does Cincinnati have a self esteem issue?

When we hit Portland one of the places Ms 5chw4r7z wanted to try was Vodoo Doughnut. If you're on social media and follow people who travel you can't avoid the place. I've been seeing pictures of lines out the door for years. We tracked the place down, paid our dues in line and got our donuts. I have to say if I had ate them a year ago they would have been the greatest donuts I've ever tasted. But since Holtman's opened in OTR they're just awesome donuts, just as good as Holtman's.
Which got me thinking, there was a social media frenzy after Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives featuring OTR and a Cincinnati story in the New York Magazine.
Cincinnati has a self esteem issue. are we a little too desperate for validation?
The more I've traveled the more I've come to appreciate just how awesome the Queen City is.
The food scene is second to none, Cincinnati has architecture with a sense of history other cities would kill for.
Why does Cincinnati care so much about what everyone else thinks?
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Vodoo Donut
Vodoo Donut
Vodoo Donut
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  1. Because our brand outside the city is not what it should be. Places like Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Savannah, Asheville, Indianapolis, Nashville, etc are WAY ahead of Cincinnati in the sense that people outside of the city are aware of them, know they have something worth visiting or moving for. Until our national identity grows - local businesses will continue to have a hard time recruiting talent, and we won't get the tourist traffic we deserve.

    Our 19th century architecture and neighborhoods ARE the differentiator - there's nothing like this in ANY of those other cities. No other city west of DC has the density, narrow streets, and intact urban historic district of Cincinnati. If you've been to Lower Manhattan, Philadelphia, Baltimore or DC, you know that Over-the-Rhine (and some of our other older neighborhoods - been to Camp Washington lately?) looks like if could be on the East Coast. That's because Cincinnati was built at the same time as those other places. From 1830 - 1900 Cincinnati was one of the 10 biggest cities in the NATION!

    We have to focus on what makes us special and different as those places. Holtman's is terrific, and all the restaurants are great to have, and a streetcar, and two professional sports teams, and a bikeshare. But those things only make us EQUAL to many other places. What makes us different? Our historic neighborhoods, the architecture, the beer history and revival. (And our arts -- the music, museums, dance, theatre, and more. But that's a different rant.)

    We SHOULD promote what makes us unique and special - otherwise, people will continue to choose those other places. We NEED a new national identity.

  2. This is funny, I have a semi similar post scheduled for Thursday.
    I think Margy is discussing what Eric Voegelin would call the Cincinnati cosmion.
    Anyway, there was a pride in Cincinnati as late as the 80s when I first moved here. A conceit to a great extent. But there's also an attitude of, 'there's a place for everything' and the basin is not a nice place to live nor entertain, never has been and never will be. Locals can't seem to grasp that places have changed.
    I have known locals who think the town is flat out ugly. People from out of town tend to find it beautiful.
    Had relatives from Rapid City in last weekend, they were old & had mobility issues so we just did a drive thru. Did Hyde Park, Walnut Hills, Clifton, OTR, downtown, Lytle Park, Northside, College Hill, Covington, Newport - hung out at Union Terminal for awhile & ate Graeter's.
    They were very impressed.
    They said they wanted to see the run down ghettos they knew the big city would have. We regretted to inform them that they had just seen them.
    I giess it's nice to know our worst was the only thing that disappointed them...

  3. Great question. Having lived here 25 years, I still tend to see Cincinnati as an outsider.

    As for the question about why Cincinnati and Cincinnatians look so much for outside validation, my guess is that it's an ethnic thing, ultimately. I read somewhere that 60% of the residents of Hamilton County have some degree of ethnic German background, which is very high compared to other cities and regions. This would suggest that among the white population here, something like 70-75 percent of them have some German heritage.

    Because the Germans here were treated so outrageously bad -- cast as "outsider," "Huns" and the enemy during the World War I war frenzy, that clearly had an impact. After being stereotyped and ostracized, in effect blamed (unfairly) for starting a World War, it appears that this left much of the German-American community in the USA feeling beseiged and therefore wanting to prove their "American-ness."

    With so many German Americans concentrated here, I suspect that caused this feeling in this community more likely to leave an imprint on the entire metro area. It also left Cincinnati a bit more insular as a result, I would argue.

    Another part of this, I believe, is the large amount of out-migration that we have seen out of this region, especially since World War II. When my wife and I moved here in 1988 from New England, we were struck by the large number of older couples (people then in their 50s and 60s, now in their 70s and 80s) among the professional class whose children had left Cincinnati after high school, never to return. This phenomenon we found to be true in both the white and black communities of Cincinnati.

    Obviously, if people in other regions notice that everybody seems (to them) to be leaving Cincinnati, rather than moving there, it leaves them with the impression that Cincinnati has nothing to offer.

    I think that in the future, Cincinnati will "get over" this inferiority complex to the degree that it succeeds in keeping more of its ambitious 18-25 year olds. If that happens, a lot of good things will flow from that.