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3 Local History Blogs That Let You Enjoy Cincinnati From Your Own Home

Image: Phil Armstrong
Image: Phil Armstrong
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If you've been following the news lately, you're acutely aware of what's happening with a particular viral epidemic. The Governor of Ohio is urging people to avoid gatherings to help slow its spread, even suggesting Cincinnati cancel this year's Opening Day festivities. As of this writing, it looks like there won't be a parade at the regularly scheduled date this year. We're not here to tell you what to do with your time, and we're certainly not here to scare you further, but if you feel more comfortable staying in, you can still enjoy Cincinnati from the comfort of your own home.

Local history is a big part of what we enjoy writing about and photographing on Cincinnati Refined. To get inspiration for those stories, we sometimes consult other local history blogs who've scoured books and newspaper clippings for interesting stories for their own sites. Unlike physical media, they're instantly accessible so long as there's an internet connection. And because they've been running for so long, there's a wealth of great content waiting to be read.

Below is a list of three local history blogs we thoroughly enjoy that you can access right now without needing to move from your chair.

1. Digging Cincinnati History

Ann Senefeld's Digging Cincinnati History blog is outstanding. With years of content waiting to be discovered (or rediscovered if you're already a fan), you'll easily spend hours poring over the work she's done.

True to her blog's name, she digs deep into the histories of local buildings—both those that still stand and those that have since been demolished—to tell the tales of who owned them, when they were built, how they were used, their importance, and how they came to remain (or disappear) in today's modern Cincinnati. Using a variety of resources such as Sanborn fire maps, Ann's able to uncover a wealth of knowledge to explore each place fully, regularly using old photos to illustrate her subjects.

She hasn't updated Digging Cincinnati History's blog since April of last year, but don't let that deter you from enjoying past posts. You can find her blog archive on the right-hand side of the website. It's best viewed on a screen that's larger than a phone.

What's more, she's also a historical consultant who's written a book! For a fee, Ann will use her expertise to research a building or home of your choice and provide a history report with her findings. If you have an old house and want to learn more about it, she's the perfect person to contact.

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2. Cincinnati Curiosities

Once the associate vice president of public relations for the University of Cincinnati, Greg Hand now chronicles Cincinnati's history by retelling human stories, weird (and humorous) criminal acts, and those moments from our city's past that went on to shape who we've become. His site is titled Cincinnati Curiosities.

On Cincinnati Curiosities, Greg tells full-fledged stories that are a joy to read through. From a local dog catcher's surprisingly violent occupational woes to Burnet Woods' grim history with suicide, Greg gets down and dirty with the oddest stories from Cincinnati's past with visual aids to help tell them. Greg's "On This Day In Cincinnati History" featurettes, which are but a few sentences in length, satisfy readers who want smaller, bite-sized stories in between his long-form posts.

Greg is, perhaps, the finest example of a local storyteller who can make a hundred-year-old story feel fresh.

Cincinnati Curiosities is keyword searchable, too, so if you have something specific in mind, spell it out in the search bar at the top. Otherwise, his entire catalog is divided out by year and month so you can easily reread past posts. And, if you want to know something specific, he's open for questions.


3. Queen City Discovery

Since 2007, author and photographer Ronny Salerno has been exploring Cincinnati and the surrounding region while publishing his finds on Queen City Discovery. His love of the abandoned and forgotten isn't merely another Instagram feed of photos without context; Ronny dives head-first into the history of the places and the people he photographs to retell their stories to his audience.

Shuttered amusement parks and suburban attractions are among his most popular series. He's explored and personally photographed the old LeSourdsville Lake/Americana Amusement Park, the abandoned Cincinnati Subway, told the tale of the Circle Line V "ghost ship," and has shared thousands of digital and 35mm photos of his travels around the city and state of Ohio (and beyond). One big reason we enjoy his site so thoroughly is because nearly all of the visuals are custom-made specifically for Queen City Discovery. That means the content you'll see on Ronny's website is almost entirely exclusive and won't be found anywhere else.

With 12 years of content to comb through, Ronny's archive of adventure is among the finest you'll experience. As long-time fans, we've also personally worked with him on this very site to tell unique stories such as Jungle Jim's monorail, the history of Chester Park, and one last look at Showboat Majestic before it left the Cincinnati waterfront.

Also, he wrote a great book years ago about faded ads around the region.

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4. Additional Reads!

"Wait, I thought you said three blogs! What's this fourth option??"

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We've covered quite a few stories over the years that deal with local history that you may also find interesting. Below is a list of extra topics for your reading pleasure.

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