The fog is creeping in around the Fog Bar.
After a weekend of sweltering heat (air conditioners and fans are SOLD OUT in Rockland!), we’re back to a rather brisk 60. We haven’t tried this funky (trendy-casual?) bar yet, but it’s on our list!
Over-the-Rhine in Downtown Cincinnati, OH, has a long, rich, and often muddy history, a past of immigration, of social change and social distortion, of rises and falls and culture clashes and cultural reconciliation.
It’s here amid the brick and mortar that Cincinnati’s personality, a pasticcio of young and vintage, of Old World and New, of music and art and passion and violence and destitution and wealth, and of black and white and everything in between, really begins to shine.
This dinky little story tucked away on Race Street in Downtown Cincinnati has been there for as far back as I can remember. It survived economic downturns and through two decades of mass urban exodus in Ohio. Few businesses have been able to maintain a constant presence in Cincinnati, but those that have are now enjoying new customers and new ideas as part of the Great Cincy Revitalization.
Today, this small, family-run storefront offers shoppers a variety of custom leather goods (most notably, personalized motorcycle seats), as well as casual hip-hop and evening wear.
We hit up Seattle and the surrounds for the 4th of July weekend, so in typical Pardo fashion, as soon as we checked in to our delightful international hotel — catering to Asian businessmen and tea-and-crumpets Brits — around noon, we made a B-line for the baseball and beer.
We stopped in at Seattle’s oldest saloon, Central Saloon, not to be confused with Seattle’s oldest restaurant and bar, Merchant’s Cafe, which just reopened from a short hiatus in 2010. Central Saloon has been open since 1892 but didn’t originally serve food; Merchant’s has always been a food establishment since opening day in 1890. Central was raucously quiet, with several patrons nursing hangovers with beer and eggs and various forms of gravy.
We then made our way, via Elysian Brewing Company, to Safeco Field for a Seattle Mariners game.
We elected to save some money and sit in the bleachers, which were crowded but arguably better seats than half of those in the ballpark.
We were right over the dugout and could hear the coaches discussing strategy. We always sit in the front row, no matter what the section, as I hate having to almost kick people in the head while fidgeting, like I do.
The view from our $20 bleacher seats:
I highly recommend sitting there if you hit up Safeco Field.
We went to go get a couple of beers, and I (Kat) saw this chic posing in shadow. It was too cool NOT to take a photo of it, even if that makes me slightly stalker-like. After the game, we meandered back to our hotel via Pyramid Brewing Company and an oyster bar, before getting dressed up and heading to a seafood place on the docks for a light, romantic dinner.
Definitely an advantage of the big city over a small Wyoming town: I don’t feel out of place wearing a 50′s swing dress and a hat with a birdcage veil.
It’s a story of renewal and rediscovery.
Like many 20-somethings hailing from Cincinnati, I hadn’t been to Findlay Market since I was a kid, taking trips there as part of my “cultural education” in a public elementary school. It had odd hours, was in the middle of Over-the-Rhine, an historic, crumbling neighborhood we were supposed to always avoid. Fresh produce and butcher shops sat side-by-side with a police presence meant to limit the numbers of shootings and drug transactions and succeeded in making everyone feel more than a little out of their element.
But then my parents became part of an urban revitalization movement, and they picked up and bought a condo in OTR. A lot of people thought they were crazy. I figured they were just more hip than everyone else. And I wondered what ever happened to Findlay Market.
Turns out nothing happened to it. The state’s oldest continuously-operated public market — open for business since 1855 — has always been there, providing fresh fruit and crispy vegetables, prime cut meats and warm bread, beans, pastas, spices, flour, rice, soap, flowers — all to both neighborhood dwellers and suburbanites alike. Now, it’s finding a new niche for the growing population of proud and diverse residents of ORT who are beginning to defy the stereotypes of this once-shunned center of artistic innovation and architectural splendor.
This modern souk that rivals, in grit and color and the smells of urban life, any within the walled medinas of Morocco, has grown to include not only bakeries, butcher shops, spice stores, produce stands, fish stores and a seasonal farmer’s market, but now also serves coffee, gelato, gourmet dog treats, arts and crafts booths, waffles and crepes, a Vietnamese restaurant, and even a beer garden on weekends.
What always starts out as a quiet morning sipping coffee, nibbling on a pastry and reading the latest Street Vibes, inevitably awakens into a cacophonous afternoon of street vendors and shoppers and children looking for ice cream after school and business people catching up after work and street performers with drums and trumpets and sometimes coal and canvas and a whole slew of people just taking it all in.
Some people come, list in hand, ready to find those odd ingredients for a dinner party.
Others are just looking for inspiration.
Everyone seems to know each other, as if you’ve stepped into a neighborhood bar, and they greet one another as friends or colleagues or simply as fellow urbanites, secrets shared by those who have escaped the ordinary.
Findlay Market is open Tuesday through Sunday all year round. Saturday is the biggest day, best for people watching while having a beer or attending a wine tasting at Market Wines.
There is ample parking within a couple of blocks, but for everyone who lives downtown, it’s a surprisingly nice walk through some parts of OTR you’ve probably never seen before. You can see buildings, including those surrounding the currently-under-renovation Washington Park, in all stages of reinvention and revitalization, and you can really get a feel for what this area used to be and what it will become again.
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