Cincy streets revert back to 1910s

Photo courtesy of Sydney Sanders | A number of streets in the Cincinnati area are being changed back to their original German names. The streets had their names changed because of anti-German hysteria during World War I. Some original names are being featured beneath the more commonly known names, as pictured above.

Over 100 years ago, the streets of Cincinnati were renamed because of the anti-German hysteria during World War I. However, last week, several city leaders, representatives of Germany and descendants of German immigrants gathered together to restore the city’s original German street names.

“I think it’s a cool idea to help honor and celebrate Cincinnati’s German heritage and the families that helped build the city,” senior Mackenzie Stenroos said.

Some streets in Over-the-Rhine (OTR) are going back to their original German names: Woodrow is changing to Berlin, Stonewall to Hamburg and Yukon to Hanove. Seven other major streets will keep their current names. However, the original German names will hang below the street signs.

Residents will be happy to know that because the signs are hanging below the original street names, they will not have to change their address labels to match them.
“It’s a great idea,” historian and Cincinnati native David Groh said. “Cincinnati obviously has a rich German heritage that should be honored. The Germans, unlike previous immigrants, settled in the interior of the country in places such as Ohio. It’s great the city has decided to honor these early settlers to the area.”

“I’ll be really happy that finally the wrongs of World War I will be addressed and made right,” President of the German-American Citizens League Don Heinrich Tolzmann said.
The names of the signs that will hang below the current street names are: Republic (Bremen) Street in OTR; Edgecliff (Brunswick) Point and Merrimac (Hapsburg) Street, both in Walnut Hills; Panama (Vienna) Street in California; Orion (Wilhelm) Street and Beredith (Schumann) Place, both in Pleasant Ridge and Connecticut (Frankfort) Avenue in College Hill.

“Cincinnati has a lot of German heritage and it’s interesting to pay homage to that in a small way,” senior Kyra Buffi said.

However, there are some people who are unhappy with the street signs merely hanging below the current street name signs. They would rather find places where residents would agree to change the names entirely.

“Based on their names and heritage, people were being discriminated against, and city council approved this,” Doug Newberry of Kennedy Heights said. “It was a wrong thing to do 100 years ago. 100 years is long enough.”

The city council must vote on the name changes today and City Councilman Chris Seelbach does not anticipate any opposition.

The council hopes that changing the street names will remind people of the damage caused by fearing entire groups of people.

“It shows history does repeat itself,” Seelbach said. “Too often we see entire ethnicities or races blamed for the actions of a small few. Whether it was German descendants in 1918 or Syrian refugees in 2016, we can’t keep fearing and blaming entire cultures within our society.”

By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~