Discover more from The 981 Project
Your Germans, your floodwall murals, your indie book store!
During my June motorcycle sojourn along the Ohio River, I spent a couple of days in walkable Covington, Kentucky, home to the south shore of the Roebling Bridge. Cincinnati is on the other side.
You may feel you've seen this bridge before if you've seen Roebling’s Brooklyn Bridge in New York. But Cincinnati-Covington’s predates Brooklyn’s by 14 years—think of this one as a model for the larger one in New York. Both are National Historic Landmarks, are defined by their iconic stone towers and suspension cables, and feature pedestrian footpaths.
Dedicated readers know I love me some floodwall murals! The foot of the Roebling Bridge is home to eighteen that document the city’s history from 8000 B.C. to 2008 A.D. Here’s an Instagram live video I took of the murals while I was there. Oh, you’re not following me on the ‘gram? Easily fixed!
If you take your kids to see the murals, be sure to download the scavenger hunt that goes with them. I’ve pictured half of the questions here.
One thing you can’t miss in the Cincinnati-Covington-Newport area is the German influence, including our favorite bridge engineer. John Roebling immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1831 along with others in the professional/intellectual class who fled the political revolutions that flared up after losing the Great War (WWI).
Ohio recognized this influx if immigrants by authorizing the printing of state law and its constitution in German. Hm, imagine that in 2023—honoring a large immigrant population with important documents in their native tongue. But wait! There’s more! In 1840, Cincinnati created the first public school system that taught in both German and English, showing that Germans were welcome in the city.
In the half-dozen books I’ve read about Germans in the Ohio Valley region, experts agree they were anti-nativist and favored a bottom-up system of governance, which is why monarchies and other top-down institutions were under attack in the Old Country. This philosophy naturally led them to hold abolitionist views, and therefore, to support the Union in the Civil War.
Other German cultural landmarks in Covington include:
Mutter Gottes Kirche “Mother of God Church”
Mother of God Church Cemetery, final resting place of many Catholic clergy
In a couple of fascinating books by University of Cincinnati’s Don Heinrich Tolzmann, I learned that the Cincinnati metropolitan area, including Covington and Newport, is one of the three corners of what’s known as the “German Triangle” of the Midwest, with the other two being Milwaukee and St. Louis.
How can I possibly praise Roebling Books and Coffee to the extent it deserves? Their book-buyer, Emily, immediately jibed with my 981 Project, as well as the book I’m writing on race in the Ohio Valley, and recommended perfect titles for my library. THANK YOU!!