Local Landscape

What makes Here… Here

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Main Branch

http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org

Just blocks from the heart of downtown is a large building housing some of the greatest works of art of mankind. No, not the Art museum, most of these works of can actually be held by the public, it’s the The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The Main branch is split between two buildings with a walk way over 9th Street connecting them. Outside is a bustling city. Inside is a calm relaxing place to study, read, get information, and create.

The south building houses the more traditional and quite sections of the library. In it is the popular library, a place to easily find fiction, films, and audio recordings. This is great way to be in and out with a new title. For more in depth studies the upper floors contain the non-fiction books. On the Third floor is the genealogy and local history rooms. This building is also where most of the computers for Internet access are located. By the front doors are main checkout and the Library Friends Shop.

The shop is is small but well stocked. Used books and media no longer needed by the Library are sold at a this location. Besides books the shop has plenty of other merchandise too. Think of this as any other book store, but with a heavy Library and Cincinnati theme. This is probably one of the best hidden stores in all the city.

The more noisy departments are housed in the North building. This allows for some activity to happen in these sections with out disturbing the patrons looking for a more quite setting. In this building are the children’s section with a children’s garden, the teen space, homework station, and the MakerSpace. The MakerSpace is one of the best free makers spaces in the state. The space houses more than the 3d printers most libraries offer. As their website states “3D printers, audio and visual equipment, laser cutters and engravers, sewing machines, cameras and other hardware and software tools that they can use for free to create pretty much anything they can imagine.” The traditional audio visual stations can be used to make almost anything need in modern digital society. The printers, cutters, and sewing machines can be used to create almost anything else. Want to work on something but have no knowledge on how to start? The very well informed and super helpful staff will be glad to assist. Note that materials may cost extra for some of the MakerSpace equipment, but it is way less than buying the equipment oneself.

 

To connect the two buildings is a walk way. Along the walk way and through out the two buildings are art work and galleries. These displays change regularly and enhance the overall fell of the space. The Main branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is more than just a place to get a book to read. It is a welcoming, innovative space to relax, enjoy, and create. Always worth a visit when in the area.

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Cincinnati Observatory

3489 Observatory Place
Cincinnati, Ohio 45208

https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org

We went to the Cincinnati Observatory on a sunny weekday afternoon, probably not the best day to go to an observatory, but we did get a laid back uncrowded personal experience. The Cincinnati Observatory is located on top of the hills of Mt. Lookout in Cincinnati. This Observatory is the oldest, still in use, in the United States. The observatory consists of two buildings. The two buildings house the main 11-inch Merz and Mahler refractor and the 16-inch Alvan Clark and Sons refactor. We visited the main building that house the 16-inch Clark telescope. The building was designed by the famous architect Samuel Hannaford. One can visit this observatory most afternoons during weekdays. These afternoons are reservation free.  There are many special events and astronomy nights on Thursdays and Fridays. These are the nights to look through the telescopes. There are also events on the weekends. Check out their website for these events and to make reservations.

The main building has a rotunda and two levels. The first level is a museum type of room. One can walk around the room at their leisure and look at the astronomy related artifacts. There are also daily tours (small cost) of both buildings. We did not take the tour, but lucked out and had a sort-of  guide tour of the Clark telescope. After finishing on the first floor, one can go to the second floor and look at the telesocope. When we visited the friendly and knowledgeable staff gave us a tour of the telescope. Not sure if this is standard practice, but it was much appreciated. 

This museum/observatory does not take long to visit, but is packed with many interesting artifacts. It would be good to visit the telescope during the day, then return for one of the night time viewing. This would be a great place for kids, because it is highly education and just long enough to keep their attention. Kids would probably really enjoy the night time viewings. The place is not hard to find and access or out of the way. One major tip is to visit their website to find out about special events and open hours. A visit to the observatory can easily be added to a visit to another great Cincinnati attraction.

A day or night visit to the Cincinnati observatory is well worth it, even if you have little interest in astronomy or space.

