My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

Sunrise 103: Sawyer Point & Downtown Cincinnati (Sunrise Skyline, Riverboats, Kayaks)

As the atmosphere takes on a distinct shade of yellow, I arrive at the eastern edge of Sawyer Point coming into downtown Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Skyline at Sunrise

Rowers heading up the Licking River and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in the distance

A sailboat and the Reds Stadium. Featuring Carew Tower and the Great American building.

This morning’s update is a doozie! This is actually yesterday’s sunrise but I got carried away on such a pretty day and took way too many pictures. I didn’t have time to finish the processing yesterday, so it’s coming at you a day later. I retraced much of the route I took during Sunrise 9 in April. Has it really been 6 months?

I woke up Sunday morning with only 5 hours of sleep under my belt. We were out late for a friend’s birthday party the night before but I had already made up my mind that I was going to take advantage of this amazing October weather. I originally set my alarm for 6am, which was way too early considering sunrise was 7:41am, and accidentally slept for another hour. It worked out perfectly and I was thankful for the late sunrise time. I was out the door with my bike and coffee by 7:00am, armed with the goal of seeing the sunrise over the Ohio River in Downtown Cincinnati. I ended up being swept up in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer run/walk where over 12,000 people came out in the 15th annual event. The walk provided a rich texture to the acoustic backdrop to my four hour morning exploration of Sawyer Point and Newport, Kentucky because the speaker system could be heard anywhere along the banks of the Ohio River. I ended up hanging out in General James Taylor park in Newport, Kentucky, a park that until now I had no idea existed. With nothing but water and open air between myself and the headquarters of the walk about half a mile away or more, I listened as the walker told their survival stories, did the electric slide, and got themselves pumped up. The timing of my morning ride couldn’t have been more ideal because by the time I got to Sawyer Point, the first of the crowd was already starting to show up. I ended up getting stranded in Kentucky for about an hour as I waded, slowly and patiently, back to Ohio on the Purple People Eater Bridge through the torrent of thousands of pink-clad people. I actually found it kind of hilarious because I never considered how dependent I was on the only pedestrian bridge that links Newport and Sawyer Point!

While hanging out at General James Taylor Park in Newport, Kentucky on the banks of the Ohio River, I was greeted with the breathtaking view of the Cincinnati Skyline at sunrise. And a beautiful sunrise it was. I had known that I wouldn’t have an excellent view of the eastern sky so I had planned to wander around looking for a strategic spot to drink my coffee and enjoy the crisp and clear autumn sunrise. While chillin’ at the park, I saw a team of rowers practicing on the river, observed the local fishermen and watched a barge barrel down the river and do some impressive maneuvers as it banked into the Ohio River. The BB Riverboat also made an appearance and there was even a small sailboat that moved gracefully throughout my panoramic view of the skyline.

I’ve always loved the Cincinnati Skyline but Sunrise 103 really helped to solidify that feeling for me. I’ll go on record as saying that of the cities I’ve visited in my relatively inexperienced travel ventures, Cincinnati’s Downtown Skyline has to be one of the most beautiful skylines in the country, if not the world. Every city’s skyline is unique and beautiful in it’s own right, of course, but I feel like Cincinnati’s has the perfect combination of several properties.

For one, it’s relatively small. You can “see” the entire skyline without having to pan around. I can take it all in with a single view.

Second, What’s a skyline without a proper view? The view from the Kentucky side banks of the Ohio River is seriously amazing. The river and air is open and the banks in Kentucky are not overdeveloped by any stretch, providing easy access for anyone wanting to take it in.

