Cincinnati actually began as three small settlements - Columbia, North Bend, and Losantiville - founded on the Ohio River in 1788-1789. In 1790, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, made Losantiville the seat of Hamilton County. He renamed the settlement in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, of which he was president. (The society, incidentally, was named for the Roman hero Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.) Heralded as one of the first "boomtowns" in the U.S., Cincinnati quickly grew to encompass Columbia and North Bend. Steamboat traffic on the Ohio, along with the completion of the Miami and Erie Canal, made Cincinnati a transportation center. The city also served as a supply center and point of embarkation for settlers and explorers headed west. Cincinnati's prominent meat-packing industry gave rise to the nickname "Porkopolis," while poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow endorsed the more genteel sobriquet "Queen of the West." Cincinnati played an important part in the anti-slavery movement prior to the Civil War, as abolitionists gathered in the city to argue for the end of slavery across the river in Kentucky. Cincinnati also served as an important stop in the Underground Railroad. The years following the Civil War brought the corrupt political machine of Boss Cox, who remained in power for almost 40 years. A reform movement, brought about by Murray Seasongood, eliminated the ward system and introduced the city manager form of government. Since then, Cincinnati has been hailed as America's best-governed city.
Cincinnati's downtown area was recently redeveloped, and now includes an elaborate skywalk system connecting many of the major hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, office buildings, and the Cincinnati Convention Center. The city is home to Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati, and boasts a number of cultural amenities, such as the Cincinnati Ballet,the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Opera. The Cincinnati Art Museum, located in Eden Park, was founded in 1881 and features a collection of over 60,000 works spanning 6,000 years.
The Cincinnati Reds (MLB) were founded in 1866 as the Cincinnati Red Stockings and became the first all-professional baseball team in 1869. The city is also home to the Cincinnati Bengals (NFL), and has hosted the Cincinnati Masters tennis tournament since 1899.
The city hosts a number of festivals and events every year. Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati celebrates Cincinnati's German heritage and is second in size only to the original festival in Munich. Cincinnati honors its river heritage with Riverfest every Labor Day weekend, as well as the Tall Stacks, a sporadically scheduled music, arts, and heritage festival held in honor of the city's riverboats. During the International Festival of Lights, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden celebrates the holiday season with fireworks, ice skating, an Enchanted Village, and over 2.5 million lights! Other popular attractions in Cincinnati include the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, the historic Hyde Park neighborhood, and the Fountain Square Plaza downtown.