Commonly referred to as “OTR,” Over-the-Rhine is a subarea of Cincinnati, Ohio. Over-the-Rhine has traditionally been a working-class area. It’s one of the largest, best-preserved urban historic districts in the USA.

Over-the-Rhine, a former working-class German neighborhood now home to craft breweries, hip gastropubs, and trendy bars is dotted with beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings. Findlay Market, established in the 1860s, is a popular shopping destination for locals thanks to its array of independent retailers and farmers’ market that operates on the weekends. Cincinnati’s symphony orchestra performs in the historic Music Hall, and the city’s residents and visitors alike enjoy the park’s fountains and annual festivals.

The majority of the area’s inhabitants in the middle of the nineteenth century were Germans, hence the name of the neighborhood. The Miami and Erie Canal separated this neighborhood from central Cincinnati, thus many residents traveled to work across the canal’s bridges. In honor of the Rhine River in Germany, the canal was dubbed “the Rhine,” and the area to the north of the canal was dubbed “Over the Rhine.” Über den Rhein was the German name for the neighborhood.

In his book, White, Red, Black, published in 1853, traveler Ferenc Pulszky referred to the canal as “the Rhine” because “the Germans live all together across the Miami Canal, which is, therefore, here jocosely called the ‘Rhine.'” Even as late as 1875, author Daniel J. Kenny always referred to the region as “Over the Rhine.” Noting that the area is popularly referred to by both Germans and Americans as “Over the Rhine,” he said. The canal was filled in and covered over by Central Parkway; the resulting tunnel was supposed to be used for the abandoned Cincinnati Subway.

Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, was established in the nineteenth century during a time of massive German immigration, but after World War II, many of its residents left for the suburbs. Many of the manufacturing jobs that used to sustain the city and its residents have disappeared. The region had become notorious for its destitution at the turn of the century. In response to critical needs, locals banded together to form numerous rescue groups. After years of instability, the area has benefited from extensive reconstruction to the tune of many millions of dollars.

The Cincinnati neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine, scene of the city’s riots in 2001, rose to the top of the city’s most dangerous areas rankings by 2009. Nonetheless, gentrification efforts have been substantial as of late. Corporations specializing in urban renewal and city officials have began working together to improve a low-income area plagued by high crime and unemployment. To revitalize and update this region, a neoliberal urban renewal approach advocates for private firms to do so rather than the city government.

Together with the city government and local businesses, the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (CCDDC) is a private, non-profit real-estate development and financing organization dedicated to reviving Cincinnati’s urban core. In particular, it concentrates on the downtown area and the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. A lot of people give this group the credit for breathing new life into OTR. Originally founded as a real estate development firm, it has expanded to organize over a thousand annual events in the four public places it oversees.

Olivia’s Kitchens of Cincinnati