My visit to Cincinnati started as most of my trips involving Suzie seem to; going to her house to pick her up and then going away from there. Â There are probably other things in Covington, Kentucky, but to me, it consists of a gas station, a Red Robin, and a driveway next to a brick house that a friend of mine sometimes sleeps in (the house not the driveway). Â Another friend of mine had gotten us an obscenely cheap room at a hotel in downtown Cincinnati and after depositing our things Suzie and I went to the top of the Carew Tower, the second highest building in Cincinnati to, well, see things. Â The tower itself is a standard steel skyscraper with brick facing built during the inter-war years in a not-terribly-ballsy style of Art Deco that was gimped by the Great Depression. Â I imagine I would have loved the building the tower could have been but the brass accents and mail drops in the elevator banks remind one of what could have been.
After a brief breakdown ofÂ arithmeticÂ from the cashier at the observation deck, the cityscape was ours.
I think Cincinnati is at its best when it remembers that its heritage is as a 19th century boomtown and the city relives that boom every half-century or so. Â Right now, it’s coming out of another such swing in development that saw billions dumped into developing the downtown area but in a way that the city isn’t aware of itself. Â Since structures are changing, buildings don’t know what’s next to them and there hasn’t been enough time between revamps for an organic patina of similarity to develop. Â The buildings could be picked up and re-arranged and you’d have the same city in a way that’d never fly in Chicago or even Tampa.
Rust and packman.
While on the observation deck, Chris Dodds informed me that he had started fasterthanterry.com. Â Suzie caught my reaction:
Downtown is captivating from street-level and tiny splotches of modernity abut the wealth of development. Â The city has a history but one that it needs to remind the resident of rather than one that is obvious. Â Each element feels ad-hoc and I think that confusion stems partly from geography.
And like any city of reasonable size, Cincinnati has its juxtapositions.
Our evening adventure was visiting the light displays at the Cincinnati Zoo. Â These were neither the displays I am used to at Shady Brook Farms nor the accent pieces I’m used to from the Philadelphia Zoo but simply a lot of lights. Â 1/2 of the displays were open and the Zoo seemed quite busy. Â I wanted to get a shot of the main tree and only through a combination of patience and giving people with smart phones the stink eye did I get a clear shot. Â A non-HDR shot with which I am happy.
The night was warm and we were moving quickly so it didn’t feel terribly holiday-ey, but still, there were illuminated candy canes, outlines of animals, and golden bamboo.
After doing a lap of the park we tried to leave and somehow failed to find the exit after two full rounds. Â I feel like someone should cut a corner off my Orienteering merit badge card. Â On the penultimate round we stopped by the elephant hut where I took no pictures. Â I have little compunction about photographing animals but am rarely happy with pictures of elephants as I can never convey what I consider their intrinsic dignity. Â With the loss of theÂ PleistoceneÂ megafauna, the animal kingdom only has a handful of land animals that break a ton. Â Of these, only the elephant breaks 10 tons and represents to me the idea of “this is what land-based animal life can be”. Â The eye of an elephant is only about a cm larger than a humans despite two orders of magnitude difference in size. Â I tend to stare at eyes and hands in people and I wonder if this relatively small ocular size gap misregisters their mass to me.
We finally made a right at the correctÂ SantaÂ and made it past the Winter Post Station and into the baffle of ropes back to the main street. Â After dinner and soft serve we retired back to the hotel room and in defiance of all our previous interactions we were both a sleep before 11 PM. Â Good day.
[flickr album=72157628266593793 num=30 size=Thumbnail]