Over-the-Rhine is a place where a building owner can stumble upon huge caverns underneath a basement floor or find long-forgotten tunnels that travel far below city streets. Its present mysteries are attributable to a past that transcends the common story of how cities change over time: it is the story of how a clash between immigrants and “real Americans” helped rob Cincinnati of its image, its soul and its economy. In the 1870s, OTR was comparable to the cultural hearts of Paris and Vienna. By the turn of the last century, the neighborhood was home to roughly three hundred saloons and had over a dozen breweries within or adjacent to its borders. It was beloved by countless citizens and travelers for the exact reasons that others successfully sought to destroy it. This is the story of how the heart of the “Paris of America” became a time capsule.
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