31 May 2010

Snack Carts and Sand Play

Sunday, after the Reds game, we rode our bikes over to Sawyer Point Park and the kids played a bit at the 1,000 hands playground. The shade of this playground under the Big Mac bridge is a welcome relief from the sweltering sun.

I have written before about how seldom concession stands are open in the Cincinnati Parks. The big concession stand was still closed, but they have this golf cart going around selling shaved ice and cold drinks:

At a meeting last week, I did get a better understanding of the playground proposal for Washington Park. One feature that is planned is a sandbox. If you are observant, you would have noticed that there are no sandboxes in Cincinnati Parks. They were common years ago, but they require a certain degree of attention and maintenance that we as a city, apparently could not muster. I find it encouraging that they are willing to try installing a new sandbox because it tells me that they are going to staff and maintain the park after construction.

At Sawyer Point Park, there is an accidental sandbox in the Volleyball Courts. The sandbox creates instant friends who collaborate in building tunnels and castles:

30 May 2010

29 May 2010

Pools Again this time Floating

Anyone who is inside reading blogs on this first hot day of summer, must be a real loser. But if for some reason you are not out on a bike or in a pool etc... check out these samples of swimming pools that float in the river. Maybe we could do something like this down at Sawyer Point, near the sand volleyball and the tennis courts and the 1,000 hands playground. It could be the downtowner's public country club!

Brooklyn Bridge Park Barge Pool:
Coverage here in the NY Times.

In Zurich. This one is for women only. They have one for men too, that includes an area to swim against the current. Very cool, literally it is freezing:

28 May 2010

Permanent Parking Day

This short video is about taking poorly used space away from cars and re-claiming it for parks, bicycles and people:

Here is another example in Texas.

See the after and before photos:

On a related note, has anyone else seen these videos made by artist Ross Ching, showing LA without cars (also without people):

Running on Empty from Ross Ching on Vimeo.

27 May 2010

New SCPA Photos

Here are a bunch of photos I took yesterday when I got into the new SCPA. The event was a thank you reception for Norma Petersen, a woman who has been involved with SCPA since 1973, and who worked with Eric Kunzel to realize this dream of a new School for the Creative and Performing Arts nearer to Music Hall.

This building is a culmination of years of dedicated work, fundraising, meetings, etc... Although I think the building design has some serious flaws, I think it will be a fantastic place for learning, and I would love for my kids to attend here.

View of parking lot from 12th and Race

How the building meets the sidewalk at Race and Central Parkway. Some architects cannot unlearn their suburban instincts. They cannot draw a building right up on the sidewalk, proud, where it should be, instead they must have some grass and shrubbery. Why???

How the building meets the Central Parkway sidewalk:

Approaching the entry. Better:

The entry behind these blocks:

What you see when you enter. A welcome desk to the right, theater entrance off screen to the left, and a very wide hall with glass facing the park straight ahead

The entry hall, with floating sculpture by artist Jessie Henson, who grew up in OTR on Orchard, and is an SCPA grad

Welcome desk inside and outside of glass:

Hallway around the theater at Elm and Central Parkway:

SCPA Chamber Orchestra playing Vivaldi in the theater. A nice performance space:

The theater:

Looking East out of a classroom window:

View of parking and OTR from cafeteria:

The view from this lobby towards City Hall and St Peter in Chains is excellent. One of the best things about the building is some of the views of the surrounding historic buildings. This is a nice space:

Dance studio. Yellow glass tints the room in the evening:

Chemistry lab with windows facing downtown:

Under the entry canopy looking south:

architectural folly:

no signature building these days is complete without some titanium:

at the front entry along Central Parkway:

How the corner of Elm and Central Parkway is demarcated. At least it is not with shrubbery:

The Elm Street elevation, mostly blank wall of the theater and gym:

More Elm Street elevation, approaching 12th Street:

This is what faces the corner of 12th and Elm where the Drop Inn Center is, and Music Hall is this way too:


This is the incompleted back entry, which faces Washington Park:

Visually interesting. This is kindof a courtyard surrounded on two sides by the "L" shaped building:

Across the street, the 1132 Bar, known to regular's as Carl's.

26 May 2010

Sprawl Becoming Less Affordable

...The meager short-term benefits of sprawl are increasingly outweighed by its profligate long-term costs. It's no longer uncrowded, no longer attractive, no longer livable. Now the last remaining argument for sprawl -- that it was affordable -- is discredited... -Andres Duany, in Portland
I found it interesting that the Oregon newspaper has tons of negative comments similar to what you would see in the Enquirer. Frankly, I think Cincinnati and Portland are both fantastic cities. I don't know why so many people hate their city so much. Does the anonymous nature of commenting encourage the vitriol, or is is the negativity encouraged by the papers as a way to drive pageviews?

