Washington Park — 2014 Urban Open Space Finalist

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ABOUT Washington Park

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Owner: Cincinnati Park Board
Designer: Human Nature, Inc.
Size: 8 acres

Washington Park was a cemetery before the City purchased the land in 1855, reinterred the remains elsewhere and turned it into a park. In the century to follow, the surrounding neighborhood was built by German immigrants who affectionately referred to the Miami-Erie Canal that divided the neighborhood from the business district as the “Rhine.” The neighborhood became known as “Over the Rhine.” What followed was a series of well known historic indicators: anti-German sentiment after WWII, increasing popularity of motorcars, subsidized housing boom, the Federal voucher system and, ultimately, decaying buildings, high vacancy rates and crime. Washington Park followed suit, suffering through decades of disinvestment and criminal activity. Recognizing the value of the neighborhood’s historic buildings and the negative impact of the criminal element on the business district, the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) and the City of Cincinnati began to turn the neighborhood around, ultimately leading Washington Park through a $48M renovation that would transform the neighborhood.

Today the 8-acre park has been called the most democratic site in the region, attracting all strata of socioeconomics and demographics to its varied features, including a grand civic lawn the size of a football field, a permanent performance stage, a 7,000 SF water feature with 130 pop jets, a renovated civil war era bandstand, an enclosed children’s playground, and a fenced-in dog park. The park is programmed with free events and activities throughout the year.

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