northside firehouse 1895What is now known as Northside was originally home to two tribes of the Miami Indians, the Twightwees and the Pickawillanies. The first wave of European American settlers arrived in March of 1790. Surveys from the late 1700s listed this area as Mill Creek Township. Neighborhood Beginnings Northside has been called many things since the late 18th century. In 1788, John Cleves Symmes, an owner of vast tracts of land in the Northwest Territory, gave the area its first official name, “Millcreek Station.” Two years later Israel Ludlow, a surveyor of the Miami Purchase, built his blockhouse as one of the chain of forts surrounding Cincinnati and called it “Ludlow Station.” When Ephraim Knowlton, who came to the area in 1825 to supervise the digging of a mile of the Miami-Erie Canal, became the first postmaster in 1883, he named the post office “Cumminsville” in honor of his friend David Cummins, a local tanner. In the 19th century, Cumminsville carried a number of nicknames. “Tanyard Gridiron” and “Tannery” referred to the first business other than a tavern to operate here.

Rockford Woods in Northside

It was called “Helltown” during the 1820’s because of the rowdy crews that came to dig the canal. After the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton Railroad (CHD) was completed in 1850 along Vandalia Street (which veers off Hamilton Avenue to the west at the Hamilton/Blue Rock intersection), “North Side” meant that part of Cumminsville north of the CHD railroad tracks. The name of the community has long been a subject of discussion and debate. As early as 1883, the North Side Transcript, a neighborhood newspaper, reported the controversy. Those living to the north preferred North Side and those living to the south preferred Cumminsville. The original community of Cumminsville was much larger than what is known today as Northside. A large section of Cumminsville, south of Knowlton’s Corner, was cut off from the rest of the neighborhood by the construction of Interstates 75 and 74, and today is known as the neighborhood of “South Cumminsville.” Eventually, “Northside” became the official name for the area bordered by Interstates 75 and 74 on the south, Mt. Airy Forest, on the west, London Village and Buttercup Valley on the north, and Spring Grove Cemetery on the east.The first stores were built at the corner of Hamilton and Spring Grove Avenues by Ephraim Knowlton between 1830 and 1847. By 1930, Knowlton’s Corner was the third largest business district in the county. The shopping district remained popular and busy until the 1960s, when several large manufacturers— and major employers—left Northside. In 1982, the City of Cincinnati designated the Northside Historic District, which stretches along Hamilton Avenue, from the Ludlow Avenue viaduct to Chase Avenue.