 

Some of Ohio’s Unique Museums

The great thing about museums is they can be expansive or super small. They can be hyper local or focused on the world. Museums range form huge collections of various artifacts to someones collection of one focus. Museums involve the dedicated and the casual viewers. Museums can attract locals, casual tourists, or serious dedicated fans. Ohio has great vast institutions that attract people from all over the world. Ohio also has museums that are unique and should be highlighted. Some of these museums might not be known by all, but are really great attractions.

Here is our list of some of them:

Bicycle Museum of America

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

Ohio River Museum

Our review (click here)

The Museum of Postal History

National Museum of the Great Lakes

Our review (click here)

Ohio Craft Museum

Feline Historical Museum

Our review (click here)

Merry-Go-Round Museum

American Toy Marble Museum

Airstream Factory Tour (not a really a museum)

Our review (click here)

The Cardboard Boat Museum

Blair Museum of Lithophanes

David Warther Carvings 

Our review (click here)

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

The American Sign Museum

Our review (click here)

 

Sugar n’ Spice

4381 Reading Road, Cincinnati OH 45229

https://sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com

Our quest to eat at any breakfast place we can allowed us to come along this little gem. What we like about breakfast places is that you can find some really local and quirky ones. Sugar n’ Spice Restaurant has been in business for 75 or more years. This shows how popular this place has stayed. This is not a huge restaurant, but it does not need to be, either. If you look at the pictures below, you can see how fun and comfortable this place is. We went in the middle of the morning on a weekday. We saw a mix of people from workers to families. This place has a counter and tables around the outer edges of the one room. We decided to set at the counter in order to not have to wait for a booth. This place probably has a wait during the busy times and on the weekends. So expect to wait. The turn over is quick, but if you in a hurry do not go on the weekends.

They are known for their wispy thin pancakes and omelets. We ordered a breakfast quesadilla and a salmon platter. If you like a breakfast burrito a breakfast quesadilla is a sibling to this fine dish. The salmon platter had a flavorful salmon patties. We did not order lunch, but some of the menu items looked tasty. There is a cuddlin puppy, which is a hotdog wrapped in bacon with melted cheese and relish served on Texas toast. They also have all types of burgers and sandwiches. They also have coffee. The real test of a breakfast place is not over fancy coffee, but if the coffee is refilled often. Our coffee was never empty. The staff made sure we had a full cup. The prices for the food were reasonable and the wait time for food was not long.

Sugar n’ Spice does support the local community, so we felt good about going to this place.

We made to feel at home at this place and taken care of. We felt a sense of fun and were even offered a choice of rubber duckies to pick from. This is a place one should check out and return to often.

 

Mound Cold War Discovery Center

1075 Mound Rd,
Miamisburg, OH 45342

https://www.daytonhistory.org/visit/dayton-history-sites/mound-cold-war-discovery-center/

Dayton Ohio and the surrounding area has a long history with inventions, technology, and war. The National Museum of the United States Air Force tells the story of the war. Dayton History at Carillon park tells the story of the technology. Now Dayton History has helped to preserve the history of a major component of technology in war. The Mound Cold war Center tells the story of the part Dayton played in creating some of the most destructive weapons ever used.

On August 6, 1945 the United States, while at war with Japan, dropped the most destructive weapon ever used. The Atomic Bomb was again used on August 9th. These two bombs ended the war and changed the world forever. The bombs were so powerful that they were developed under the most secret project of the early 20th century. The Manhattan Project, while most known for being at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, had sites across the country. One such site was in Dayton, Ohio.

The Dayton Project was created to make the neutron initiator that would start the reaction process in the bomb. Many sites through out Dayton were used. The Dayton Project was the only portion of the larger Manhattan Project to be based in an urban area. At the end of the war the US Government decided to continue stockpiling weapons in case of future tensions. The weapons would need initiators, or triggers, and decided to keep making them in Dayton. Because this work was going to be done on a larger scale a suitable location outside of town was needed. A location was found near the ancient Adena culture’s burial mound in Miamisburg Ohio. The Atomic Energy Commission built its first site after the war and called it Mound Laboratories.