Meanwhile: homebuilders in Las Vegas are busy rebuilding the bubble:
..There are 9,517 spanking new houses sitting empty. An additional 5,600 homes were repossessed by lenders in the first three months of this year and could soon be for sale.
Yet builders here are putting up 1,100 homes, and they are frantically buying lots for even more...

25 May 2010


We had a great time Saturday at the Gateway Festival or whatever it is called. But it was a long hot day, and three days later I am still recovering from soccer games, retirement parties, lemonade stands, and more soccer games. My son and wife and some good friends all ran the 5K, while I cheered.

Kids racing a short race after the 5K in OTR, Vine Street Saturday:

OTR Underground Tour Starting

I've been worn out from lots of kid activities, and being busy at my work. I cannot wait for the summer to start. My only hesitation about the summer is that Washington Park Pool is not reopening, and Zeigler pool hours are going to be cut back even further. We have applied to join a local pool club, but I am worried that we will start spending all our time there, and spend less time downtown and with our neighbors. I wish we had a pool club on the riverfront, kinda like the CRC Dunham Pool (but with a deep end).

Or maybe a floating pool, like this one on the Hudson River NYC, 100 years ago:

24 May 2010

Enquirer Runs Wrong Headline

The Enquirer ran a headline this morning pushing their agenda on the streetcar:

The Headline said: Enquirer Poll Buoys Streetcar Foes

But when you look at the numbers they show:

19% say they would ride every day.

Cincinnati's population is just about 1/3 of a million people; 19% is 63,000 daily riders!

In addition,
31% say they would ride several times a week. That's 103,000 riders!
56% say they would ride at least monthly, that is 186,000 riders!

Seems to me the headline should have been something along the lines of "Majority of Residents Plan to Ride Streetcar".

23 May 2010

Kids Hanging on Fountain Sq


Then they made "salad"

22 May 2010

ASCAP shutting down Third Places

For Henderson business owner Mike Hopper, his coffee shop, Mocha Joe, was the perfect environment to let local artists showcase their original music. At least that was the plan until the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers said otherwise....

However, Hopper said it was just a misunderstanding between him and the organizations. He then called to explain that the unsigned bands were playing 100 percent original songs...

"I am 100 percent in compliance," Hopper said. "I'm not charging cover at the door. I'm not paying the bands, and they are just playing songs they wrote. They essentially said to me, "We don't care. We have this low-end licensing fee you must have because there is a chance your band might play a cover song."

...Looking at potentially paying a total of $1,800 in annual fees to the three agencies and the possibility that he would be shut down permanently, Hopper discontinued music at Mocha Joe... - Henderson, NV View

21 May 2010

Question Comforts of Your Youth

Q: What do you think it is about the suburbs...that people find comfortable?

A: I think they don’t actually find it comfortable — but everyone is nostalgic for the shitholes of their youth. When we’re young and isolated we don’t know if a place is lousy or not- it’s ours and we are of it, and so we feel a weird closeness. But just as some kids who are abused and beaten think that’s just what growing up is, we ex-suburbanites naturally assume that everyone shared our experience. Many did, but not all.

- David Byrne on bicycles, Atlanta’s sprawl and burying highways

A: ...The thing about many cities — and getting out of the tin bubble — is that they facilitate random encounters, inspirations and connections. That’s how people, being the social animals we are, flourish.

20 May 2010

Utrech Commuting Video

here is a link to the video.

This video shows a transit dance, involving mostly bikes, that is conducted without cyclists bumping into each other or the vehicles. Here we’d insist on much more room, “forgiving” bikeways, much the way we’ve built forgiving highways. Notice both bus, rail and delivery vehicles on the crossroad.

And you don't see much in the way of helmets, racing bikes, or spandex. Why do the Dutch have the happiest children, healthier longer lives, and have more sex? Is it all because of the bike culture?

Washington Park Mtg Tonight

I can't make it, we have our last soccer practice of the season tonight:

18 May 2010

Stroller Rage

The fight over space with bulky strollers!!!! An amusing article:

Washington Post May 16, 2010

....Politicians and planners have heralded the return of young families to such areas as Washington, Boston and New York as a sign of resurgence. But as the ranks of parents and their tykes have swelled, so, too, has resentment over having to accommodate them in public places. Skirmishes have erupted on buses, in parks, on playing fields and in bars. Often, the conflicts pit parents against childless adults who, after decades of middle-class flight, have gotten used to the sense that they have the city to themselves.

