Cincinnati is Ohio's third largest city and the 66th largest city in the United States. The city sits on the border of Ohio and Kentucky at the meeting of the Ohio River and the Licking River. Cincinnati's population is slowly declining. In 2017, the population of Cincinnati is estimated at 301,301.
Cincinnati has had a steadily declining population for several decades. Between 2000 and 2010, the population dropped from 331,300 to 296,900. While the worst of the decline seems to be over, Cincinnati still has not recovered its previous population.
Population Size and Population Density
The population of Cincinnati is estimated at 301,301 with a population density of 3,810 Cincinnatians per square mile. The urban population is estimated at 1.5 million, while the metropolitan area has about 2.12 million residents.
Strained Racial Relations in Cincinnati
Cincinnati has historically been predominantly white, with a 1940 white population accounting for 88% of the population. Cincinnati has dealt with strained race relations for much of its history, however. Due to its location on the Ohio River, the city was a border town between Kentucky, a slave state, and Ohio, with many residents playing a role in abolitionism. Many fugitive slaves also crossed at Cincinnati to escape North, and it had several stations on the Underground Railroad.
There have been many race riots in Cincinnati. The earliest occurred in 1829 when a riot broke out as anti-abolitionists attacked black people in the city, with other riots happening in 1836 and 1841.
One of the most recent racially-charged riots occurred in 2001 when police shot and killed a black man during a foot pursuit. Racial agitation again reared its head with the case of a university officer named Ray Tensing and his actions in the death of Samuel DuBose, which lead to some protests and two mistrials in court as juries became deadlocked and could not reach an agreement.
Cincinnati was founded in 1788. The original surveyor of the area, John Filson, originally named the settlement Losantiville, which combines four terms from different languages to mean "the town opposite the mouth of the Licking River." The agreement was renamed Cincinnati in 1790 by Arthur St. Clair to honor the Society of the Cincinnati, which honored General George Washington, who was considered a latter-day Cincinnatus.
By 1819, the city was incorporated. The introduction of steam navigation on the Ohio River helped Cincinnati grow to 115,000 people by 1850, and the area began to multiply. In its early history, Cincinnati depended heavily on trade with slave states to the south and African Americans began to settle the area in growing numbers. This led to tensions and racially-fueled riots.
Cincinnati later played a significant role in the Civil War, serving as a source for troops and supplies for the Union Army. While Cincinnati later made it through the Great Depression better than most large cities in the United States, it was devastated not long afterward by the flood of 1937, one of the worst floods in the history of the country.
Cincinnati was a major boomtown in the heart of the United States for the early part of the 19th century, but by the end of the city, as the country moved from steamboats to railroads, the city was surpassed in importance and population by other cities like Chicago.
Cincinnati Population Growth
Like many other large industrial cities, Cincinnati recorded a peak population in 1950 and it has steadily lost people since. Cincinnati has lost 43% of its peak population, while its metropolitan area has doubled in population.
Municipal boundaries have remained unchanged since 1950, yet thousands of pre-war homes and apartments have now been replaced by non-residential structures, including expressways, hospitals, and universities.
Cincinnati is in a tight position, as increasing the population in the city proper would now require higher rents, increased traffic and most likely the demolition of many historic buildings for the construction of high-rise apartments.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently rated the U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest and lowest projected job growth. Cincinnati was ranked as one of the bottom ten urban areas for job growth, which does not bode well for increased population in the near future.