According to the American Public Transportation Association, a public transit advocacy group, there are more than 90 cities in the United States that are actively considering implementing streetcar systems. Of those 90, over a quarter are in the Midwest. Though all in different stages of planning, development, and construction, a handful are well underway, with service beginning as early as 2016. Kansas City and Cincinnati are both in the process of live testing their newly manufactured cars, while Milwaukee debates expanding its current plans. Though hundreds of cities across the country once had streetcars, by the 1960s most had been dismantled with the rise of the private automobile and public bus systems. The current renaissance of streetcar construction is often attributed to cities interested in bolstering downtown transit options, and encouraging more ecologically sustainable modes of transportation. Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, may be the first of the new Midwest streetcar lines to open in early 2016. Dubbed the RideKC Streetcar, the light blue electric trolleys will services a 2.2-mile street along Main St. The system will have four cars running between 16 stops for 18 hours a day. Similarly to streetcars of the past, electricity will be drawn from overhead wires. Unlike past services, the new cars will be wi-fi enabled and free to ride. This first leg of construction is being positioned as a first step in a much larger plan to link the entire Kansas City region with multi-model integrated transit system. Detroit’s new streetcar system will be unique in that it was masterminded by a private non-profit organization. The M-1 Rail, to open by 2017, draws on the economic power of small and large businesses along its route, philanthropic institutions, and a close tie with city government to realize a complex funding and administrative system for the public-private venture. At one point the project was envisioned to expand to a 9 mile route, with more involvement from regional transit partnerships. After multiple feasibility studies it was found that, for economic reason, the 3.3 mile current route was more viable, with possibilities of expansion in the near future. The path to building streetcar systems is often far from smooth. With resistance from state and local governments, it took Cincinnati voters electing new city councilors and rejecting multiple anti-rail ballot initiatives to realize their new transit system. With discussions starting in earnest in 2007 and construction starting in 2012, it will be nine years in the coming when the system finally opens in September 2016. The 3.6 mile loop will service the Over the Rhine neighborhood and the downtown, highlighting the original intent of the system to encourage development in both districts. The Over the Rhine neighborhood, a member of the National Register of Historic Places, has been experiencing a renaissance in the last 10 years, after decades of struggles with crime and declining population. In the case of Milwaukee’s streetcar project, set to open in 2018, the resistance has not been coming from the government as much as from a small group of vocal opponents, who have taken issue with the $124 million project. Though, with a recent failure of a petition to stop further expansion of the already approved first leg of the system, the opposition seems to have dried up. The majority of the funding for the Milwaukee Streetcar is coming from U.S. Department of Transportation grants and Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Districts. The city and the federal government are betting on the street car to relieve vehicle congestion and pollution while raising property values along the route. Anticipating the rail’s impact on downtown Milwaukee, a 44-story residential tower by local architects Rinka Chung is planned to begin construction in 2016. The base of the project will integrate a streetcar stop along with shopping and office programs. Though it may have been 50 years since many U.S. cities have had street cars, the next five years will see large moves to reverse that situation. Along with KC, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Louis, MO, and St.Paul, MN, are making moves to implement their own streetcar systems. With the rise of the suburbs and automobile travel often being blamed for the decline of the streetcar, it would seem that this new trend might be pointing towards yet another indicator of the tendencies of contemporary city dwellers. A greater environmental consciousness, neighborhood investment, and a shifted understanding of economic stability, define the values of a young population that streetcar systems across the Midwest, and the entire country, hope to leverage into success.
