Welcome! This is a walking tour of public art in Downtown Cincinnati centered around presidential history, with stops at restaurants, shops, and interesting spots along the way. It could take a couple of hours, depending on your speed and how long you spend at each place. Have fun!
Long before Ohio became the swingiest swing state of the past few elections, it earned the nickname “Mother of Presidents.” More presidents – eight to be exact – have come from Ohio than from any other state.
For the trivia-minded, they are William Henry Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding. You can relive a little bit of local presidential history with a stroll through downtown.
Begin with lunch at the Café at the Taft Museum, 316 Pike St. The Taft was the home of Charles Phelps Taft, whose brother, William Howard, accepted the Republican nomination for president on the front porch of his home. Enjoy lunch in the café, where you will find historic photos of the family. Plus you can venture upstairs to the galleries to see a portrait of the president.
After lunch, walk through Lytle Park to see the statue of Abraham Lincoln, at Fourth Street next to the Taft Museum. This 11-foot statue by sculptor George Grey Barnard, is one of the few depictions of a beardless Lincoln. The park, nestled in the Lytle Park Historic District, includes a number of other statues and is home to beautiful seasonal floor beds.
Continue west along Fourth Street, then turn north on Main Street one block to the John Weld Peck Federal Building, at Main and Fifth Streets. Look up to find American Eagle (Victory Eagle) by Marshall M. Fredericks, a 21-foot tall aluminum statue symbolizing America’s strength.
Continue north on Main to Sixth Street, turn left and walk to The Cincinnatian Hotel, 601 Vine St. For more than 127 years, the hotel, once known as The Palace, has welcomed celebrated visitors to Cincinnati, including presidents – President Garfield had a special menu dedicated to him upon his death. Though you probably won’t be staying in the Presidential Suite, you can enjoy a drink and sample the small plates at The Cricket.
As the presidential tour continues, take Vine Street north to Garfield Place. At that corner you will find a statue of James A. Garfield, by Charles Henry Niehaus, in Piatt Park. Garfield, the second of four Presidents who were assassinated, had a presidency of only 200 days. Only William Henry Harrison, whose statue is at the other end of park, had a shorter presidency of just 31 days. The Harrison statue is the only equestrian monument in Cincinnati.
If all this presidential knowledge has you hungry for even more history, you can take in a performance at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., just a block away from the Harrison statue. This resident ensemble brings Shakespeare and the classics to life for audiences of all ages.
What better place to relax and discuss classical drama, Ohio history, and other philosophical topics than The President's Room, 700 Race St. This restaurant, which features modern American cuisine with German and Italian influences, is on the first floor of The Phoenix, a Cincinnati landmark by Samuel Hannaford, who also designed City Hall.