CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Bill Lindeke visited last summer and writes: "Of all places I have walked, Cincinnati has the saddest sidewalks in the world. I've never felt such pangs of regret, of my last summer's Amtrak through Chicago, DC, Savannah, Durham and New London."
Lindeke, who is working on an MA in geography at the University of Minnesota, wrote a lengthy and powerful review of his stroll through the Queen City, which he found too sterile, too "auto-oriented" a place for walking and soaking up and relishing the urban atmosphere. There are plenty of pictures accompanying his entertaining and fascinating article. The Minneapolis/St. Paul writer didn't hate the city, he just felt it could be better if it tried harder. Sample:
"If they are similar, though, Cincinnati seems to me a Twilight Zone version of the Twin Cities where everything urban has gone wrong. When I did some research on the city before going there, everything said that I need to get to Fountain Square, which was the heart of downtown. It was most disappointing. The fountain had been moved and de-centered a few years back, and today it lays surrounded by a desert of poured concrete, hemmed by the tall dull facades of bland office buildings. There was an occasional group of people hanging around the fountain, but it largely had the feel of the many lifeless institutional modernist plazas that dot landscape of American cities like measles (e.g. Hennepin County Gov't center, which is actually far more lively than Fountain Square)."
OK, it is one outsider's opinion. But it is thoughtful, well researched and written not to slam but to point out that the square seems "institutional" despite well-intentioned efforts to put some life back onto the city's sidewalks. But that's not all Lindeke has to offer. He trouped all over downtown and the nearby neighborhoods. From his vantage point on Cincinnati's sidewalks, Lindeke puts into words a sense of the city's flavor, a sense of what a visitor on a leisurely stroll actually encounters.