Saturday, May 21 through Thursday, May 26, 2011
Hyatt Regency Cincinnati
151 West Fifth Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Cincinnati was founded in 1788 by Revolutionary War veterans, members of the Society of the Cincinnati, which commemorated the Roman general Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus who twice returned to his farm after leading the army to victory. When steam navigation was established on the Ohio River in the early 19th century, Cincinnati became the first major inland American city. A major industry was meat packing. Pigs were herded through the streets inspiring the name "Porkopolis." Waste products of the meat packing industry became raw materials for companies that produced soap, candles, pharmaceuticals, and bulk chemicals. Another industry was winemaking, and in his poem "Catawba Wine," Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Cincinnati the "Queen City of the West." That name stuck.
Later in the 19th century Cincinnati attracted a large population of German immigrants, most of whom settled north of the Miami & Erie Canal (now paved over as Central Parkway), in a neighborhood that became known as "Over the Rhine." The German population introduced beer gardens and built lots of breweries to supply them. They formed singing societies and built Music Hall to house the annual May Festival, now the oldest continuous choral festival in the Western Hemisphere. Like older neighborhoods in many other cities, "Over the Rhine" has seen better days, and renewal projects are now under way.
As the population grew, Cincinnati climbed onto the surrounding hillsides, called the Seven Hills to keep the Roman connection alive, and eventually out to more remote suburbs. Greater Cincinnati includes several Northern Kentucky cities and Ohio towns stretching east, west, and northward toward Dayton.
Before the Civil War, Cincinnati was a hub of the Underground Railroad, a network of people who worked to help slaves escape from Southern states to the North. After the Civil War, John A. Roebling completed a suspension bridge over the Ohio, linking Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky, integrating Cincinnati with its southern suburbs.
In honor of the 200th anniversary of the city's founding, a competition was held for a monumental gateway sculpture for a new riverfront park, Sawyer Point. The winner drew on Cincinnati's early history to design an arch that traced the route of the Ohio River and was topped by riverboat smokestacks spewing winged pigs instead of smoke (image at left). Porkopolis was thus transformed into the home of the Flying Pig.
Cincinnati is located at the southwest corner of Ohio, across the Ohio from the northern Kentucky cities of Covington and Newport and a few miles east of Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, and Indianapolis, Indiana, are short distances away. Interstate routes 71, 75 and 74 go through Cincinnati.
The downtown area is in the river valley, surrounded by hills. Downtown streets are arranged in a grid, with east/west streets numbered from the Ohio riverfront at the south. Buildings are numbered in East and West sequences from Vine Street. The focal point of downtown Cincinnati is Fountain Square, which is bordered by 5th, Vine, 6th and Walnut Streets and is just a block east of the Hyatt Regency. Beyond the downtown grid, major streets radiate along the river and hillsides. There is a demographic divide between the west side, predominantly blue-collar neighborhoods where many descendants of the 19th century German families live, and the east side, where white-collar professionals are more likely to live.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, CVG, is located across the river in Kentucky, 12 miles from downtown Cincinnati. Nonstop flights are available from most major US cities as well as Paris, Toronto, Montreal, Cancun and Punta Cana. Ultimate JetCharters has regular scheduled flights between Morristown NJ and Lunken Airport, which is about 5 miles east of downtown.
Long distance bus service feeds into the Greyhound terminal at 1005 Gilbert Ave, not far from the downtown core. The Metro, run by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transport Authority (SORTA), has an outside bus terminal at Government Square, on 5th St. between Walnut and Main Streets. TANK, the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky, crosses the bridge into Cincinnati and has a Bus Stop at 120 E. 4th St., in the arcade of the Mercantile Building. TANK's Southbank Shuttle crosses the Roebling Suspension Bridge to take riders from Cincinnati to Northern Kentucky points of interest, including Newport on the Levee and Old Town Covington.
Train service to Cincinnati is negligible.
Taxi Transport to the Hyatt Regency from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport
Taxis fares from CVG to downtown Cincinnati are about $27. There is a taxi desk in the baggage claim area of Termimal 3 and a courtesy phone in the baggage claim are of Terminal 2.
Shuttle Transport to the Hyatt Regency from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport
Executive Transportation provides service from CVG to hotels and attractions. There are shuttle desks in baggage claim areas. The fare is $20-one way or $30 round trip.
Arriving by Car
The last week of May is the best time to visit Cincinnati. See Things to do in Cincinnati before, during and after the PIUG 2011 Annual Conference.
Cincinnatians love to eat, and they love to celebrate food with street festivals. The Taste of Cincinnati festival will begin on May 27, right outside the Hyatt Regency. Dozens of restaurants will provide samples of their best dishes and bands will play on Fountain Square and on temporary stages up and down 5th Street.
Cincinnati has many fine restaurants, but you won't find its most characteristic foods in fine dining establishments.
According to one of the origin stories, the Macedonian owners of the Empress restaurant found themselves with more customers than they could serve from their menu and improvised a new dish with the ingredients on hand - spaghetti, cheddar cheese, ground beef, tomatoes, and lots of spices. The result was a sauce vaguely resembling chili, but flavored with cinnamon, chocolate, and other secret ingredients. This dish proved so popular that chains of chili parlors opened all over the Cincinnati area. The largest chains are Gold Star and Skyline, and there are factions that favor each.
Cincinnati chili is seldom served in a soupbowl. It can be served as a toping on a coney (a small hot dog on a bun with mustard, chili, shredded cheese and maybe onion) or on a plate as 3-way (spaghetti, chili and shredded cheese), 4-way (with either kidney beans or raw onions - you have to specify which), or 5-way (all of the above).
Try it! You just may like it - as long as you forget that it's called chili and don't compare it with Tex-Mex. The Skyline nearest the Hyatt is at 7th and Vine, and the nearest Gold Star is at 28 W. 4th St. Or you can try Gold Star in the Delta concourse on your way to your flight.
Goetta is a cousin of scrapple, a sort of sausage made of meat, usually pork, and oats. Goetta is exceptionally popular among the descendants of Cincinnati's original German population. Usually served for breakfast, goetta can also be crafted into almost any other recipe. There are two annual goetta festivals.
Graeter's ice cream is one Cincinnati favorite you will find at Cincinnati's fine restaurants. The Graeter family has been producing rich, luxurious ice creams (with humongous dark chocolate chips) since 1870. There's a Graeter's ice cream parlor right on Fountain Square. Graeter's isn't Cincinnati's only cult ice cream. Aglamesis Brothers also has a following, but there are only two Aglamesis Brothers ice cream parlors, neither of them downtown.
Ted Gregory, the founder of the Montgomery Inn in the northern suburb of Montgomery, was called the Ribs King, and his spareribs are a prominent element of "Cincinnati cuisine." Montgomery Inn Boathouse, 925 Riverside Drive, is on the Cincinnati riverfront, not quite close enough to the Hyatt for walking.