Who Knew? Steep climbs & sloping streets aside, Cincinnati is not really 'The City of Seven Hills'

CINCINNATI - The Tri-State is home to many fascinating facts, offbeat oddities, and "I did not know that," moments. With that in mind, WCPO asks "Who Knew?"

Say what? Cincinnati: Not actually a "City of Seven Hills"
Where can I see it? Cincinnati Observatory
Who knew? John Ventre and Richard Davis

In spite of the phrase “Seven Hills of Cincinnati,” we are actually not a city of hills at all. This historic and geographic misconception has titled everything including schools, neighborhoods, small businesses, and street signs. John Ventre and Richard Davis from the Cincinnati Observatory helped debunk the myth of Seven Hills and hope to set the record straight.

1. How did Cincinnati get the nickname City of Seven Hills?

The majority of the founders of the city were from the east coast. When they attempted to persuade their friends to relocate to the new city, Losantiville/Cincinnati, they alluded to the beauty of the land by referring to the beauty of Rome and its seven hills.

2. What is the actual type of topography of Cincinnati?

Cincinnati is a city of valleys, cut into a rolling topographic surface called the Lexington Peneplain that was formed during the time before the glaciers of the Ice Age scraped their way into the region. The so-called hills are just remnants of the Lexington Peneplain—left after subsequent erosion of the valleys.

3. What are the usual “hills” referenced when people try to name the Seven Hills of Cincinnati?

There are 29 hills that are referenced, plus a couple of modern man-made hills such as Mount Rumpke. Some of the best known include: Bellevue Hill, Brighton Hill (Fairview Hill), Fairmount, Jackson Hill (Mt. Auburn), Mt. Echo, Mt. Ida (Mt. Adams), Mt. Harrison, Mt. Hope, Mt. Storm (Clifton), Price Hill, Vine Street Hill and Walnut Hills.

4. How many of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods are named after some type of elevation?

Bond Hill, Clifton Heights, College Hill, East Price Hill, East Walnut Hills, Kennedy Heights, Lower Price Hill, Mount Adams, Mount Airy, Mount Auburn, Mount Lookout, Mount Washington, North Fairmount, Paddock Hills, Pleasant Ridge, South Fairmount, Prospect Hill, Walnut Hills, West Price Hill, Winton Hills and University Heights. And then there are some neighborhoods that are hills without the word Hill or Mount in their names, such as Fairview.

5. How many other US cities are referenced as a Seven Hill city?

Surprisingly there are many US cities that claim they are built on seven hills. There are at least 19 cities, including Seven Hills, Ohio (south of Cleveland), Albany, New York; Richmond, Virginia; San Francisco, California; and Yonkers, New York. Then there is Rome, Georgia—reflecting back to the city of the original seven hills. 

Connect with WCPO Contributor Paige E. Malott on Twitter: @Paigetastic01 , and check out her blog CincyWhimsy.com

Check back next Tuesday for another edition of "Who Knew?" If you have an tip, idea or question email: holly.edgell@wcpo.com.

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