A Team of Rivals

On the football field, we hope the Steelers certainly grab a tiger or two by the tail when they lineup against the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2010 NFL season. But off the gridiron, we're here to tell you that the city and people of Cincinnati are a lot like all the place we love best — Pittsburgh.

Just last week we took a trip down the Ohio River — which starts here at the Point —  to visit the town once called "Porkopolis" because of all pigs farms and slaughterhouse nearby. That nickname stuck until Chicago took on the title of "Hog Butcher to the World." These days, the locals like to call their hometown the "Queen City," because that's how Longfellow referred to it in one of his classic poems about the city's natural beauty.

Anyway, enough of the History Channel lessons because we learned that Cincinnati is a thoroughly modern city that is sprucing up its downtown just like we're doing here in Pittsburgh. During our visit, we meet with some of the great folks who run the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, which is their version of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Also known as the 3CDC, the organization is transforming Cincy's Fountain Square, a traditional meeting place that reminds us a lot of our very own Market Square.

Well, this Fountain Square — just like our Market Square — is surrounded by amazing shops and restaurants and gleaming new skyscrapers. And the fountain is so amazingly beautiful that we wanted to jump in to make a big splash. With the water babbling in the background, we sat there with our Cincinnati counterparts and some similar folks from Newark to swap notes on what we're all doing to make our downtowns more welcoming, vibrant and exciting.

What we discovered is that we're more alike than you might imagine. For instance the 3CDC realized that keeping public spaces clean is a team game, a challenge they tackled with their version of our Clean Team. Then they added some shade and color to their square with new trees and floral plantings. Sounds familiar, right? And while we were chatting, one of the 3CDC people mentioned that they have had weddings in Fountain Square. Of course, we had to brag that only a month after the Market Square renovation opened the space, we hosted our first wedding a few weeks ago...

Now we're plenty proud of Market Square and wouldn't trade it for anything. But we did suffer some "big screen" envy when we viewed the giant outdoor LCD monitor above Fountain Square. All we kept thinking was how cool it would be to have our own enormous TV in Market Square to watch the Steelers shred the Cincy Bungles on Monday Night Football on November 8. Well, you can join us for the game at any number of watering holes and eateries in the Square where Black and Gold fans will gather to watch the game.  You might try... Primanti Brothers, Moe's Southwest Grill, The Original Oyster House and Las Velas.

But the real "win" of our trip to the Queen City was making new friends and discovering how so many others are working to make their cities someplace special.

Photo of Fountain Square courtesy of David Robillard. 

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