As tensions between the United States and the USSR grew into the Cold War, Mound Laboratories was in full swing. Later, as the stock pile grew large enough and the space race picked up the labs used the nuclear technology to invent a new type of battery. These batteries would be able to power a device for over 40 years. They were perfect for long duration space flight were battery replacement was not an option. Some of them have even left our solar system aboard the voyager spacecraft. The batteries are said to last until 2025.

Eventually the Mound Laboratories ended operations and the site was cleaned up. The buildings have either been taken down or turned into office space. A few of the building remained empty and workers from the labs decided to try and tell its story and preserve its history. The museum they created, while small, did a good job of telling the untold story. The times were not great and the presentation was a little haphazard. Eventually they joined forces with Dayton History to completely redesign the small museum. The New creation is the Mound Cold War Museum.

The Museum is a one large room with displays along the walls that tell the story of the mound. Using videos, pictures and artifacts the museum unfolds the work from the early days of the Dayton Project to the clean up and closure. Many of the displays are just text and pictures, or artifacts and text. Some however are larger interactive items, such as a working Geiger counter and a glove box. Upstairs is the archives with information on almost every worker at the mounds, and photos of the workers experience.

Overall the story gets across with out bogging down too much in the details. With the price of admission being free, it is well worth the price. Adding in a trip to the Miamisburg Mound across the street, and a stop downtown for lunch, one can easily fill a morning.

Miamisburg Bicentennial

Miamisburg Bicentennial Featured Week of Celebration  (JUNE 16-23)
Other events through out year

miamisburg200.com

One and Only, Star City, Miamisburg, the city south of Dayton along the Great Miami River has gone by many names. This year it celebrates its 200 birthday. For the past few years they have gone to work to make sure the it is ready. Ready not just for a one day ceremony, but a week long event to remember for the next 200 years.

The area was settled before 1818, long before. Some of the earliest inhabitants of the region were the Adena Culture. These Mound builders created great works of earth to honor their dead. In the state of Ohio they built many mounds, the largest being the one in Miamisburg. The Miamisburg Mound is 65 feet tall and sits on a 100 foot tall hill. This allows the it to be seen for miles. The impact from this hilltop mound is still felt to this day.

About 1700 years later the first American settlers, Zachariah Hole and family, created Hole’s Station, a rest area for travelers from Dayton to Cincinnati. Over the years many heading west had stopped and settled along the banks of the Miami. It was not until February 20, 1818 that four men from out of state decided to sell 90 small plots in the newly organized town. As with the river and many other things in the area the village was named after the local Miami Tribe that had once inhabited the region.

Over the years the fact that Miamisburg was a stop along the route between the Ohio river port of Cincinnati and the expanding city of Dayton allowed it to grow. In 1832 the area officially gained village status. At one point (pictured above) The Miami Erie canal, train lines, interurban lines, major roads, and the Miami River all flowed through town. As transportation grew faster, and less stops were needed, the growth of the village slowed a little. It took almost another 100 years for it to become a city.

Later, as the world entered war for the second time, secret projects were conducted in the city. The Manhattan project was working to build a weapon to end the war. Dayton was a major producer of the triggers for these atomic weapons. After the war the Atomic Energy Commission built Mound Laboratories to continue this work.  The labs work and the impact it has had on the region is now on display at Mound Cold War Discovery Center (review coming soon). This lab, along with the newly constructed highway brought many new people to the city and expansion happened. While the bulk of the businesses moved east to the Dayton Mall area, and people stopped coming downtown after the Mound closed, some stayed in the Downtown area of the city. Over the past few years The Plaza theater, Grandpa Joe’s candy shop, T.J. Chumps, and many other stores and restaurants have revitalized the Downtown area and brought back a touch of the history of the city.

This 200 year journey is what the Miamisburg Historical Society is celebrating with its week long party. The festivals with begin with a parade and have a parade on the last day too. in between each day will be themed and offer a different look into Miamisburg. Everyday will have some form of entertainment on the main stage of Riverfront Park, with more activities around it. Some days have different activities at other locations through out the city. By the end of the event every aspect of life in the Star City will have been explored. The final night will end with a free concert from the Dayton Philharmonic and fireworks.

