I've read a study describing how a trip to Disney World is similar to a pilgrimage. Title caught my imagination because I've always described living in Cincinnati as a paid vacation to Disney World. And if you've ever been to my hometown of Youngstown, you'd realize I'm not even being dramatic.
Once at Disney World a visitor's journey takes a special form of transportation, a monorail, to the various parks of the Magic Kingdom. The parks are divided up with contrasting themes; past vs. the future, and childhood vs. adolescence.
How does this relate to my experience? Visiting downtown transcends the ordinary. When people have a special occasion, or they're looking for a unique experience where do they go? The strip mall outside their subdivision probably isn't the first place that springs to mind. Who doesn't remember, as a child, the thrill of going to the big city? Many people spend the rest of their lives trying to recreate that thrill and pass it on to their kids. One could easily make the comparison of Downtown and OTR to Disney. Replace the past and future with OTR and The Banks and childhood and adolescence with Smale Park, Fountain Square and Washington Park and all the bars and restaurants.
And the monorail visitors love to ride? That is easy, replace it with the streetcar.
Detractors love to say Cincinnati's streetcar is only a big loop. Like that is a bad thing. What could be more symbolic? Most of Disney World's parks are circular. And just like a Disney park, visitors are symbolically passing through time and enacting different parts of the American ideal. From modern skyscrapers to civil war era buildings in OTR to world class and award winning parks. downtown/OTR has something for everyone, is it any wonder why it has such a magnetic draw?
At the end of their trip, visitors might call their experience a vacation or a staycation but there is an older term, a pilgrimage.