Those of you who have been following my 50 state countdown probably noticed there was a bit of a gap since the last one. The reason for that is this one is BIG. There’s so much history, sights, and activity in the Buckeye State I knew I would have to devote some serious time to do it justice. The state is the birthplace of 5 Presidents and one King. The state can make a valid claim as the birthplace of Aviation and Rock and Roll. It has six major American cities and is also one of the nation’s top agricultural states. It has a lot going for it so it’s going to take a big post to cover it all. So sit, down, grab a plate of world-famous Chili-Spaghetti and stick around as we go to the state that is Hi in the middle and round on the edges: O-HI-O
One of the most unusually named of the major American cities, Cincinnati takes its name from Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus who was a 5th-century Roman war hero. The story goes that Cincinnatus won a great victory for Rome. Instead of taking the laurel and all the rewards that went with it, he chose to retire to his farm and live a quiet life. The governor of the Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair thought the story of Cincinnatus represented a tale of courage and self-sacrifice and changed the name of the burgeoning city on the Ohio River from Losantiville to Cincinnati.
There was a time when Cincinnati represented the “Wild West” as it was the furthest reaches of the newly formed United States. The town wanted to project an air of sophistication as opposed to a frontier backwater. So the City Fathers gave the town the moniker of “The Queen City” a nickname that exists to this day.
While most people know Dayton as the home of the Wright Brothers, the city, is also home to a slew of other inventions. The cash register, the hydraulic pump, code-breaking machines, and even the soda pop top all had their birth here. The city is also home to the Dayton Peace Accords which ended the war in Bosnia also took place at the nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
While many states feature at least major American cities and a few have two, Ohio is in a rare crowd of states to have three or more. But Columbus, the state capital is the largest of them all. The city is the heart of Ohio geographically and is home to just under a million people. The city feature’s one of the nation’s most famous zoos, the Scioto Mile which is a series of green parks and river walks, one of the nation’s best bookstores, and an authentically restored German village. Oh, and let’s not forget Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The city used to be the butt of some of the cruelest civic shaming in America. Many a leisure suit-wearing nightclub hack would bash the city mercilessly. “The mistake on the Lake” they would call it. And in all fairness back in the 1970s, the city was the posterchild of ‘The rust belt’. Blight, Urban decay and the white flight to the suburbs (and more importantly the money they took with them) left Cleveland ragged. But those days are in the past. I have been to Cleveland a few times and had a great time each visit. Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one of the nation’s best Art Museums, and is even has the house from the holiday favorite “A Christmas Story” among many other surprises. The city’s Renaissance is real and I concur with Clevelander Drew Carey that Yes, Cleveland does indeed rock.
People often call Ohio a Mid-western State. As someone who was born in Kansas and spent most of his adult years in Missouri, I might dissent that claim. Ohio is more of a hybrid. Part eastern and part Midwest. It has the sensibilities of both. Cosmopolitan and rustic, full of urban centers surrounded by bucolic pastureland and farms Ohio is about American as America gets.