Washington Park Cincinnati – Then and Now
Washington Park has become a Cincinnati favorite for residents and tourists alike!
Although it’s now bustling with attractions and year-round events, Washington Park hasn’t always been the attractive Cincinnati hotspot that it is today.
Washington Park History
The city purchased Washington Park in 1855, and began construction in the 1860s. Located at 1230 Elm Street, the park is an iconic landmark of Historic Over-the-Rhine.
In the Park’s heyday, there were a number of attractions to enjoy including bandstands, walkways lined with benches, and a number of bodies of water.
Prohibition Toll on Washington Park
During the Prohibition the population of Over-the-Rhine declined rapidly. A once glamorous city neighborhood, it began to fall into ruin like a lot of other neighborhoods in Cincinnati.
From the Great Depression throughout World War II, Washington Park deteriorated and remained defunct through the turn of the century.
Until 2012 it seems the space was more of a wasteland than a park. Washington Park was riddled with crime, drugs and a place where the homeless population took refuge.
As Steve Shuckman, the Division Manager of Planning and Design at the Cincinnati Park Board, told WCPO in 2014, “Washington Park was a historic park, but it looked it’s age…People from outside the neighborhood probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time in the park.”
New Life For Washington Park
An opportunity arose when Washington Park Elementary School was demolished along 14th Street in 2007. The land was then given to the Cincinnati Park Board.
In the following year, plans to revitalize the Park began to take hold. A public-private partnership was created between the City of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Park Board, and 3CDC.
Within a few years, a master plan took shape, and construction on Washington Park began. With the new land acquired from the elementary school, the Park expanded from five to eight acres.
Washington Park’s pool was demolished and replaced with a fountain, and a 450-space parking garage was also built. The renovation and expansion was a $48 million project.
Thousands of people gathered in Washington Park for the grand opening in July of 2012.
Washington Park Today
Today, over 500 events are hosted in the park annually!
“No one expected that the bar would be up (so high),” Shuckman told WCPO. “We thought it would be a great new park, but to walk in here and see the smile on people’s faces…I don’t think any of us expected this kind of reaction.”
With the addition of a dog park, comfort station, and an amazing playground, Washington Park is a welcoming attraction in Cincinnati for all ages.
Throughout the year Washington Park hosts plenty of family-fun events including live music, markets, outdoor fitness classes, children’s activities, and so much more.
The Porch – Washington Park’s Bar
Washington Park wants to keep it cool, so be sure to stop by The Porch for a nice cold beverage.
Choose from Coca-Cola products, beer, wine, seltzer, and liquor featuring brands like Taft’s Ale House, Rhinegeist Brewery, Fifty West Brewing Company, Bud Light, Heineken, White Claw, Prophecy, and Dark Horse.
When: Mondays-Thursdays at 4-9 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 11-10 PM, Sundays at 11-9 PM
Washington Park – The “Central Park” of Cincinnati
Washington Park represents OTR in a way to me. It’s kind of like the Central Park of Cincinnati.
I’ve taken my son on play dates there numerous times, and it never gets old. It’s so much fun to relax in the sun as the kids splash in the fountain and play on the playground.
There’s endless greenspace for running and exploration.
What Do You Love About Washington Park Cincinnati?
My guess is you’ve been to Washington Park Cincinnati at least once in your life, but if you haven’t check it out as soon as possible! Catch a concert, workout, or just grab a drink at The Porch. You won’t run out of things to do.
What do you love about Washington Park? Have you been to any of the free events hosted there?
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