The Beginnings of Our Distinctive Suburb

The area known as Price Hill was occupied by Native American tribes long before the European settlers came in the late 18th century.

There once stood an Indian mound at the corner of Rapid Run Road and Overlook Avenue, one of several in western Cincinnati and later the site of the Elberon Country Club.  The mound , most likely built by a Woodland tribe, would have dated back to the Woodland Period, 500 BC-1000AD. When those European settlers arrived both Shawnee and Miami Indians were living in the vicinity. The area was a wilderness of forest and streams, hills and bluffs, wild and beautiful. Although both tribes farmed and hunted, the area was basically untamed by those who lived there.

Shawnee Lookout Park in North Bend offers a look back to what our area was like during the time of the Native Americans. The park offers spectacular views of the Ohio River and Great Miami River valleys. Recent archaeological discoveries indicate that this site could be the largest continuously occupied hilltop Native American site in the United States, going back 14,000 years.

Boldface Park , in Sedamsville, was named after Chief Boldface, a Miami chief. Little seems to be known about him. Even his demise is in dispute. One story states that in 1790 Jacob Wetzel was hunting in the area when he came upon Chief Boldface. A fierce fight ensued and at the end of it the Chief lay dead. Another version states that Chief Boldface was killed in 1790 in a massacre. Whatever version is correct, it is a testament to the importance of the Native Americans that Price Hill was originally named Boldface Hill.

Like all of Greater Cincinnati, Price Hill was once part of the Symmes Purchase. John Cleves Symmes, a congressman from New Jersey, heard about the virgin land along the  Ohio River from Ben Stites, who passed through the area while trying to recover stolen horses. Symmes immediately bought a million acres at sixty-nine cents per acre. He ran ads in newspapers, praising the virtues and glories of the Ohio land. Stites was rewarded with a grant of ten thousand acres, He built a small settlement in 1788 near what is now Lunken Airport. He called the settlement Columbia, and the new settlers tore apart their rafts to build temporary shelters.

In 1789, Israel Ludlow arrived and started building the town of Losantiville ("city across from the Licking River") west of the village of Columbia. Symmes himself landed near North Bend and decided it was the perfect spot for his city. Unfortunately, the military decided to build a military post called Fort Washington near Losantiville. Governor Arthur St. Clair renamed the city to Cincinnati, in honor of the Revolutionary War Officer's Society of Cincinnatus. The other smaller settlements along the river could not compete with the security of a military fort, and Cincinnati grew to be the largest city in the area.

The Treaty of Greenville was signed in 1795 and the Native Americans moved west. Without the treat of attack, Cincinnati prospered. New people arrived by flatboat every day. With the advent of the steamboat, the Ohio River became one of the most important avenues of transportation, and Cincinnati became an important port. The city grew rapidly, and by 1815 there were 6,000 residents in the basin on the Ohio River. Hospitals, schools, and public buildings appeared, along with businesses and factories. By 1828, there were 20,000 people living here. There was a stagecoach to Cleveland, steam engine factories, a sugar refinery, paper mills, and a lot of printing plants. Cincinnati became a world-renowned printing center, a distinction she held for more than a century.

As Cincinnati grew in the 19th century, due to steamboat traffic, hog packing, and other businesses and industries, the basin on the Ohio River became heavily populated and polluted by factory smoked. Surrounded by our "Seven Hills",  movement to the west and east of the basin was difficult.




 This region was high enough and far enough away to escape the pollution and crowdedness of the inner city. One such resident was General Rees E. Price, who purchased and developed large parts of the hill. The area was then called "Price's Hill", later shortened to "Price Hill".