On Oct. 11, 2014, we visited Mariemont, Ohio, one of at least three planned communities in Greater Cincinnati.
The village square features an excellent independent movie theatre, very good restaurants and a Graeter's ice cream store. The clientele of the businesses around the square is quite upscale even though the village was designed to be mixed income. A number of Tudor style multifamily dwellings were supposed to be for affordable housing. Maybe some are still affordable, but I'm not sure. Most of the single-family homes are certainly high-priced for the region.
Mariemont was the brainchild of Mary Emery, the widow of a man who gained a fortune in candlemaking, chemicals and real estate. He died in 1906. She started spreading the money around, becoming a benefactor of the Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Children's (my employer), and much more. She rounded up a bunch of architects to design an "national exemplar" community. Construction started around 1923.
It really is worth walking through. The neighborhood historical society offers an online walking tour guide describing the key buildings. You won't see the blocks of attached apartment/rowhouse/flats anywhere else in Cincinnati.
One funny note: we thought Mariemont was the oldest example of a planned community in our region. We were wrong about that.
Things were looking rough for this area not very long ago. But a new development brought new spaces for a coffee shop, some restaurants and apartments. All within view of several blocks of historic buildings, many built at oddly sharp angles to follow the shape of the street. All within the shadow of the ornate St. Francis DeSales church.
Want to get some exercise on a nice afternoon? Stroll the several blocks between O'Bryonville and DeSales Corner along Madison Road. If you can't ooh and ahh as you pass the many old mansions along the way, you are sadly jaded.
Glendale claims to be Ohio's first planned community. It was built right next to a rail line in 1855. The well-off industrialists of the era could bask in rural, leafy quiet while strolling along curvy tree-lined streets. Then they could catch a train for a quick rumble to work in bustling, booming, filthy, smelly Cincinnati.
This history was interesting to us, because in the fall, we had hiked through and around the planned village of Mariemont, a place with its own fascinating history. We didn't know Glendale happened first.
If you like history, wine, or a fine pub, spend a day in Glendale. We certainly enjoyed strolling along there. There's a fountain dedicated by William A. Procter that's also a streetlight. (seems a bit dangerous) And even though the passenger depot is just a museum now, lots of freight trains still roll through. If you stand in certain places, you could easily touch them as they go by. But that would not be wise.
Not sure where the next walkabout will be. But for now, here are some other images we gathered.
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