Third, the architecture really tells a story, although I imagine this is common with many cities. You’ve got several remnants from “Old Cincinnati”, the late 1800s boomtown that was rivaling Manhatten with it’s urban density. The PNC building and Carew Tower (which was used as a model for the Empire State Building) rise to the western edge of the skyline. As I gaze at the buildings, I can imagine what a magnificent sight this must have been in the early 1900s. It isn’t too hard to ignore the Great American Insurance building (for now). The ending animation (35seconds forward) of the evolution of the New York Skyline in the movie Gangs of New York really made me aware of how the skyline of a city can tell historic story. I also like that we can see both the Bengal’s and Red’s stadiums as well as the US Bank Arena. There is the new Great American Insurance building, a shining example of modern architecture. A quick side note on the GAI building though. I like to think of the GAI as a young punk business executive. On one hand, it stole the “tallest building” title from Carew Tower, which held it for over 70 years. That’s OK though, progress marches on. It’s a beautiful building! It just makes me a bit nostalgic because I have a special place in my heart for Carew Tower and it’s legacy. They did pay respect, however, in the form of keeping Carew Tower at a higher elevation as to not upset the balance of the skyline. Yesterday morning, however, I realized something else! Something that I probably wouldn’t have thought about except through the contextual lens of this project. The Great American Insurance Building is aligned perfectly in such a way as to entirely block out Carew Tower from getting a view of the sunrise! I watched in a partial trance as the shadow of the GAI’s tiara moved from the top of Carew Tower down to the bottom. I’m being a bit dramatic, of course, but that doesn’t stop me from envisioning a quirky anthromorpized prime time sitcom featuring all of the buildings in Cincinnati’s Skyline living together in a small London flat and the tension between Carew and Great American being thick enough to cut with a knife. Now that I think about it, maybe I spent a bit too much time staring at the skyline… 🙂

As it turns out, the James Taylor park in Newport Kentucky is a memorial to a defensive battery that protected Cincinnati from the “Indian Wars” in the early 1800s, and later provided the final defense against an approaching Confederate Army during the Civil War. Whenever I find out about pieces of trivia such a this, I always think about the classic well-deserved nickname for Cincinnati: “The Gateway to the South”.

Some of these pictures are a bit redundant. The lighting was so accommodating and there was a lot going on. I am just throwing them all up on here, as usual, and letting the reader figure out which pictures they like the most (if any!).

When I left, the sky was dark but showing a hint of light. Looking East down Columbia Parkway in East End.

A blurry view down the Ohio River of the Cincinnati Skyline. I’m always so impressed with how much distance I can cover so easily on my bike.

The unfolding of a sunrise in a clear sunrise takes about 40 minutes. This morning was no different! The 25 minute ride to downtown was far from dull! I felt like I was racing the sun to Sawyer Point.

Another blurry view across the bend in the river.

I always get a full look at this building. Cincinnati Water Works, constructed in 1907. I finally ran into someone whose father works for the city. It turns out that the building is very much used today, but the stone wall that runs around the perimeter was built for “homeland security reasons”. Damn it. It’s so ugly.

Behind me, the atmosphere has started to show some signs of red. Better hurry along now!

St. Rose Church on Eastern Ave. If that clock is right, I’ve got 15 minutes to spare.

If you’re on the front page, click to see the rest of this post. About 73 pictures total!

Softball fields. If we had binoculars, we’d be able to see Alms Park’s overlook at the tip of that ridge line in the distance.

About 10 minutes before sunrise across the Ohio River

Arriving in downtown Cincinnati just before day break

What is this!? So far every time I’ve ridden to downtown for sunrise on a Sunday I’ve been greeted by people setting up for an event of some kind. It’s a funny contrast because on my ride in, I’m surrounded by darkness and the quiet sounds of the ride. I’m always shocked at my own reaction… “holy crap! There are other people out here!”

Roughly 5 minutes before the sun crests over the ridge line.  This is the Purple People Eater Bridge that provides a pedestrian connection between Sawyer Point and Newport, KY.

Cincinnati Skyline from the pedestrian bridge.

I was really surprised to find that the river was full of rowers. In this picture we see a rower and his coach with a megaphone giving critiques. In the distance we see I-471.

Sunrise 103 on the Purple People Eater bridge

This was the first rail bridge in Cincinnati. Now-a-days it’s a pedestrian connector.

It must have been a low humidity day because the colors of this sunrise were not as saturated as I would have expeccted. Quite the opposite.

Cincinnati is to our right. The Cincinnati Reds’ Stadium is in the distance.

The skyline from Newport on the Levee. The best view, however, is further down the levee. The skyline gives off the orange glow from the early sun light.

I forgot about the USS Nightmare. It’s gearing up for scare season! It’s like a haunted house, except it’s a boat.

It’s starting to get good.

As I continue on, I find a secluded “beach”. This spot provides local fisherman with easy access to the river. I hung out here for the bulk of the morning.

These geese were givin’ me the stink eye. The mouth of the licking river is in the background.

