24 June 2008

Cincinnati History Moment: North Bend, Losantiville, Columbia

Something of a segue from the previous post...

At first Columbia grew faster than Losantiville or North Bend... Columbia, however had a fatal flaw-- it lay on such low ground that it flooded regularly.

Symmes harbored grand visions for North Bend. He believed its closeness to the Great Miami would enable it to control the trade of the rich farmland of the interior, which Symmes considered the "Egypt on the Miami." Like Columbia, natural limitations checked North Bend's potential. The hilly character of the town prevented easy expansion.

Losantiville, the middle village, had certain advantages over the others. As in Columbia and North Bend, the riverfront offered the hope for controlling the trade of the Ohio. Losantiville, however, was like a giant amphitheater. The flatland along the river stretched back 800 feet to approximately where Third Street is today. Losantiville also sat immediately across from the mouth of the Licking River, an important artery flowing out from the more developed territory of Kentucky. It was this strategic location that persuaded the government in late 1789 to erect Fort Washington at Losantiville.

On January 2, 1790, General Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, arrived to inspect Fort Washington. Although he approved of the fort and the village, he did not like the name Losantiville*. He soon changed it to Cincinnati in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization of Revolutionary War officers to which he belonged.

*Losantiville was coined by surveyor John Filson. It was a combination of Latin and French word pieces, os meant "mouth," anti meant "across from," ville meant "town," and the L meant either the French "Le" or was the first letter of the Licking River. So "Losantiville" meant "town opposite the mouth of the Licking River."

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