Cincinnati, Ohio’s West End is a neighborhood that lies to the north of the city center, east of Queensgate, west of Over-the-Rhine, and south of Fairview. The population in the year 2020 was 6,824. Due to the massive demolition of the historic West End in the 1950s and 1960s, the population plummeted from 68,000 in 1950 to 18,000 in 1970. In order to make way for the expansion of Interstate 75 and other urban renewal initiatives, this area was razed.
Kenyon-Barr Renewal Plan was the largest of these urban renewal programs. By demolishing the Lower West End between the years of 1959 and 1973, this strategy created the industrial district of Queensgate. The construction of Queensgate took almost 40 years to complete in stages. The Queensgate I development produced a generic but prosperous business district with a mix of office buildings, hotels, and restaurants alongside service and light manufacturing businesses, transit hubs, and warehouses. The combined efforts of I-75 and Queensgate were the second largest “slum clearing” in the United States at the time. About 3,700 structures on about 450 acres were destroyed. An estimated 9800 households, or 27,000 people, were uprooted, with 97% of those affected being persons of African descent.
City West, Cincinnati’s largest home development project since World War II, is located in the West End. Due to this development effort, a formerly low-income neighborhood is now coexisting with residents from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Many of the dilapidated, overcrowded structures were demolished in 1999 to make way for modern townhouses with plenty of parking. As a percentage of total crimes, section 1 offenses dropped by 30 percent in 2007 as compared to 1999.
In 2005, it was revealed that a $15 million “one-stop” social services complex would be built at 800 Bank Street. This caused an uproar. Cincinnati’s largest of its kind, CityLink is a massive construction project. Critics said that doing so would lead to a rise in West End crime and poverty while also lowering property values and threatening ongoing efforts to revitalize the area. Even more extreme claims were made, with some saying the city was actively seeking to move the impoverished out of the prosperous Over-the-Rhine area and into the West End. A counterargument was that the West End’s convenient location made it a good place for the poor to live.
Legal action to halt the construction of CityLink was unsuccessful, and an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court was also rejected. Since opening in 2013, CityLink Center has served over 3,000 people in the Cincinnati area, including over 250 people from the West End. Over 14 different organizations are located within the facility, allowing participants to receive comprehensive assistance in one location. There has been no uptick in criminal activity as a result of CityLink Center’s construction, and in fact, construction has only proceeded and property prices have risen.