I hear a barge blast it’s fog horn from down the Licking River. Man, I love barges. This guy was just BARRELING down the river. I swear, he came within 10 yards of the bank on the other side of the river. He has obviously done this before.

We can see some beautiful old Kentucky homes on the other side of the Licking River. That’s probably considered to be Convington, Kentucky.

As the barge broke out onto the Ohio River, he had to do some impressive banking maneuvers to straighten out. The kayaks and sail boats paid him no attention.

He was on his way in just a few minutes. I tried to cram as much Cincinnati as I could into this picture.

Off he goes down to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond?

We’re still in shadows but the sun is making it’s way up into the sky.

Cincinnati Skyline from General James Taylor Memorial Park in Newport, Kentucky

I love this sailboat. He was having a blast out there.

A rower glides by. John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge is in the distance. See a resemblance to the Brooklyn Bridge? It was built by the same architect (John A Roebling) 30 years later.

I receded a bit into the park and found a bench. I sat and poured myself some coffee. At this point, somewhere in the distance, the breast cancer walk had broken out into the Electric Slide.

Lots of boat action.

At this point I’m just so happy that it’s such a pretty day. The skyline looks awesome and the caffeine is kicking in.

I like this picture. A lot.

Here comes the BB Riverboat!

She never came back… I’m imagining she’s setting off for an all-day Sunday tour. Perhaps to Indiana and back?

Cincinnati from Kentucky.

Just when you thought this couldn’t get any more Cincinnati.

BB Riverboat, Kayaks, Sailboat, Carew Tower, PNC Building,

Off she goes.

That sailboat. It’s everywhere.

At this point my camera lens jammed and I got a “hardware error” on the LCD screen. It just couldn’t handle it!

Having pushed the lens back into the housing and rebooted the phone, it came back just fine. It’s been a great companion for this project, I’d hate for it to die now!

The sailboat draws my attention. This one features Great American.

Sailboat and Reds stadium. This one includes Carew Tower.

And now we bring them both in together.

Bringing my focus back into control, I return to my bench on the Licking River.

Another shot of the Roebling Suspension Bridge. This is basically the view from the bench.

The following plaques explain the importance of this park and it’s role in American History.

Old Newport Barracks & General James Taylor

“The Civil War in Kentucky”

“Defending the Valley”

A vertical view across the mouth of the Licking River with reflections on the water.

(widescreen version)

(full screen version)

This is actually a bit further up the river. It’s quiet and there’s a playground.

I’ll admit it, I was afraid my bike was going to roll into the river.

On the way back around, I swung through Newport, KY. This is an old church that I always find so pretty. I don’t know the name or history. But I’m sure there’s lots of it.

There’s this giant Bell in Newport. I stopped by to finally see what it’s all about. It’s a Peace Bell and it will ring when the world is at peace. At least I think that’s what they mean.

Sure enough, the hardware is all there. I don’t know if it actually rings on a regular basis or not.

There’s also a 9/11 memorial on the grounds.

Here we can see the ancient support structure for the Purple People Eater Bridge. Now-a-days it serves as an entrance to the underground parking garage.

Do Not Enter.

I know I haven’t mentioned much about it, but by this time the Making Strides for Cancer was in full swing. I have become stranded in Kentucky! I felt like a salmon that had to make it back to the top of a waterfall so I could return to the place of my birth.

A view of Mt. Adams.

I ended up walking my bike through the torrent of people. You don’t realize just how long it takes to cross a river until you’re moving one step at a time. I can’t imagine trying to swim across.

Thanks for reading along!

5 responses

  1. Great set as always!

    FYI…the “church” you mention is actually the Campbell County Courthouse, on York Street.

    October 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    • Thanks Kevin! Interesting, I’ll look into that. I did see lots of people dressed up and heading into church on my way back, but perhaps I had the wrong building. Thanks for the clarification!

      October 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    • Doh! I just realized you were talking about the church on Newport, not the church on Eastern Ave. That makes much more sense.

      November 17, 2011 at 11:27 am

  2. Pingback: Sunrise 154: Clifton, Mt. Adams & Newport KY (Downtown/OTR Fog Bank, St. Patrick’s Day Bagpipes) « Ault Park Sunrise

  3. These are great shots. Our skyline looks so different now compared to 20 years ago! But you’re absolutely right, it tells a story. Cincinnati is a great city for architecture buffs.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm

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