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Why is Cincinnati Known As the Queen City?

By Cathy Rogers
Updated May 23, 2024
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Cincinnati, Ohio, founded in 1788, was originally named Losantiville, or “town opposite the mouth of the Licking River.” A mere two years later, however, the Governor of the Northwest Territory, General Arthur St. Clair, renamed the city Cincinnati, in honor of an organization of Revolutionary War officers, the Society of Cincinnati.

Once the official name was settled, Cincinnati’s rapid growth in the early 1800s precipitated several nicknames; one of its most revered being the Queen City. As steamboats helped Cincinnati become the chief port on the Ohio River, the city shipped goods to both the Eastern U.S. and to foreign countries. The city, the fastest growing in the nation between 1835 and the 1850s, became the largest city in Ohio and the largest city in the Midwest prior to the Civil War.

Some sources report that it was the city’s proud citizens themselves who first proclaimed their magnificent home “The Queen City” or the “Queen of the West.” Long before marketing slogans and organized chambers of commerce, the residents themselves decided their grand and glorious city was regal. By 1826, co-authors Benjamin Drake and Edward Mansfield referred to city as the “Queen of the West” in their book, Cincinnati. Then in 1854, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned "Catawba Wine," which memorialized Cincinnati’s vineyards. In the last stanza of his poem, he refers to Cincinnati as the “Queen of the West.”

In the years following, the Queen City was given many other monikers. As Cincinnati became famous as a pork packing center in the mid 1800s, it was often called “Porkopolis.” It had surpassed both Dublin and Belfast as the world’s primary pork packing centers and was chief supplier of salt pork to the British Navy. During the same time period, residents still boasting their pride also referred to their Queen City as “the London of America.” When music, arts, a university and professional baseball entered the city’s complexion in the 1870s, the Queen City was also known as “the Paris of America.”

Many businesses and products adopted the Queen City moniker for their products and companies. Clubs, manufacturers, stores and medical groups still use Queen City in their names. Cincinnati is no longer the largest city in Ohio. Columbus, the capital, now holds that title. Now that Cincinnati celebrated its Bicentennial in 1988, newer nicknames include Cincinnati USA, which refers to the Greater Cincinnati region, encompassing a 15-county region that includes three states, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

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Discussion Comments
By anon991984 — On Aug 03, 2015

Bob Evenson, spokesman for the Church of Ouzo, discovered in 20 minutes what the rest of the world couldn't discover in 170 years, the origin of Cincinnati's Queen City name, as attested to by the Cincinnati Public Library.

By anon355678 — On Nov 18, 2013

I live in Virginia and realize most of our names were after kings and queens: Charlottesville, Jamestown, James City County, Williamsburg, etc, etc. For one set of people to lay claim on this title just means they have nothing else going for them. They need to go find an identity of their own.

By anon274898 — On Jun 14, 2012

Dear Charlotte: who cares? This article is about Cincinnati. Charlotte is a cool city, but one should be mindful of his audience and the article.

By anon262243 — On Apr 19, 2012

I understand that Cincinnati is set on seven hills; and so was/is Rome and New Rome (Constantinople). I always wondered if people gave Cincinnati its nickname (the Queen City) because of this. Constantinople was always known as the Queen of Cities.

By anon261633 — On Apr 16, 2012

Cincinnati is named after the Roman Consul/Dictator(14 day dictator) Cincinnatus, who served as dictator to defend Rome from an imposing invasion, then gave up his dictatorship after fourteen days to return to his farm.

By anon140228 — On Jan 06, 2011

Who cares? Cincinnati is an awesome, unique city. And I'm sure Charlotte is too.

By anon135326 — On Dec 18, 2010

Charlotte was founded 33 years before Cincinnati. Mecklenburg County, NC (which contains Charlotte) is named for the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in present day Germany, where Queen Charlotte's father was a duke. Charlotte is the largest and oldest city with the nickname "The Queen City."

By anon122415 — On Oct 28, 2010

but wasn't cincinnati established before charlotte?

By anon118265 — On Oct 13, 2010

Charlotte, NC is the real Queen City. After Queen Charlotte, I haven't heard of Queen Cincinnati.

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