Cincinnati, Ohio | October, 2018


Hello, Cincinnati! It’s been two years since I last visited the land of my middle- and high school days. Of course my relationship to this city is totally different now as an adult. For one thing, I never actually explored downtown as a kid, instead just staying in my little suburban bubble, but for another, the city has totally transformed in the last decade. OTR (Over-The-Rhine) is so cool now, with all its hipster shops and restaurants. And look, here’s a Ferris wheel that popped up since my last visit!

First, dining and wandering OTR with my momma.

So many cute things in this shop… including my new favorite romper!

Suder’s Art Store, A classic art shop that’s stood strong since the 1920s.

Cincinnati Art Museum, with free admission at all times! The last time I was here was for Alice & Arthur’s wedding.

Views of the city from Eden Park.

And then I got to see Lauren and Joe and meet baby Joseph! See their portraits here.

Marv the cat.

I didn’t know this existed until I looked to see if there were any Cincinnati Public Library programs that gave free admission to things the way that we have in the Bay. And the answer is yes! It’s called the Discovery Pass, and you can get access to a handful of things including this Sign Museum, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, and you can check out three-day passes to the Hamilton County Parks system too. Also, I’m happy to report that my library card still works!

This was a pretty fun and educational museum, with so many things to look at. All sorts of American signage, new and old, from all over the country.

I love these hand-painted glass signs with all this gold lettering in the pre-neon days.

Look at all the different of colors possible for neon lights! I never really thought about this, but there are only a couple different colors possible from putting different gasses in the glass tubes, and the rest of the colors are made possible by combining these different gasses on the inside with different colored glass tubes on the outside!

Stopped by this cute plant shop!

And then I happened upon this fabric/yarn shop, Silk Road Textiles just down the street, and it’s owned by my past groom’s sister!

My mom is the original plant lady. She actually studied horticulture and landscape architecture!

Another loop around OTR. Cincinnati has a thing with pigs, from its history as porkopolis.

Indigo Hippo, a very cool art supply store! They take donations of supplies and then everything is pay-what-you-wish, but most impressive is how well organized it all is. Such a great community resource.

The Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, with its beautiful architecture by the late Zaha Hadid. I had the incredible honor of having my photograph shown in this museum a couple years ago. It’s always worth visiting this museum, since they are a non-collecting institution, so they have no permanent collections and their exhibits are always temporary and rotating. And as of the last year or two, admission is now always free!

The top floor is designed for kids. We are just big kids.

Heartbreaking exhibit. Here’s the full text from these photographs: Damaged Negatives: Scratched Portraits of Mrs. Baqari and her friend. Lebanese studio photographer Hashem el Madani (1928-2017) took these photos in the late 1950s, and recounts the sad story behind both their genesis and scarring. “These are negatives that were scratched because of a jealous husband, who never let his wife out by herself. She used to come frequently to be photographed with her sister before meeting him. After they got married, he was upset to know that she came to be photographed in my studio without telling him. He came asking for the negatives. I refused to give them to him, because they were on a 35mm roll. In the end we agreed that I would scratch the negatives of his wife with a pin, and I did it in front of him. Years later, after she burnt herself to death to escape her misery, he came back to me asking for enlargements of those photographs, or other photographs that she might have taken without his knowledge.”

Next door to the CAC is the 21C Museum Hotel. They have their own little rotating galleries of contemporary art.

Newly renovated Music Hall. Hopefully I can go for a tour or performance inside next time. We used to have symphony performances here growing up.

Exploring a new-to-me building downtown, the Dixie Terminal.

And also my first visit to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. It’s on the riverbank looking across at Kentucky.

Cincinnati played a prominent role in the underground railroad, since it was in a northern state (Ohio) just across the river from a southern one (Kentucky).

The museum has exhibits on the history of slavery to emancipation and also forms of modern slavery that still exist today.

A slave pen from Kentucky built in the 1800s. It was used as a holding pen by Kentucky slave trader, Capt. John W. Anderson, to temporarily keep enslaved people being moved farther south for sale.

Outside, a slim section of the Berlin Wall.

A little visit to the Roebling suspension bridge, a smaller version of Roebling’s later creation, the famous Brooklyn Bridge.

Last but not least, I am so glad that I got to visit Karen and Sam very briefly. I spy one of their wedding photos on their gallery wall!

Karen had just given birth to baby Harlow three days before. I’m so glad I got to meet her and gift her these little baby booties. Here’s Sam doing some sort of magic baby soothing move on her.

And not so happy Harlow.

Such a wonderfully full trip to Cincinnati this time around! New babies, quality time with my mom, and lots of art. ‘Til next time!

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at