The former industrial neighborhood is affordable, artistic, and on the move.
Just a few miles from Cincinnati’s revitalized Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Camp Washington is on the edge of its own revival. Thanks to a prime location adjacent to both downtown and uptown and a stock of historic late-19th-century row houses, Camp Washington has amassed a crew of committed business and property owners.
Better still: Cincinnati City Council recently took steps to designate Camp Washington as an entertainment district, pending state approval. If the effort succeeds, it will grant district-bound liquor licenses, encouraging new business growth and foot traffic.
The community has deep roots in manufacturing, housing everything from factories to meat-packing plants. But new developments have rallied to promote arts, culture, and sustainable urban living. Today’s Camp Washington is characterized by passionate volunteers and residents motivated around the goal of community development.
Here are a few of the groups and businesses that are putting Camp Washington back on the map:
American Sign Museum
One of the most visible examples of this historic neighborhood’s revival is the very colorful American Sign Museum. Displaying nearly 100 years of signs from around the country, from pre-electric to neon and beyond, this museum is a unique and vibrant living history of American industry. 1330 Monmouth Ave., (513) 541-6366, americansignmuseum.org
Camp Washington Chili
This local landmark was founded in 1940 and still turns out its celebrated version of the famous Cincinnati chili 24 hours a day, six days a week (closed Sundays). Stop in for a coney or a three-, four-, or five-way. They also serve breakfast all day on Saturdays. 3005 Colerain Ave., (513) 541-0061, campwashingtonchili.com
It seems fitting that this art center is set in an old Camp Washington firehouse. That’s because Wave Pool’s status as a community-driven art gallery isn’t just a mission statement; it’s part of its DNA. Programs range from art critiques to lectures to yoga, with the vision of “using experimental art to connect communities.” 2940 Colerain Ave., (513) 600-6117, wavepoolgallery.org
Camp Washington Urban Farm
Communities can’t be successful without access to good, healthy food. Which is why Camp Washington Urban Farm (CWUF) works to provide neighborhood food pantries with fresh produce from its two-and-a-half-acre farm, operated on the site of the old Cincinnati Work House and Hospital, which was open from 1869 until 1985. (The buildings have since been demolished, but according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, you can still see the door of a jail cell, the yard bell, and a prisoner registry on display at the Hamilton County Justice Center.) CWUF’s main aims—to make wholesome food accessible to Camp Washington residents and make use of an empty public space—show a dedication to community and neighborhoods is at the heart of the Urban Farm project. 3220 Colerain Ave., (513) 256-8908, camp-washington.org
Mom ‘n’ Em
Neighborhoods often have either a good coffee shop or a good wine shop, but Mom ‘n’ Em is both. Recently named one of the best coffee shops in America by Food & Wine Magazine, Mom ‘n’ Em is the brainchild of the Ferrari brothers (of Ferrari Brothers Barber, Fausto Ferrari). The light-filled shop, set on the first floor of a historic Camp Washington row house, is dedicated to their own mother Theresa Ferrari, whom you may just see behind the counter if you’re lucky. 3128 Colerain Ave., (513) 390-7681, momnemcoffee.com