos, so you may want to give it a look.

Here is a quick description of the church:
Built in 1864 as St. Matthew German Evangelical Church under the guidance of Rev. Maurice Raschig, it became St. Joseph in 1919, a Hungarian-Catholic Church. Razed in 1963, the structure resembled Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. The former St. Joseph Grade School still stands at Liberty and Logan Streets NEC.
-Cincinnati: Over-the-Rhine by Robert J. Wimberg.

Here is a site plan from the Auditor's Office. The school site is two buildings to the west at Logan Street:

The gas-station, now temporary labor office at site of church:

If there is anyone out there who has any additional photos of the church, please let me know.

This whole corner is owned by the Smith Foundation, which seems to be doing nothing with them, except they did fix up the school a bit and have demolished a couple others.

[where: 1601-11 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202] Church Site
[where: 224 West Liberty, Cincinnati, OH 45202] School UPDATE Feb 17, 2015: Sanborn Map of the Area

12 July 2008

Discontent and Disconnected

Came across this post from a mom, disgruntled at where she finds herself in her suburban life. Yesterday her post was much longer, (and much more pro-Chicago and anti-Cleveland), but she apparently had second thoughts and shortened it.

...I am having a difficult time living life from the sidelines of manicured suburban Ohio lawns. I would desperately trade in each one of my thousand feet of living for a tiny slice of city. I want to be closer to my family, I want my children to be more than just visitors in the city. Our house here is obnoxiously big and incredibly beautiful and picture perfect in every way. But I feel as if life is passing me by so fast.

I think there are more city wannabees out there than we know.

11 July 2008

Don't Postpone Joy

An optimist lives in Northside:

Fuel Theft

Last month, as gas prices were skyrocketing, I witnessed my first gasoline theft. The cashier just shook her head as a man drove off with $80 of unpaid gas. I talked with the cashier, and she said that it has been happening more, and that it is always young men. She said, she will be standing there, looking at them, even make eye contact as they are filling. Then, when she is checking out another customer, suddenly they drive off.

Now I am seeing more stories like this: a man with an 800 gallon tank in his pickup truck, stealing gasoline from gas stations. What will we see when prices get up to $5?

A similar story.

I see now that the Democratic Response to the Drill More campaign is to blame speculators for the high prices. I got an email from Delta a few days ago urging me to write my congressman, "Drillmore" Chabot, and ask him to stop people from speculating on oil. Whatever. It is a free market, a world market in which demand continues to rise. And although there is lots of oil all over the world, the easy kind that bubbled out of Jed Clampett's field is gone. The rest requires pumping sea water into the ground, deep sea drilling or boiling tar sands, which of course costs more. Cheap oil is over. Sorry.

For the record, I think we probably should allow continental shelf drilling, but I also believe gas taxes should be raised. The gasoline taxes we now pay do not cover expenses. They should cover all road building costs and all military and environmental costs directly linked to bringing oil to our shores.

If gasoline was fairly taxed, maybe there would be some money left in the budget for transportation alternatives.

See Obama at Fountain Square Monday

...On the Jumbotron:
Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Convention Center will be packed next week when presumed Democratic and Republican presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain address members of the 99th Annual NAACP Convention.

Most of us will not have access to the convention center, but all of us can be part of this historic moment in Cincinnati and presidential history. Speeches by the candidates will be broadcast live on Fountain Square. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Obama is scheduled to speak Monday July 14 at 8 p.m. McCain is scheduled to speak on the final day of the convention, Wednesday July 16, sometime late at night when everyone is asleep.

Local Republican and Democratic party officials as well as local Obama and McCain campaign leaders are expected to be on the Square as part of a “viewing party” to watch the speeches. Local NBC affiliate, WLWT-TV, Channel 5, has indicated it will pre-empt regular programming at the time of the speeches and carry them live, allowing them to be broadcast on Fountain Square.

UPDATE: If you want to actually get into the convention, day passes are apparently available starting today for $30 for adults and $15 for children. You do not need to be a NAACP member.

10 July 2008

A Mad Tea Towel Party

...opening reception for A Mad Tea {Towel} Party!
Where: the Nicholas Gallery
When: Fri, 11 Jul 08, 6-11 pm
What: work by 25 artists and designers worldwide

[where: 23 E. Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

Saggy Pants Law in Flint



Childless are Happier

Interesting response here to a recent study claiming that people without kids are happier than those with kids.
The only known symptom of the empty-nest syndrome is increased smiling

The comments people left were also good, an example:
...American parents, comparatively, bear more of the economic and work-related burdens when it comes to childrearing, than parents in other societies

09 July 2008

City Home Starting

City Home Banner:

Sample proposed brickwork next to existing building to remain:

The three buildings that were demolished: From left to right, 1410, 1408, 1406 Pleasant last winter:

Same view today:

Rear of OTRCH offices

Pleasant Street garden (1412-16 Pleasant) last winter:
Demo site with OTRCH to right:

Pleasant Street, looking north from 14th last winter:

Similar view today:

Here is a photo I found in my archives, showing men working on the rear of 1408 Pleasant. To the left is 1406, and to the right is 1410. They had removed the rear wood portion of 1408 and planned on building a new addition to make a single family home. For some reason (I believe it was some hard headedness) the addition was never completed: