Cincinnati’s German heritage dates all the way back to the city’s inception in 1788. Even today, it is estimated that between 50 and 60 percent of Cincinnati’s are of German decent. From being home to its own Hofbrauhaus, to hosting the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich, it’s clear that Cincinnatians are proud of their heritage. But if that’s the case, why are there no German street names?
The streets of Cincinnati were once predominantly given German names. But as tensions between Germany and the US increased, and the United States entered World War I, Cincinnatians no longer felt proud of their heritage. Amidst fear and hysteria, hundreds of Germans changed their names to sound more American, and to dispel myths that they were German spies . Engraved German names on buildings were scratched out, people burned German books and newspapers in bonfires. And in April of 1918, just less than 100 years ago, Cincinnati City Council voted to change 12 German street names to more “American” names.
Now after 99 years, Cincinnati is working to bring back some of the city’s original German pride. In the last century, we’ve seen many other groups receive blame for the ills or fears of our country. From World War II to the Vietnam Era, our country has continued to see fear segregate communities and cause ridicule and discrimination. While it may be a small step, Cincinnati returning to some of its original street names is an attempt at righting a wrong that occurred several decades ago. The return of the prior street names also is meant to honor German families who helped build our city.
“I’ll be really happy that finally the wrongs of World War I will be addressed and made right,” said Tolzmann, president of the German-American Citizens League.
The following streets will officially be renamed:
- Woodrow Street in Lower Price Hill will be renamed Berlin Street
- Stonewall Street in Over-the-Rhine will be renamed Hamburg Street
- Yukon Street in Over-the-Rhine will be renamed Hanover Street
- The seven streets that will be given honorary secondary names are
- Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine will also be called Bremen Street
- Edgecliff Point in Walnut Hill will also be called Brunswick Place
- Connecticut Avenue in College Hill will also be called Frankfort Avenue
- Merrimac Street in Evanston will also be called Hapsburg Street
- Beredith Place in Pleasant Ridge will also be called Schumann Street
- Panama Street in California will also be called Vienna Street
- Orion Avenue in Pleasant Ridge will also be called Wilhelm Street