Posts tagged with "Cincinnati":
Skywalks, or elevated sidewalks, continually resurface as an urban solution to alleviate pedestrian traffic, provide additional retail space, and offer a safe alternative to sharing space with automobiles. However, each time a skywalk is actually realized, problems abound. The original elevated sidewalks are in Chester, England, and are believed to have been built in at least one iteration in the 13th century. Historians are unsure if the elevated sidewalks were implemented for retail opportunities or as flooding precaution, or both. Protected as a heritage site today, the Chester Rows inspired several master plans in the United States, particularly at the turn of the 20th century. In 1913, Scientific American published “The Elevated Sidewalk: How it Will Solve City Transportation Problems,” which made the logical claim that humans and cars shouldn’t be in the same place. Imposing traffic regulations would slow cars down, and having people and cars sharing the streets is dangerous. The proposal was to make Manhattan a “city of bridges” with pedestrians moving safely above ground while cars sped underneath. Yet this never happened in lieu of the signs and traffic regulations we use today. In the '60s, the idea of the elevated sidewalk resurged in nearly two dozen towns, including rather unlikely places such as Cincinnati, Ohio, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Morristown, Tennessee. The Minneapolis Skyway system was built in 1962 and had the added benefit of providing a climate-controlled path through the city in intense weather. For that same reason, St. Paul also implemented a similar Skyway. However, the pros are offset by some solid drawbacks—property disputes mean that it is often confusing as to who is responsible for maintaining the skywalks and a lack of commercial real estate along the walkways renders them desolate and perceived by the public as dangerous and crime-filled. Poor planning means that the sidewalks can be confusing and require maps; one example in particular is the “skyway to nowhere” on Wabasha Street in Minneapolis, which doesn’t connect to anything at all. Inspired by Minneapolis, the city of Cincinnati created its own robust skywalk system that opened in 1971 to help downtown retailers compete with enclosed malls and make it easier to navigate the downtown area. More segments were added well through the '90s, and for awhile, appear to be used quite regularly. But by 2002, the skywalks were falling into disrepair and the city’s “2002 Center City Plan” found that they actually were causing downtown economic activity to decline. The plan reported that when pedestrians bypassed the street, it made the downtown look abandoned and thus, a less desirable place to linger and spend money. In 2005, then-mayor Charlie Luken told The New York Times that the Skywalk is "ugly" and the space underneath is "yucky." The skyway is slowly being dismantled one chunk at a time. Morristown is particularly fraught over its elevated skywalk system, called the SkyMart, that was built in 1962 after the downtown was flooded and the commercial district was nearly wiped out. As was commonly the case around the country, the walkway system did not succeed in competing with malls, proved to be expensive to maintain, and, overall, did not live up to the expectations of the civic leaders. In one camp, supporters believe it is unique to the city and a “national treasure.” The other side deems it to be a hindrance to progress, unnecessarily expensive, and underused. It was submitted to the National Register of Historic Places in the early 1990s, but it was denied. Recently, the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance posted an article on Facebook in support of the SkyMart. Comments in response offer insight into the local’s perspective. “Oh, are there businesses on the second level?” asked a commenter. “Yes! Downtown Crossroads Association’s office is on the skywalk,” responded another. “One?” the original commenter replied. There was no response. This seems to be the wide sweeping problem in all cities with elevated skywalks. Instead of bustling hubs of commerce and safe, weather-protected passageways through cities, they are deserted, confusing, and/or dangerous. Similar issues arise in tunnel systems built in cities like Dallas and Houston. "It was the worst urban planning decision that Dallas has ever made. They thought it was hip and groovy to create an underground community, but it was a death knell," Dallas Mayor Laura Miller told The New York Times in 2005. It’s a little unclear to us why this seems to be the case over and over again. Successful skywalks exist in Hong Kong, Copenhagen recently installed a popular bike skyway, and Mumbai is currently building out its skywalk system that, while controversial, is actively being used. Population density of American cities versus Asian or European cities or simple human preferences of habit could contribute to their failure. Let AN know: Why do you think skywalks have been unsuccessful? Alternatively, if you know of a successful skywalk, tell us about it in the comments below.