Downtown Miamisburg is a great place to visit any time of year. From what the city has been planning and the craziness going around town expect June 16th -23rd to be a rocking good time in the Star City.

World A’fair

2018 location: Dayton Convention Center
22 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45402

https://www.aworldafair.org/

Date: Usually the weekend before Memorial Day (May 18-20, 2018)

Ohio is a melting pot. Over the years people from all walks of life and all parts of the globe have come together to make it a very interesting place. In the beginning most of the immigrants came from Europe. As the Countries involvement in Asia and other area of the world, the diversity of the state expanded too. One city that has embraced this diversity is Dayton. The city has many cultural organizations that help to keep the spirit of the people’s homeland alive and to help to educate the next generations.

For the past 45 years the many organizations have been coming together to celebrate the diversity of its people. Known as A World A’Fair, the event brings over 30 cultural heritage groups from around the region to one large celebration, the largest international festival in Ohio. Housed in the Dayton Convention Centers main hall the event is basically a market and two stages.

The “market” area is the largest section. It consist of one booth from each of the organizations involved. Each year the A’Fair has one aspect of culture that it focuses on. Each booth is required to display something based on that aspect. The single focus does an amazing job of showcasing the diversity of culture, while at the same time showing that all cultures have something in common. At most booth food is served. This is not just some over popularized sampling of the culture, like a fourth grade presentation. This is the real immigrants spending time to make the food of their homelands. While some of the food is common to the palate of the average 21st century American, such as bratwurst, wontons, curry, or pizza, it is all made in the tradition al way. The food is reasonably priced and a great reason to come back over the 3 days. Some booths sell merchandise too. The event is one of the largest fundraising for any group involved. Over 30,000 people attended in 2016.

The entertainment for A World A’Fair is also provide by the organizations. The 3 day event has many dancers, singers, and acrobats spread out over two stages. The Main Stage is where the large presentations take place. It is a large area off to the side of the main floor. The very large bleachers always seem to have space despite the crowds. The Interactive Stage is a smaller area for more, well interactive, presentations. The area is quite small and can fill up fast. Most groups preform many times over the weekend, with multiple chances to see them every day. These are great places to stop and eat, rest during the day, and wait to eat some more.

To help keep the younger ones interested the event has a children’s passport. The passport is a small book with questions that can be answered with information found at each booth. There also is a small child’s area in front of the Main Stage with crafts and demos. There also is a separate fair in the lobby of the convention center. Here many local organizations such as The Humane Society of Greater Dayton, and the Dayton Metro Library have informational booth for people waiting in line to enter. Sometimes the festivities from inside spill out into this area.

Over the years The World A’Fair has become more than a simple high school level presentation of cultures. It is a 3 day explosion of diversity and food, and dancing, and more food.  A must see for anyone looking to expand their understanding of the world.
Tip: Around noon Saturday a Naturalization Ceremony is held to welcome more citizens to the nation. A great chance to see the love that the immigrants coming to the area have for their new home, while still celebrating their old home.

Krohn Conservatory

1501 Eden Park Drive
http://www.cincinnatiparks.com/krohn/

Down by the river in Cincinnati is a Eden Park. The land is beautiful and the hills rolling.  The park it self is quite large. So large it house two of Cincinnati’s hidden gems. The first is The Cincinnati Art Museum. The second is not quite as large or well known but is just as amazing. Krohn Conservatory.

In the 1880’s the first greenhouse at Eden park were used for growing plants for the park. at the turn of the 20th century a greenhouse was built for public displays. The following year the first plant show was started. Shortly after the park decided to keep the plants in the greenhouses in rotation to keep visitors coming back. About 30 years later the crowds had grown and the park needed a new green house. The Eden Park Greenhouse opened its doors in 1933. four years later it was renamed The Khron Conservatory in honor of Irwin M. Krohn.

