Monday, May 07, 2001

Ask A Stupid Question

City once reigned as a true 'Queen'

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Question: I'm new to the area — three years — and looking for an answer. Why is Cincinnati called the Queen City? I've asked several natives and even they don't know the answer. Help!

        Answer: Wellsir, says Dan Hurley, professional historian and owner of Applied History Associates, it's all about boosterism.

        “Back in the 1820s, Cincinnati had delusions of grandeur. There wasn't a chamber of commerce back then to develop a marketing campaign, but there were civic boosters. They started informally referring to Cincinnati as the queen city — small q and c. It started showing up in newspapers in 1828, so you know it was already on the streets.

        “In the 1850s, when the poet Longfellow used it in a poem ("Catawba Wine'), the name got its official blessing. It became Queen City of the West, all caps.

        “You have to understand, that between 1835 and the 1850s, Cincinnati was the fastest growing city in the U.S. It was the first boom town in the west — because there were so many jobs here — and really was a queen city. Since the 1850s, it has been a commonly accepted nickname.”

        Oh, and something you didn't ask but which Mr. Hurley volunteers anyway: “You know there's also a Queen City of the East. Lowell, Mass.”

        If you have a stupid question, send it to Ask a Stupid Question, Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax: (513) 768-8330.


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