Cincinnati decided this waterfront skyscraper just wasn’t complete without an old-timey hat and handlebar mustache
When Mies van der Rohe set out to remake the world in the image of a crystal-clear tower with steel columns behind walls of glass, he probably wasn’t thinking about dressing up those buildings with old-timey hats and handlebar mustaches. However, a century later that's exactly what's happening in Cincinnati. The Queen City's 468-foot-tall Scripps Center, a 1990 office tower resembles any Midwestern skyscraper with a curved wall of glass keeping watch over the Ohio River. But thanks to red, white, and black colored panels applied to the top of the tower, the building now looks a little like the Cincinnati Reds’ mascot, Mr. Redlegs. Mies would probably loathe this decorative approach to giving buildings character, but it's not 1921 anymore, Ludwig. The Reds gave the building a pillbox hat and mustache in celebration of the 2015 All-Star Game, which will be played in July at the city's Great American Ballpark. The panels are made of the same material that is sometimes used to put advertisements on buses. In anticipation of the game and its parallel festivities such as the Home Run Derby, the city is pulling out all the stops, including shutting down part of a freeway and projecting images on the nearby Carew Tower, one of the city’s most iconic structures. And all throughout the city, 850-pound sculptures of mustaches are being decorated in baseball-themed art. https://twitter.com/robinburke/status/608787417626234882 https://twitter.com/JSchachleiter/status/610235652332982272 https://twitter.com/FOX19Joe/status/606891545112027139
Remember the Future: Daniel Arsham Contemporary Arts Center 44 East 6th Street Cincinnati, OH March 20–August 30 Remember the Future is the first major exhibition in Ohio by Cleveland-born artist Daniel Arsham. In it, site-specific installations respond to the scale, light, and structure of the Contemporary Arts Center building in Cincinnati. Known for “making architecture do all the things it shouldn’t,” Arsham’s work marries theater, classicism, and hallucination by liquefying gallery walls, furniture, and the human form. Eerie, cloth-covered figures ripple from the walls as if trying to entice the viewer to another world on the far side, while elsewhere Arsham makes the walls appear to be in the process of melting. The artist’s recent work has involved casting outdated media devices—cameras, film projectors, and microphones—in geological material such as volcanic ash, crystal, and crushed glass.
Portland still dominates the American Community Survey ranking the 70 largest cities with the highest share of bike commuters, but the list shakes up some preconceptions when you count which cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013. The League of American Bicyclists runs the numbers every year, pulling data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. This year's bike culture report card, as it were, has Portland, Washington, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and New Orleans topping its list of bicycle commuters as a percentage of total population. In total 13 cities report more than 2 percent of their population biking to and from work. Growth in that number is more startling. They're small overall numbers, perhaps inflating the percent change figure, but the growth since 1990 for eight cities is over 100 percent. The following cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013:
The Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave captured the eye of American audiences last year, but it may have also had an unforeseen effect on historic preservation. It appears that the National Trust for Historic Preservation was watching as well. The Trust has issued its annual list of the 11 most endangered historic places in the United States, which featured the slave trading center where the film's protagonist, Solomon Northrup, was held and captured. For twenty-five years, the National Trust has launched campaigns to save historic structures and places in regions across the U.S.—many of which are vulnerable from years of neglect or the threat of demolition. "Only a handful of the 250 places named have been lost," the Trust said in a statement. Thus, the attention brought by the endangered list will likely help the chances of preserving these irreplaceable historic sites tied to the integrity of the nation.
Two Major IconsCincinnati, Ohio has two of the largest restoration projects: Union Terminal and Music Hall. Each of these projects are estimated to cost $280 million. Music Hall is a hub of arts—home to Cincinnati's Symphony and Pop Orchestras, Opera, Ballet, and the May Festival. While Union Terminal is one of the most significant Art Deco structures in the country. The full list includes Frank Lloyd Wright's Spring House, a church built in 1837, the threatened view of the Palisades, and other significant places in American history.
