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Rick Pender to sign copies of new book, Oldest Cincinnati, on Aug. 28 at Roebling Point Books

Local author Rick Pender will be presenting and signing copies of his book, Oldest Cincinnati, on Saturday, August 28 at Roebling Point Books & Coffee 11 a.m. to noon.

The event is free and open to the public.

Late in 18th-century America people began to head west in search of new frontiers and new lives. Many of them, including immigrants, found their way down the Ohio River to Cincinnati, Ohio, the “Queen City of the West.” One of the first settlements in the Northwest Territory, called “Losantiville” before it was dubbed Cincinnati, was established 15 years before Ohio became the 17th state in the Union (1803). There’s lots of history and firsts to be found locally.

A ferry that helped early settlers cross the Ohio River to Augusta, Kentucky, began in 1798; it’s still in business. A stagecoach inn that began providing shelter for early travelers opened in Lebanon, Ohio, in 1803 and continues today. The first museum — focused on natural history and science — was launched in 1818. It is now located in Cincinnati’s oldest train station. In 1866 the oldest bridge across the Ohio River connected downtown Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky. The oldest art museum west of the Allegheny Mountains opened in 1881.

The character of Cincinnati dramatically changed in the mid-19th century as German immigrants came in waves. (Between 1840 and 1890, the German-born population grew from 3,500 to 174,000.) They brewed beer, of course, but they also loved music, launching the oldest choral music festival in the Western Hemisphere. Cincinnati was the birthplace of professional fire-fighting and professional baseball. Read about all of these and more in this informative book that brings history and people to life.

Here are a few highlights:

 Lots of Cincinnatians know that the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge was an early suspension bridge, the longest in the world when it opened in 1866. And they can brag that the Cincinnati Reds were the first professional baseball team. They might know that Ohio’s oldest public market is Findlay Market, dating back to 1855, located in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Before people lived in what is today Northern Kentucky — around 10,000 B.C. — buffalo migrated south annually across the Ohio River at a natural sandstone ford at the mouth of the Licking River. That’s where Cincinnati is situated today, and those “buffalo roads” became what is today called the “Dixie Highway” (aka U.S 27, U.S. 42, U.S 25 and KY 17). So, buffalo were the region’s first traffic engineers.

Rick Pender

Indigenous people probably lived in the region 12,000 years ago, but the earliest historic record of a native culture is the Adena people, who originated around 800 B.C. They left an unusual earthen structure, the world’s largest effigy mound, 1,376 feet long and nearly 2,000 years old. It’s called the Great Serpent Mound because it appears to be a curling snake. The site in Adams County, east of Cincinnati, was discovered in 1848 and excavated in1883 by Frederic Ward Putnam, the “Father of American Archaeology.”

The Cincinnati Observatory in Mt. Lookout is the “Birthplace of American Astronomy.” It was the first public observatory in the Western Hemisphere, and it houses a working telescope from 1843, one of the oldest in the world. Cleveland Abbe, the facility’s astronomer in the late 1860s devised a system to collect weather information: When Congress created the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1870, he became its first meteorologist.

Cincinnati’s German immigrants in the 19th century loved to sing in choruses. In 1878 the Cincinnati May Festival was established. It’s the city’s oldest arts organization as well as the oldest choral festival in the Western Hemisphere. Cincinnati’s glorious Music Hall, which opened in 1878 as one of the largest in America, was built for annual choral concerts performed by immense volunteer choruses. Today a 130-voice volunteer group of singers train year-round for springtime concerts accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, itself America’s fifth oldest orchestra.
Oldest Cincinnati is available wherever books are sold. It is $20.95.
A Cincinnati historian, journalist, author, tour guide and urban resident, Rick Pender has studied and promoted aspects of Greater Cincinnati for more than four decades. A northeast Ohio native, he moved to southwest Ohio in 1980 where he has happily lived in several historic neighborhoods. His 2016 book 100 Things to Do in Cincinnati Before You Die was so well received that a second edition was published three years later. He continues to write about theater and other arts and to guide tours that introduce visitors to Cincinnati’s fascinating history.


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