West Side is the Best Side: Growing Up on the West Side of Cincinnati


There are many jokes about East Side vs. West Side in Cincinnati. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard most of them. 

The West Side (Bridgetown, Cheviot, Monfort Heights, Delhi, Colerain, Harrison, and Western Hills) is mostly anything west of I-75 and along I-74, whereas the East Side (Anderson, Hyde Park, Indian Hill, Eastgate, Madeira, Milford) is east of I-75 but still mostly within the I-275 loop. 

Sure, the West Side was a bit more middle class than the East Side, but let me explain why, in my opinion, what we lacked in grandeur we made up for in community. 

Close-Knit Community

My husband is not from the West Side and jokes that every time we go over there, I run into some I know. There has never been a more true statement! Whether it be a grocery store, gas station, or restaurant, I inevitably see someone from my childhood. That’s just because of how close-knit our community is. My parents hung out with a large group of friends when I was in grade school that pooled from all over the West Side. Because of that, I got to know people from other schools and communities, and this isn’t an uncommon story. I babysat quite frequently and got to know those families and their friends as well. The sense of a welcoming community is an overwhelming theme on the West Side.

If something needed to be done, there was always a connection somewhere. Since everyone knows everybody, if you don’t have a direct contact, just ask a friend who does. It was amazing to see the things you get done locally just by asking around, and chances are, you already knew the person!

Family Run Businesses

One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was going to Wonderlich’s Produce on Colerain Avenue with my dad on Saturday mornings. It was filled with fruits and veggies of every color. If we weren’t at Wonderlich’s, we were at Wassler Meats on Harrison Avenue stocking up on lunch meat, pork chops, and anything else that looked good from their meat case. My first job was at Cheviot IGA, which was a family-owned/operated independent grocery store. When we would choose to eat out for a meal, it was usually at one of the many local restaurants where everyone knew you, not chains. Friends I grew up with had families who owned West Side businesses such as bakeries, car repair shops, butchers, and so many more. 

The German Heritage

The West Side has deep German roots, and people are proud and fierce about it. I went to school with friends who had last names like Schuetz, Schlarmann, Schmidt, Ziegler, and Heinrich. We became very proficient at pronouncing these surnames! There’s even a German Heritage Museum at West Fork Park celebrating the original German immigrants. If you aren’t German living on the West Side, then I’m 100% certain you know someone who is. According to this article, the five most German communities in Cincinnati – Harrison, Delhi, Miami Township, Crosby Township, and Green Township – are on the West Side and have at least 50% of the population claiming to be of German heritage. 

For better or worse, because of the German roots, beer is a staple on the West Side. It was common for adults to bring their favorite to pool parties and other gatherings. There was no taboo about it because that’s how we all were raised. From Budweiser to Beck’s, beer was always the unspoken, invited guest. 

There are even whole festivals dedicated to the German heritage that are prominent in this area. Schützenfest, which has been in Cincinnati longer than the Reds, runs every July. The Germania Society is also located on the West Side. They are a non-profit committed to keeping German Heritage alive in Cincinnati.

Parish Festivals and Private Schools

An important and well-revered tradition on the West Side is parish festivals. There are many Catholic Parishes all over Cincinnati, but this area of the city boasts around 20 of them! Whether it be St. Ignatius, St. Antoninus, or St. Catharine of Sienna’s Cincitalia at Harvest Home Park, there is at least one festival to attend every weekend between June and August. Everyone has their favorite to attend, but it’s almost guaranteed you can find hi-low and beer at any one you choose. As a kid, the Parish Festival was THE event of the summer. It was the time to see your friends you hadn’t seen in a few months, and I just had to spend all of the quarters I had been saving since school let out.

Since this area has a high concentration of Catholic Parishes around, it also wasn’t uncommon to see kids out and about after school in their many school uniforms. The place to get them all was a local store in the heart of Price Hill, and every year my mom and I would make our annual pilgrimage there to purchase a new uniform. It wasn’t until I went outside of the West Side after school in my uniform and got strange looks that I realized this wasn’t the norm everywhere in Cincinnati. 

Great at Directions

It’s notorious that people who aren’t from this area get lost. There are some places that can take upwards of twenty minutes to get to a highway if you go deep in the West Side. Taking back roads is the norm for almost everywhere you go. Teenagers who are just starting to drive learn pretty quickly how to get from point A to point B without using the highway. Streets like Glenway Avenue, Bridgetown Road, and Colerain Avenue are the main throughways most West Siders use. 

When I was a student driver, I vividly remember my instructor taking me down Devils Backbone Road (someone must have been drinking strong German beer when naming that) and commenting on how well I handled the curves at my age. Lady, I had been riding these roads almost my whole life!

Combining winding roads with no major highways gives West Siders the advantage of being able to expertly navigate their way without much of a map. Sure, it might take you a few extra minutes, but you know turning on Race Road, staying straight when it turns into Glenway Avenue, then turning right onto Westbourne was the only way to get to General Custer’s. No major highways in sight!  

When I first moved, people would ask where I was from. I would shyly tell them with a slight grin that I was from the West Side and wait for the response. Usually, it was something along the lines of, “Oh!” or “Really?!” I felt like I was being judged. But as I got older, that shy grin turned into confidence because I knew I was proud of where I was from. I came from an area where there were no strangers, Sunday meals were made with local food, and everyone helped each other out as a community.

And that right there, ladies and gentlemen, is why, to me, the West Side will always be the best side.

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Kristin Latchaw
I am a born and raised Cincinnatian, and I love this city and everything it has to offer. I'm married to my wonderful husband, Joe, and our daughter is a spunky, opinionated toddler named Rozlyn. I was raised a West Sider, but moved northeast shortly before marriage. My husband teases that West Side roots run deep, and I cannot go anywhere without seeing someone I know! I love exploring the city with my little family. Some of the most fun we have had together is when we just get up and see where the day takes us. I am embracing my current role as a SAHM and constantly learning as I go!


  1. Love the article but what about a photo from the westside… The photo in this article and posted on social media is from the EASTSIDE! There are some of the most amazing photos taken from the westside looking at the city. In my opinion they are significantly better than any shot taken from Mt Adams or the Eastside. I get the view every day and have some photos if you need them

  2. Very well put. You couldnt has a westsider read this and have flash backs of our childhoods while reading, very much enjoyed. Thank you

  3. I too am proud to be from the Westside. My husband grew up just a few streets from me. And when we were married all the people that were in our wedding grew up on the Westside. In fact my maid of honor and the best man and my self and two other bridesmaid went to the same grade school. My daughter married a man who’s family went to the same Parish too! Would not change a thing!

  4. I grew up on the west side and you described our community well. Do want to note that St. Catharine is spelled with an “a”, though! Won’t ever forget my HS religion teacher correcting all of my “a’s” to “e’s” on the paper I wrote about my parish and docking my grade for misspelling. Had to bring in the church bulletin to prove my spelling was correct! Lol

    • My apologies! Autocorrect must have changed it but I just fixed it. I completely understand how important spelling is because I had to write St. Ignatius for 8 years!

  5. Thank you for a lovely article about my beloved Cincinnati. I’ve been away since 1977 when I married and moved away to Columbus, then Louisville. But not a day goes by that I don’t miss my days and memories of where I grew up in White Oak. Best to you.
    Nancy Ann Lawyer Sturdevant


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