Full List of 2014 11 Most Endangered Historic Places
|Name||Location||Importance||Estimated Restoration Costs|
|Battle Mountain Sanitarium||Hot Springs, SD||Battle Mountain Sanitarium has provided medical care to veterans in the region for more than a century. If the VA moves ahead with its plan, it will remove the largest employer in the self-described “Veterans Town.”||$120,000|
|Bay Harbor’s East Island||Dade County, FL||Bay Harbor’s East Island is one of the largest concentrated collections of mid-century Miami Modern (MiMo) style architecture in the country designed by architects including Morris Lapidus, Henry Hohauser, and Charles McKirahan.||N/A|
|Chattanooga State Office Building||Chattanooga, TN||The Chattanooga State Office Building was constructed in 1950 in the Art Moderne style to serve as headquarters for the Interstate Life Insurance company with a "Mad Men" era workplace.||$8,490,000|
|Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spring House||Tallahassee, FL||Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed in 1954, Spring House is the only built private residence designed by Wright in the state of Florida.||$170,000|
|Historic Wintersburg||Huntington Beach, CA||Wintersburg documents three generations of the Japanese American experience in the United States, from immigration in the late 19th century to the return from incarceration in internment camps following World War II.||$5,000,000|
|Mokuaikaua Church||Kailua Village in Kona, HI||Completed in 1837 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, Mokuaikaua Church represents the new, western-influenced architecture of early 19th century Hawaii.||N/A|
|Music Hall||Cincinatti, OH||Music Hall, designed by Samuel Hannaford, was built in 1878 with private money raised from what is believed to be the nation’s first matching-grant fund drive.||280,000,000|
|Palladium Building||St. Louis, MO||The Palladium is one of St. Louis’s last remaining buildings with a link to the city’s significant music history.||N/A|
|Shockoe Bottom||Richmond, VA||Shockoe Bottom was a center of the African slave trade between 1830 and 1865 -- over 350,000 slaves were traded there.||N/A|
|The Palisades||Englewood Cliffs, NJ||The Palisades has been cherished by the nation and residents of New York and New Jersey for generations.||N/A|
|Union Terminal||Cincinnati, OH||Union Terminal, an iconic symbol of Cincinnati and one of the most significant Art Deco structures in the country.||280,000,000|
|Federal Historic Tax Credit||*United States||Since being signed into law by President Reagan, the federal historic tax credit has attracted $109 billion to the rehabilitation of nearly 40,000 historic commercial buildings in the U.S., creating 2.4 million jobs and sparking downtown revitalization nationwide.||N/A|
Cyclists in Cincinnati will soon have a separated bike lane along Central Parkway—a major connector between neighborhoods including Downtown, the West End, and Over-the-Rhine—following a narrow City Council vote last week. On April 30th, City Council members voted 5-4 to approve the city plan with a modification, adding $110,000 to the $625,000 project. Chris Wetterich of the Cincinnati Business Courier reported the city now will pave a tree-lined right-of-way near a building in the 2100 block of Central Parkway, responding to concerns from building owner Tim Haines and his tenants. As Wetterich reported, the bike path will still be built, but it’s unclear what implications the move could have for the project’s future:
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson reluctantly supported the measure but said she fears that council set a precedent by which other businesses will expect the city to provide free on-street parking in front of their buildings.Portions of the pathway—which will run through Downtown, the West End, Over-the-Rhine, University Heights, Clifton, and Northside—have been fine-tuned before. Community feedback led to some tweaks in the design between Elm Street and Ludlow Avenue, scaling back plans to widen the street in favor of a re-striped bikeway. Construction on the protected bike lane is supposed to begin soon. The city's website says, "Spring of 2014."
From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith Cincinnati Museum of Art 953 Eden Park Drive Cincinnati, OH Through May 18 From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith consists of twenty-four pieces of silver and gold jewelry created by the Brooklyn-reared modernist jeweler Arthur Smith (1917–1982). Smith trained at Cooper Union and opened his first shop on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village in 1946. Art was an active supporter of the black and gay rights movement and early black modern dance groups. He included these themes in his works. Charles Russell, Smith’s life partner and heir donated the majority of the jewelry in the show. This collection was organized by the Brooklyn Museum, where it was originally shown in 2008. Smith’s Jewelry will be complemented by pieces by his contemporaries and archival material from the artist’s estate, such as sketches, the original shop sign, Smith’s tools, and period photographs of models wearing the jewelry. On view are thirty pieces of modernist jewelry from the permanent collection by such artists as Elsa Freund, Claire Falkenstein, Ed Weiner, and Frank Rebajes. From the Village to Vogue creates a dialogue about the thin line between craft and high art.
