Each week, Yahoo Travel pits rival cities against each other to determine once and for all which destination is the best. This week, it’s a Greater Cincinnati battle: Northern Kentucky against the city of Cincinnati.
The Case for Cincinnati
Cincinnati is the best. Period. On the right side of the Mason Dixon, where the accents don’t twang, Cincinnati is home to sports teams you’ve actually heard of like the Reds, the Bengals, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats and the Xavier University Musketeers. Yes, we may be obsessed with pigs and used to be known as “Porkopolis,” but who doesn’t love bacon? Once known as the “Paris of America“ because of its architecture, Cincinnati is a major arts leader in the country, sporting a Zaha Hadid-designed art museum and the Playhouse in the Park. it also is one the most well-read cities in the United States and home of Walnut Hills High School—a nationally ranked public school. Sadly, our neighbors to the south can’t say the same thing.
The legendary Mr. Red. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Mascots: The Big Red Machine has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to mascots. Once represented solely by Mr. Red—the old dude with the ginormous baseball for a head who worked so hard that when he retired in 2008, the team had to replace him with three characters to do his job. The Reds are now pimped out with Rosie Red, Mr. Redlegs and a fluffy, Muppet like character named Gapper.
(Courtesy: The Anchor)
Best Restaurant: Which one? In the past two months, Cincinnati’s restaurants have been written up in National Geographic and the Associated Press — both of which say “go for the food” and they don’t mean Skyline Chili. Our favorite new restaurant in the refurbished Over-the-Rhine area? The Anchor.
Hometown Heroes: How about a U.S. president? William Howard Taft, the 27th president, was born and raised in Cincinnati. His hilltop home is a National Historic Site. We also raised Sarah Jessica Parker, Ted Turner, Nick “father of George” Clooney, Theda Bara, Doris Day, Carmen Electra, Roy Rogers… and the list goes on
Cincinnati is also home to the world-famous Isley Brothers, who have too many hits to name. We also claim Bootsy Collins, who is the king of the funky bass.
Famous Faces: British rock star Peter Frampton, who has one of the best-selling live albums of all time, makes his primary home in Cincinnati.
Jerry Springer in Cincinnati in 1982. (Photo: AP)
Famous Mayor: Jerry Springer, who was kicked out of office after visiting a prostitute and paying her with a personal check. Klassy.
Beer: Vine Street has a gazillion microbreweries,so many that there’s even an annual Cincinnati Beer Run (walk), but we’ll always love a hometown can of Hudepohl Shoenling.
Most Notorious Criminals: Posteal Lasky, the “Cincinnnati Strangler,” and Charles Manson.
And PS: The Roebling Suspension Bridge, which was the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge is OURS. PERIOD.
The case for Northern Kentucky
They call it Greater Cincinnati because there’s Greater and then there’s Cincinnati. The “Greater” refers to Northern Kentucky. Things are just slower and easier over here in the Bluegrass. They are also better. Cross the beautiful Roebling Suspension Bridge (ours, by the way), the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge, and enter a world where people say hello to strangers, where the cost of living instantly drops, and where basketball brings great joy instead of decade after decade of depression.
Population: About 370,000.
Mascots: Have you seen Victor E. Viking? Northern Kentucky University rolled into NCAA Division I athletic competition with a mascot that eats Bearcats and Musketeers for breakfast. The Norse may be the newest program and at the lowest end of the highest level of college sports (for now), but come at him, bro. Seriously. Come at him.
Best Dish/Restaurant: While Cincinnatians have fought for decades over whether Gold Star or Skyline serves the best version of the city’s namesake chili, Northern Kentucky, settled that debate years ago: Dixie Chili. Cincinnati may have invented the dish, but Kentucky perfected it.
Famous Faces: Hello, George Clooney, anyone? Also, we have the Simpsons, as noted in the 2000 episode “Behind the Laughter” (look it up and envy us, now).
(Photo: Tabitha Kaylee Hawk/Flickr)
Best Bar: Bobby Mackey’s is such an amazing bar that people still drink there long after they died. The country-themed honky tonk in Wilder is full of ghosts and some believe is home to the one and only Gateway to Hell. Look for it in the basement.
Classic Cocktail: With the Kentucky Derby, the thought of a mint julep is appealing. But for those who stay in Covington during the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports, stop by Wiseguys Lounge, where Bill will put on a show and deliver the best Manhattan you’ve ever tasted. The folks at Woodford Reserve said he made the best one in the entire Cincinnati area.
Mainstrasse Village. (Photo: J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)
Beer: Maifest and Oktoberfest in Covington’s Mainstrasse Village are the best beer-drinking experiences in the region. Though Cincinnati has its own Oktoberfest, we celebrate our heritage year-round in this authentic German neighborhood, where there are two dozen spots across six blocks for the purposes of throwing back your favorite brew. Best enjoyed in lederhosen.
Catch Phrase: "Put Your Shirt On, Covington!” Shirtless season in Covington typically runs from early March through Thanksgiving weekend, but during particularly good years, we can stretch it all the way to Christmas.
Hometown Heroes: The last time a governor was elected from Covington, they shot him. William Goebel, the only governor in American history to die from an assassin’s bullet, was gritty Covington-to-the-core. Before being (dubiously) elected in 1899, he printed a newspaper article accusing a political rival of having ghonorrhea. When the rival confronted him, Goebel shot him in the face. In. The. Face. We named a park for Goebel.
Newport, Ky. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Most Notorious Criminals: Before there was Las Vegas, Newport was the original Sin City, filled with gangsters, gambling, and illegal booze. George Remus was known as King of the Bootleggers and did much of his handiwork on this side of the river. Come to Newport and take the Mafia Tour, and notice all the Italian names that still dominate the city.
Famous Politicians: How many Congressmen from Cincinnati pitched a no-hitter in Major League Baseball? I’ll wait. Jim Bunning represented Northern Kentucky in D.C. from 1987 to 1999 before representing the whole Commonwealth as a Senator for twelve years after that.He pitched two no-hitters, including one perfect game, and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Biggest Scandals: In 1913, an “outlaw” baseball league formed and put a team in Covington, a stone’s throw from the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds weren’t keen on having competition, but sneaky Covington joined the Federal League, where the Reds had no jurisdiction, and the Blue Sox took the field at new Federal Park in 1913. Just weeks into the season, the team failed, bolted for Kansas City, and finished the season as the “Packers.”