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Why is Cincinnati Known As the Queen City?

Cincinnati is affectionately dubbed the Queen City as a nod to its 19th-century prosperity, when it blossomed into a bustling hub of culture and commerce, rivaling even the largest cities. This regal moniker reflects its historic grandeur and enduring charm. Curious about the royal roots of Cincinnati's nickname? Discover the full story behind this majestic title and its lasting legacy.
Cathy Rogers
Cathy Rogers

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.

Steamboats helped Cincinnati become the primary port on the Ohio River.
Steamboats helped Cincinnati become the primary port on the Ohio River.

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.”

Between 1835 and the 1850s, Cincinnati became the largest city in Ohio and the largest city in the Midwest prior to the Civil War.
Between 1835 and the 1850s, Cincinnati became the largest city in Ohio and the largest city in the Midwest prior to the Civil War.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Cincinnati referred to as the "Queen City"?

Cincinnati earned the nickname "Queen City" after a poetic reference made by journalist Ed B. Cooke in the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1819. He referred to the city as the "Queen of the West," in admiration of its rapid growth and burgeoning status at a time when it was one of the country's largest and most prosperous cities, especially considering its location on the Ohio River which was a major artery for trade and transportation.

What historical significance does the nickname "Queen City" hold for Cincinnati?

The nickname "Queen City" signifies Cincinnati's historical importance as a leading city of the Midwest during the 19th century. Its strategic location on the Ohio River facilitated commerce and communication, which were pivotal in the westward expansion of the United States. The moniker reflects the city's past prosperity and its role as a cultural and economic hub during that era.

Are there any events or festivals in Cincinnati that celebrate its "Queen City" heritage?

Yes, Cincinnati celebrates its heritage with various events and festivals throughout the year. One notable event is the Cincinnati Music Festival, which is one of the largest music festivals in the United States and pays homage to the city's rich musical legacy. Additionally, the annual Oktoberfest Zinzinnati celebrates the city's German heritage, reflecting the cultural diversity that contributed to its "Queen City" status.

How has the "Queen City" nickname influenced Cincinnati's identity and branding?

The "Queen City" nickname has become an integral part of Cincinnati's identity and branding. It is used to promote the city's historical significance and its ongoing cultural and economic development. The nickname is embraced by local businesses, sports teams, and organizations, and it serves as a reminder of the city's regal past while symbolizing its aspirations for continued growth and prosperity.

What are some landmarks or attractions in Cincinnati that reflect its "Queen City" nickname?

Cincinnati boasts several landmarks that reflect its "Queen City" nickname, such as the Carew Tower, which offers panoramic views of the cityscape, and the historic Music Hall, a testament to the city's cultural affluence. The Cincinnati Museum Center, housed in the Union Terminal, showcases the city's history and industry, while the Over-the-Rhine district displays the architectural beauty reminiscent of the city's prosperous past.

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Discussion Comments

anon991984

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.

anon355678

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.

anon274898

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.

anon262243

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.

anon261633

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.

anon140228

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

anon135326

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."

anon122415

but wasn't cincinnati established before charlotte?

anon118265

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

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    • Steamboats helped Cincinnati become the primary port on the Ohio River.
      By: Melastmohican
      Steamboats helped Cincinnati become the primary port on the Ohio River.
    • Between 1835 and the 1850s, Cincinnati became the largest city in Ohio and the largest city in the Midwest prior to the Civil War.
      By: Iryna Volina
      Between 1835 and the 1850s, Cincinnati became the largest city in Ohio and the largest city in the Midwest prior to the Civil War.