A conservatory is a room with a glass roof and walls, attached to a house at one side and used as a greenhouse or a sun parlor. Krohn is more than just a glass room attached to a building. The conservatory is broken up into 4 main rooms with smaller rooms off to the sides. The rooms each encompass an environment for the plants inside. The desert room houses the Cacti and succulent collection.  The tropical room showcase plants from the warmer climates, including ferns and begonias. The palm house is the tallest with palm trees towering above.  This room also includes a waterfall the flows into a river full of fish, turtles, and frogs. Behind the waterfall is a hidden cave. Each of these rooms include edible plants too. The conservatory is a great place to see where some common, but exotic, food comes from including bananas, vanilla, and cacao.  Off too the sides of these rooms are the bonsai collection. With plants owned by the park and plants on loan from the Bonsai Society of Greater Cincinnati . The other room is a large selection from the conservatories collection of orchids.

The final room of the Krohn is the smallest but grandest. The seasonal flower show room is the where 6 different shows are put on through out the year. During the spring the Krohn Conservatory holds its most famous event, a butterfly show. The room comes alive with the flutter of wings. While the flowers may repeat from time to time, each of the six shows are themed differently. The room becomes whatever the theme is. If the idea is flowers of the bayou, the room is a slice of New Orleans. Visitors are transported not just by the flowers on display but by the music, the decorations, and even the structures and walkways. The theming is not only limited to the seasonal show room. Every time the shows theme changes the Krohn is almost born anew with little hidden gems popping up in the other rooms as well. The changing shows are what make every visit a treat to enjoy with new things to find and sites to see.

TIP: The Cincinnati Art museum is open late on Thursdays and can be fit into a day trip to Eden Park and the Krohn Conservatory.

 

Opening Day in the MLB

For the past 142 (well 141 but who’s counting) one team has not heard the words home opening game. They have not had to. Every season they have opened at home and the home opener was just called Opening Day of Major League Baseball. It might be because they were the first Professional Team. It might be because of their location. It might be because they almost sell out every time. It might be because they are the Cincinnati Reds.

Why Cincinnati?

The Reds started out as the first openly professional team in 1866, just one year after the Civil War. Baseball was in it infancy at the time and over the next 16 years many changes came. In 1876 the team started playing in the newly formed National league. Over the next few years the team moved to a new league, but by 1890 the team had rejoined the National League for good and baseball was on its way to becoming a great american pastime.

Cincinnati was the southern most city in the league. With harsh winters and less experienced grounds keepers, other teams were happy to visit the “warm” city. Before tv, radio, or movies baseball and other live events were some of the only form of entertainment around. This meant that the Reds opening game was almost always a sellout. With a cut of the sellout profits and a better climate visiting teams decided to keep playing in the Queen city on the first day of the season. Be it tradition or an homage to the fact they were the first pro team, the Reds have opened the season at home on the first day of play ever since.

The fanfare and the Parade

At the turn of the 19th century Baseball, like most early years of a sport, had not formed the single major league they are now. The National League was competing with the American Association. To stand out the teams promoted Opening day more and more. If  fan was a fan of your team, the thought went, they would stay all season. To promote the game Cincinnati drove both the Reds, the visiting team, and a marching band down the streets to the field hyping the upcoming game along the way. This lasted until 1902 when the team stopped their parade. The fans decided to continue on their own.

For the next 2 decades local groups, known as rooters, would meet and march towards the game, promoting both the game and themselves along the way. in 1920 Findlay Market joined in on the fun, becoming one of the loudest and largest of them all. After a while the rooter groups stopped marching towards the game. The tradition faded. The only one left marching was the Findlay Market group.  Being the largest of them all changed the event from a tailgate fan event to a full fledge parade, albeit a small one.

Eventually the Ball park they were marching too moved downtown and the parade route took on a new direction and scope. What had once been a group of shop owners heading toward the park nearby became the citywide holiday event that many in Major League Baseball have come to recognize as the start of the season nationwide.

Alas due to a change in the schedule of MLB, and the date of Easter, the 2018 parade will not happen until the 4th game.