..."Why do people with children always think that they should be catered to?" commented one poster. "Fold your damn giant stroller (which seem to be getting larger and larger these days) and shut up."

..."I remember really hating people with kids before I had kids," Hill resident Tim Krepp said. "I grossly underestimated at the time how difficult it is to get two kids around the city without cars."

...Many complaints about parents revolve around strollers, especially high-end models with large rubber tires ...

...the rules have provoked testy exchanges. ... some parents balk at having to leave their strollers outside. "People said, 'These things cost $500. I don't want it stolen,' " ... "I said, 'If you buy something that costs that much, why don't you get a bike lock?' "

...as strollers have gotten bigger, it has gotten harder to keep entrances and exits clear. ...

17 May 2010

Teachers Oppose Recess

At least the teacher's union does:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – At the urging of school groups, the Ohio Senate has removed a provision from a childhood obesity bill that would require students to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day while in school.

..."We can't solve every social problem at the school door" said Darold Johnson of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. "We need to do what we do well, and that's educate."

Jeff McCuen, treasurer of Worthington City Schools near Columbus, said the 30-minute exercise requirement would cost the district $4 million and take time away from core classes. ...

State Sen. Kevin Coughlin, a Republican from Cuyahoga Falls, agreed to take the exercise requirement out of his bill and instead allow districts to obtain a waiver. But he added that society rightfully asks a lot of public schools. "While I share the view that parents have responsibilities on all these things, I can also have the view that our schools should be doing the right stuff while our students are in there nine months a year, seven hours a day," he said....

I really don't understand why the kids cannot get an hour for lunch and recess combined. The teachers should take their lunch at that time, and the school day should be extended half an hour. We are not asking the teachers to teach longer hours, just be at the school longer and take a mandatory lunch break. A better lunch and recess would help my son enormously at school. And he is not abnormal. Kids need to run around.

15 May 2010

Chalk on Sidewalk

Why do you love OTR?

chalk girl

I heart evreebudy

heart tree

14 May 2010

Tree Markings

Yesterday someone tagged all the trees in Washington Park with different colored ribbons. My son spent some time trying to figure out what each color meant. It seems that this color indicates trees to be removed:

Most of the bigger trees are wrapped with a dark green ribbon, which we assume means "keep". Some of the smaller ones have white or pink ribbons which we think means move, but save for transplant.

12 May 2010

Mother and Son Interview

An animated interview of a mother and her boy, who has Asperger's.

Q&A from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

From Story Corps.

Friar's Club Demolition

I walked around the Friar's Club site a few days ago, and the building was already half demolished. The site is pretty interesting, and quite large. If some overgrowth was cut away there will be dramatic views of downtown over the hillside. I hope that the new development is appropriate for this site. See Abandoned for better photos and explanation:


11 May 2010

Civic Beauty

"Today nobody is concerned with city planning as an art - only as a
technical problem. When, as a result, the artistic effect in no way
lives up to our expectations, we are left bewildered and helpless;
nevertheless, in dealing with the next project it is again treated
wholly from the technical point of view, as if it were a railroad in
which artistic questions are not involved." Camillo Sitte,
City Planning According to Artistic Principles, ca 1889

10 May 2010

Permeable Pavements

I've been noticing the City's Engineering Department has initiated a project to install water permeable pavements in some locations. This is a fantastic development.

Solidly paved surfaces treat rainwater as a waste product. Rain is typically channeled and piped away as quickly as possible. This is a problem because the vegetation (street trees mostly) needs that water.

Also, all that channeled rainwater overwhelms our combined sewer system during heavy rains. Any water diverted from the storm pipes save the City headaches.

So I noticed that last week during a heavy rain, that no water was being channeled down Comer Alley. Comer Alley is a one-block alley that parallels Race Street and runs between 14th and 15th. It was re-built last year as part of the OTR Community Housing Project "City Home". It was rebuilt to make it easier to use so that vehicles could access new rear garages. Before, the alley was only eight feet wide between granite curbs, and this made it very tight in which to drive a car.

The Alley bricks were removed, and a permeable gravel base was installed. Then the old bricks were re-installed level with the granite curbs. When the bricks were reinstalled, slight gaps were left between the bricks and filled with gravel. These joints absorb all the water and direct it into the ground. It is a beautiful solution to several problems.

Here is a picture of nearby Osborne Alley, half-done:


See here for some during construction photos of the alley.

I also noticed that a similar effort was made at University of Cincinnati, near trees. Notice that here, the pavers are laid in a different pattern above the tree roots, allowing water to enter the ground:

UPDATE: Here is a great article about permeable alley pavements in Chicago