I’m a born-and-raised Cincinnati local with a list of Cincinnati facts that may surprise you!
Many people think of Cincinnati as a quiet city in the Midwest, famed for its chili and comeback football team.
But did you know that your favorite tailgating game came from Cincinnati? Or how historically rich the city is, from science and politics to all forms of culture?
Prepare to have your mind blown and learn what makes Cincinnati so unique!
Table of Contents
- 25 Interesting Facts About Cincinnati
- 1. Cincinnati isn’t the City’s Original Name
- 2. Cincinnati Has Many Nicknames
- 3. Cincinnati Has Its Own Chili
- 4. Cincinnati is “The Capital of Cornhole”
- 5. Cincinnati is the First City to Establish a Municipal Fire Department
- 6. Cincinnati is the Birthplace of Neil Armstrong
- 7. The Cincinnati Observatory is the Oldest Professional Observatory in the Country
- 8. Four US Presidents are from Cincinnati
- 9. Steven Spielberg was Born in Cincinnati
- 10. Cincinnati is the Birthplace of Play-Doh
- 11. The Heart-Lung Machine was Invented in Cincinnati
- 12. The Magic 8-Ball also Came from Cincinnati
- 13. Cincinnati is Home to the Country’s First Jewish Hospital
- 14. Cincinnati is the Only City that Built and Owned a Railway
- 15. Cincinnati was a Key Stop on the Underground Railroad
- 16. The Roebling Suspension Bridge was a Record-Breaker
- 17. Cincinnati is Home to the Biggest Oktoberfest in the Country
- 18. The Inventor of the Pringles Can is Buried Here — in a Pringles Can!
- 19. Jerry Springer was the Mayor of Cincinnati
- 20. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is One of the Oldest in the Country
- 21. Cincinnati Music Hall May be Haunted!
- 22. It’s Home to the World’s Only Ventriloquist Museum
- 23. The First Airmail Came from Cincinnati
- 24. The Passenger Pigeon Went Extinct in Cincinnati
- 25. The Cincinnati Reds are the Country’s Oldest Professional Baseball Team.
- FAQs About Cincinnati
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25 Interesting Facts About Cincinnati
1. Cincinnati isn’t the City’s Original Name
Originally, the city was named Losantville. The name of the city was changed in 1790 in honor of Lucius Cincinnatus. He was a military leader and statesman in Rome who lived from 519 to 430 B.C. [Source]
2. Cincinnati Has Many Nicknames
Cincinnati’s most well-known nickname is The Queen City. However, the city is also known as The City of Seven Hills, The Queen of the West, and The Blue Chip City. Perhaps its most interesting nickname is Porkopolis, a word for flying pig. This seemingly strange name comes to us because Cincinnati used to have more than 48 pork packing facilities. [Source]
✈️ Traveling to The Queen City? Bookmark my guide on where to stay in Cincinnati!
3. Cincinnati Has Its Own Chili
If you know anything about Cincinnati, you know about Skyline Chili. The chili itself has only meat, seasoning (including cinnamon and chocolate!), and water. You can enjoy it over spaghetti or on top of a hot dog with beans and/or onions at any local Skyline Chili location.
Residents and tourists in Cincinnati alone consume more than 2 million pounds of this chili every year!
👉 Read Next: Best Things to Do and See in Cincinnati
4. Cincinnati is “The Capital of Cornhole”
This city is famed for the popular backyard game of cornhole, which is played both professionally and recreationally all over the world. Locals in the area gave rise to the American Cornhole Organization in 2005. [Source]
5. Cincinnati is the First City to Establish a Municipal Fire Department
In 1853, the Cincinnati Fire Department became the first fully paid fire department in the United States. Believe it or not, despite the danger inherent to the job, US firefighters weren’t paid until this time. [Source]
6. Cincinnati is the Birthplace of Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong, widely known as the first man to set foot on the moon, was born in Cincinnati in August 1930. After his victorious career with NASA, he went on to teach aeronautical engineering at the University of Cincinnati from 1971 to 1979. [Source]
7. The Cincinnati Observatory is the Oldest Professional Observatory in the Country
Established in 1842, the Cincinnati Observatory is the oldest of its kind in the United States and the entire western hemisphere. It is part of the University of Cincinnati and crucial to the astronomy program at this institution. [Source]
📚 Related Reading: 23 Best Places to Visit in Ohio
8. Four US Presidents are from Cincinnati
Four presidents are connected to Cincinnati. Ulysses S. Grant was born in Point Pleasant (on the Ohio River, southeast of Cincinnati) in 1822. Benjamin Harrison was born in North Bend (in Greater Cincinnati) in 1833. William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati in 1857.
Additionally, William Henry Harrison lived in the Cincinnati area after his presidency. He represented Ohio in the US Congress for two terms.
9. Steven Spielberg was Born in Cincinnati
Although he moved to Phoenix later in his childhood, Steven Spielberg was born in this city in 1946. You likely know that he is responsible for the creation of Jaws, Schindler’s List, E.T., and Indiana Jones. He also wrote several other innovative and memorable films. [Source]
10. Cincinnati is the Birthplace of Play-Doh
Kutol was a Cincinnati-based company that created Play-Doh in the 1930s — and get this: it was originally a wallpaper cleaner! They remarketed it to schools as Play-Doh when they started struggling financially. This smart decision restored financial security for the company. [Source]
11. The Heart-Lung Machine was Invented in Cincinnati
In 1951, the first heart-lung machine was created at the University of Cincinnati by cardiologist Samuel Kaplan, chemist Leland Clark, and surgery professor James Helmsworth. This machine made safe open-heart surgery possible. [Source]
12. The Magic 8-Ball also Came from Cincinnati
Laura C. Cooper Pruden was a medium who lived in this city. Her son, Albert Carter, became interested in mysticism under his mother’s influence. He created the original prototype for the Magic 8-Ball, which he called the “Syco-Seer.”