Although it hasn’t yet broken ground, Kansas City plans to revive a long-dormant streetcar network. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2012 to fund a 2-mile starter route from Union Station to the River Market, nearly 55 years after the city halted its original streetcar service in 1957. Now Kansas City residents are likely to vote again to help pay for streetcar construction, this time to approve taxes that would help fund a new streetcar taxing district. The measure goes to City Council on Jan. 23. The district goes far beyond the terminals of the streetcar’s starter line. As the Kansas City Star reported, it would run from State Line to I-435 and from the Missouri River to 85th Street. In a November election, voters need to approve the district and a one-cent sales tax increase there, as well as special property taxes for properties generally within about a half-mile along the actual streetcar lines. To avoid double-taxing some residents, the taxing district would replace an existing downtown transportation district currently funding some of the starter line’s construction. Streetcar expenses could reach $400 million. Some of that could be scrounged from federal dollars and other sources, but supporters say local funding is the critical first step. In Cincinnati, too, boosters of a similar streetcar plan in that city celebrated news last month that work would resume on the project after City Council members narrowly voted to halt construction. Though the governor and members of city council had previously attempted to strip the partially completed project's funding, construction has since resumed. The project is on track to finish in 2016.
Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum for seven years, announced Thursday he’ll step down. Cincinnati’s WVXU reported that the museum's board will set up a search committee, and that Betsky will help pick his successor. Betsky, an architect, oversaw the first phase of a renovation for which he helped raise more $13 million, and increased the art museum’s endowment by 18 percent. His leadership was at times controversial, as when he oversaw an exhibit by artist Todd Pavlisko that included firing a .30-caliber rifle in the 132-year-old museum’s Schmidlapp Gallery. Before moving to Cincinnati he was the Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, and previously designed for Frank Gehry. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Board chair Dave Dougherty said Betsky’s successor will need a variery of skills:
* "Someone great at exhibitions, first and foremost." * "Someone who continues to have financial discipline." * "People skills." Dougherty said the art museum is a large organization, with many tentacles, and a chance to influence the broader community. And, of course, there’s a director’s all-important fund-raising role.Betsky was a finalist for dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois, Chicago last year. That position ultimately went to Steve Everett, an Emory University professor of music. “The museum now has the programming and staff in place, and the financial stability that will allow me to openly pursue my next position,” Betsky said in a press release. “I feel that I have accomplished the goals that I and the Board had envisioned when I first arrived and would like to explore opportunities that may include or combine my academic interests and institutional experiences.”
In what the Cincinnati Enquirer called “a meeting filled with fire and suspense,” City Council voted 5-4 to halt construction on its $133 million streetcar project. The Enquirer has a breakdown of how and why, in their own words, each council member voted:
“We don’t want to waste money,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray, who voted with the majority. “This is really hard. (But) I don’t feel confident of the numbers I have.”Councilwoman Yvette Simpson nearly salvaged the plan with a proposal to keep going with $35,000 per day of streetcar construction while an independent analysis was done. Vice Mayor David Mann was ultimately unmoved by that bid. The project was a focal point in Mayor Mark Mallory's State of the City address last year, which came shortly after the 18-stop line broke ground. The route was to run from the river front through downtown and past Findley Market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Before work began, however, Ohio Governor John Kasich moved to strip the project’s funding. Cincinnati voters ultimately voted down a ballot measure that would have banned rail funding in 2011, and the light rail line was back on track. Streetcar supporters will “regroup” on potential legal action to keep the streetcar project alive.
For the first time in half a century, residents of Cincinnati and Covington, Ky. can traverse the Ohio River on foot via Roebling Bridge, thanks to a pedestrian connector reopened June 4. The Roebling Bridge Pedestrian Connector ties Cincinnati’s central riverfront, the site of some major mixed-use development of late, to the city of Covington. The $430,000 project is part of The Banks’ public infrastructure improvement program. Lane closures will accompany renovations on the north end of the bridge, where a new roundabout and traffic signal will take a few months to complete. Pedestrians, however, can walk on through. Let's just hope a certain New York City mayoral candidate doesn't confuse the Roebling Bridge with its big brother in Brooklyn and snap a photo for his website!