Situated on the northern bank of the Ohio River on the Ohio-Kentucky border, Cincinnati was settled in 1788. Ringed by seven gentle hills, the city's riverside location made it a central point for westward expansion and trade. By 1820, young Cincinnati became America's first major "boom town," soon rivaling east coast cities in size and wealth. Known as one of the first major inland United States cities to be established without heavy European influence, Cincinnati is often thought of as the first truly American city.
Over 200 years after its founding, the city has expanded well beyond its original seven hills, with a city population of over 365,000 residents and over two million people calling the greater metropolitan area home. Holding on to its American heritage, Cincinnati is home to many professional sports teams including a baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, and an NFL football team, the Cincinnati Bengals. Today, the paddle wheelers, which used to crowd the docks of the city as it ferried products and people during the 19th century, continue to cruise the waters of the Ohio River as sightseeing vessels. Every year, riverboats from ports all along the Ohio and Mississippi travel to Cincinnati to celebrate their colorful heritage during the Tall Stacks Festival.
Cincinnati plays host to numerous other festivals throughout the year. Every April the Cincinnati Horticultural Society holds one of the largest outdoor flower shows in the United States on the shores of Lake Como at Coney Island. During the summer months, nearly 500,000 people gather to attend the annual Taste of Cincinnati and Jazz Festival. In the fall, Cincinnati celebrates its German heritage with Oktoberfest, the 2nd largest festival of its kind in the world, while more than 400,000 spectators gather to watch the Labor Day weekend fireworks display in conjunction with the Cincinnati Bell/WEBN Riverfest. Regardless of the time of year, there is always something extra to entertain visitors in this happening city.
Aside from its exciting events, Cincinnati offers a wide array of world-class cultural attractions. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Cincinnati "a town of best-kept secrets" because of its modern approach to architecture, food and attitude. The Cincinnati Art Museum stands head to head with New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Chicago Institute of Art. The new Aronoff Center for the Arts attracts headliners such as Broadway musical West Side Story and comedy superstar Chris Rock. Spacious Eden Park, the city's premiere green space, is home to the award-winning Krohn Conservatory and Gardens, as well as the nationally ranked Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the 2nd oldest zoo in America. The legendary Purple People Bridge has re-opened as a pedestrian bridge and a special attraction for thrill seekers. Instead of simply walking across the bridge, visitors can now climb across the bridge's catwalk for an unforgettable, heart-pounding experience 140 feet above the river.
Famous for its creative cuisine and thriving cultural scene, Cincinnati has received many accolades. Forbes magazine named Cincinnati the best city for nightlife in the region, based on its large number of restaurants, bars and nightclubs per capita. Try some of Cincinnati's notorious chili at Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili or Dixie Chili. With over 140 chili restaurants to choose from, visitors are bound to find the perfect bowl to satisfy their appetites. Cool the palette with a scoop of refreshingly sweet ice cream from Graeter's Ice Cream, founded in 1870. Slice into a steak cooked to perfection at the Precinct, recognized for serving some of the best steaks in the city from its location in a former police station. Cap off the evening by relaxing to the smooth sounds of jazz at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, the oldest such venue in Cincinnati. Though the city continues to evolve into a modern metropolis, it has clearly not forgotten its roots as a kind, quaint Midwestern town.