Carter applied for a patent in 1944 for the liquid-filled tube with windows on each end. This item evolved and eventually became the Magic 8-Ball we all know today. [Source]
13. Cincinnati is Home to the Country’s First Jewish Hospital
In 1850, The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health was the first of its kind established in the United States. The initial purpose of the hospital was to treat Jewish patients with cholera. [Source]
👉 Read Next: Facts About Columbus, Ohio
14. Cincinnati is the Only City that Built and Owned a Railway
The Cincinnati Southern Railway was an important part of the American Railway system. Construction was finished in 1879. The railway went from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ultimately, it connected the western and southern United States. [Source]
15. Cincinnati was a Key Stop on the Underground Railroad
Kentucky, located just south of Cincinnati, was a slave state in the 19th century. Cincinnati abolitionists made this city an important stop on the Underground Railroad, with many stations throughout. Slaves attempting to escape from further south could stop here on their way to Canada, where they would be free. [Source]
16. The Roebling Suspension Bridge was a Record-Breaker
The Roebling Suspension Bridge was the longest such bridge in the world (at 1,057 feet) when it was constructed in 1867. It was the inspiration for the famous Brooklyn Bridge, which incidentally stole the title of the longest bridge. [Source]
17. Cincinnati is Home to the Biggest Oktoberfest in the Country
Known as Zinzinnati, Oktoberfest here is the largest in the US. It’s held annually in the downtown area and features German food vendors, live music, a dachshund race (“Running of the Wieners”), and tons of beer. About 500,000 people are in attendance every year! [Source]
🍺 Love Beer? Check out this top-rated Hidden Brewery Caverns Tour, which includes a beer tasting!
18. The Inventor of the Pringles Can is Buried Here — in a Pringles Can!
Fredric Baur was a Cincinnati chemist who invented the Pringles can. Upon his death in 2008, he was cremated, and the ashes were placed in an empty can of Original Pringles. The can is buried at Arlington Memorial Gardens in Mount Healthy. [Source]
🌳 Read Next: 10 Best Parks in Cincinnati
19. Jerry Springer was the Mayor of Cincinnati
Once upon a time, the notorious Jerry Springer was involved in Cincinnati politics. Elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971, he resigned three years later after a bad check he had written to a prostitute had been exposed.
However, he won back his seat in 1975 and became mayor in 1977. He went on to become a political commentator and the host of his current popular (albeit controversial) talk show. [Source]
20. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is One of the Oldest in the Country
Founded in 1895, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is the sixth-oldest orchestra in the United States. It performs frequently at Cincinnati Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark and one of the most famous landmarks in Cincinnati. The same members of this orchestra form the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, using their instruments to play pop music at Music Hall.
The Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, and May Festival Chorus also perform at Music Hall.
🧳 Visiting the Cincinnati Music Hall? See my Cincinnati packing list guide, which covers everything you need for a night at the opera to daytime outdoor activities.
21. Cincinnati Music Hall May be Haunted!
Cincinnati Music Hall is not only a premier cultural venue — it is also the location of multiple ghost sightings and suspected hauntings. In fact, Music Hall was featured on a special Halloween episode of Ghost Hunters in 2014.
If you’re interested in the paranormal, you should visit the haunted Music Hall. You can go on a haunted tour sponsored by Music Hall itself, or explore the haunted halls on your own!
👻 Love the Paranormal? Take this Cincinnati Ghosts Tour to visit several other haunted sites!
22. It’s Home to the World’s Only Ventriloquist Museum
Just five miles south of this city is Vent Haven Museum. This is the only museum in the world that is dedicated to ventriloquy figures, memorabilia, and photographs. It is home to over a thousand ventriloquist figures from 20 different countries.
The museum is open by appointment only from May to September. [Source]
23. The First Airmail Came from Cincinnati
We know that a lot of mail travels through the air nowadays. But what you may not know is that the very first instance of this happening was a bag of airmail being delivered from Cincinnati to Toledo. To make it even more interesting, it didn’t travel by plane, but by hot air balloon.
🚗 Read Next: Best Day Trips from Cincinnati
24. The Passenger Pigeon Went Extinct in Cincinnati
Once the most common bird in North America, the passenger pigeon became an endangered species in the early 1900s due to human activity. The last of these birds on the planet, named Martha, lived in the Cincinnati Zoo and died in 1914. [Source]
👉 Read Next: Interesting Facts About Cleveland
25. The Cincinnati Reds are the Country’s Oldest Professional Baseball Team.
The Cincinnati Reds (initially the Cincinnati Red Stockings) was the first Major League Baseball team in the country. The team was founded in 1890. In addition, they were the first professional baseball team to get on an airplane for a game. This happened in June 1934. [Source]
👉 Read Next: Where to Stay in Cincinnati
FAQs About Cincinnati
What is an interesting fact about Cincinnati, Ohio?
An interesting fact about Cincinnati, Ohio is that Goetta is a common breakfast tradition here. This is a dish that came to the city with German settlers and became a city specialty. It is made of meat, oats, and spices.
Why is Cincinnati called The Queen City?
Cincinnati is called The Queen City because it bolstered the city’s reputation when it was first incorporated. This was a city of culture and grandeur, home to many cultural centers, including museums, zoos, and concert halls (such as Music Hall).
And that concludes my list of Cincinnati facts! I hope you enjoyed reading about what makes my hometown a unique destination.
(Featured Image Credit: Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock)
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