Many Cincinnatians pride themselves in knowing every corner of their city, but few truly know the city inside and out. You haven’t seen the depth of the city until you’ve experienced the Queen City Underground Tour.
In the 1800s Over-the-Rhine was a booming brewery district, so much so that the local breweries built tunnels that served as sub-basements. The tunnels were used to lager and store the beer due to its cool and consistent temperatures. These tunnels were closed off to the public by the late 1800s and soon were forgotten.
That is, until "the tunnels were discovered a little less then ten years ago, when the owner of the building was looking through some architectural drawings," says Laura Gels of American Legacy Tours.
The Queen City Underground Tour is entering its second year of guiding curious participants through this intriguing tour as it weaves its way through Over-the-Rhine and goes to depths under the city. Gels promises a good time to be had by all as participants learn tidbits of history, discover new places and see Cincinnati from a unique perspective.
"We start at the Cincy Haus and begin with a bit of history about how Over-the-Rhine got its name," says Gels. "We then go to the theater district, an old beer hall and a brewery tunnel that’s about 75 feet underground and end inside St. Francis Crypts."
Crypts sound like they’re only found in ancient Egypt, but in fact, Cincinnati is home to its own hidden burial vault. It is located under the St. Francis Seraph Catholic Church on Vine Street. The church was built over a Catholic cemetery, and the remains were excavated and then entombed in the church’s crypt.
When the underground tour visits the crypt, participants get to see it firsthand and see how the old tombstones were then used to pave the floor of the crypt. Along the way through the tunnels and crypt, tour observers will learn how Cincinnati got its many nicknames through its history, including an interesting story about how it was once known as the "Paris of the West."
Not only is the underground tour a fun and different weekend adventure, but it also offers an insight into the city beyond the surface. "It’s an opportunity to see why Cincinnati is so special. We have a very unique history and our tours allow you to learn a bit about it," says Gels. "It’s also a great date – we’ve had many first dates [go on tours] and a few proposals."
Final Friday is becoming quite popular, with more and more people wanting to get involved in the last Friday of every month’s activities. During July’s Final Friday, the people at American Legacy Tours are getting in on the action by offering their popular Queen City is Haunted tour. Typically, this tour is offered for a limited time around Halloween, but this year American Legacy Tours is bringing out the ghosts and ghouls for a night of frightful fun on July 29.
Those brave enough to take part in this walking tour will hear stories of ghosts who have haunted Over-the-Rhine for over a century and tales of gruesome murders, including the ghosts of Music Hall. Participants will also have the chance to learn about Cincinnati’s Murder College as well as about the Tri-State’s most prolific killer. If you miss out on this tour during Final Friday, you will have to wait for October before getting in on some of Cincinnati’s eerie history.
The Queen City Underground tour is open to kids of all ages and very affordable as a family outing. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children under the age of 12. Tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays. For specific times, information on other tours or to buy tickets, visit www.americanlegacytours.com.