Then & Now: How a troubled Washington Park became the centerpiece of a city


CINCINNATI – This weekend, an estimated 38,000 people will make their way to Washington Park for LumenoCity – a three-day celebration of arts, culture and Cincinnati history.

But just a handful of years earlier, many wouldn’t have set foot in the historic park bounded by West 12th, Race and Elm streets in Over-the-Rhine.

“There were issues of behaviors in the park that weren’t so desirable,” said Steve Schuckman, superintendent of Planning and Design for the Cincinnati Park Board. “There were patrons of Music Hall who probably would not want to walk through the park just to get to and from Music Hall.”


In this interactive piece, we examine Washington Park before renovations began in 2011 and compare it to today.

HOW TO USE OUR TOOL: Click and hold the white circular “slider” tool at the center of each photograph. Then move the slider left and right to see “before” and “after.” (This feature may not be compatible with all versions of Internet Explorer, but works best with browsers like Firefox, Chrome or Safari.)


  Washington Park lot before and after 2011 renovation





A parking lot sat north of the park along 14th Street between 2007 and 2011. The plot was originally home to Washington Park Elementary School before it was demolished. In the 'Now' portion of this image, you can see how the space was renovated to support an estimated 11,000 people at the 2013 LumenoCity concert.


  The civic lawn expansion





Another shot of the civic lawn added to the park along 14th Street after the school's demolition. The above image compares this portion of the park during its construction in 2011 to today. The 49,000-square-foot lawn, the size of a football field, is a venue for outdoor performances, events and recreation. The lawn can comfortably hold more than 10,000 people for events and is surrounded by public benches in natural shade.


  Old Washington Park playground





In the mid-20th century, park additions included a swimming pool, a comfort station and the playground seen here. The swimming pool and this playground were removed during the 2011 renovation. A new comfort station and playground were then built in different locations in the park. Today's new playground is fenced in and covers 18,000 square feet. It features a boardwalk and stage, a sandbox, a canal boat in a water channel and climbing walls based on Cincinnati’s historic architecture.

WCPO Insiders can see SEVEN more interactive looks at Washington Park's past. Subscribers will also hear from a planner behind the scenes and learn how a troubled park became the centerpiece of a city.

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And for more 'Then & Now' interactives, check out our past coverage:
 Then & Now: The rise and fall of Newport's Sin City
 Then & Now: A trip back in time at Kings Island
 Then & Now: A look back at 'Rain Man' in Cincinnati

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