Episode 14: John Schneider – The Future Great City podcast by nextSTL

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In this episode we speak with “Mr. Streetcar” John Schneider of Cincinnati about that city’s streetcar as it nears its opening date. A longtime downtown resident there, John has been instrumental in the biggest civic infrastructure projects in that city over the past 30 years. This episode was recorded at the 21C Hotel on the streetcar line in downtown Cincinnati.

John Schneider was a board member of Downtown Cincinnati, Inc. and served as its first transportation committee chair. In that role, he proposed and helped to advance the reconfiguration of Fort Washington Way (Interstate 71) through downtown, proposed the location for the new riverfront home of the Cincinnati Reds, and chaired the campaign that resulted in Hamilton County voters overwhelmingly approving the site of the Great American Ball Park.

Schneider is an alumnus of Leadership Cincinnati, vice chairman of the City Planning Commission, and chairs the Alliance for Regional Transit. He has authored many articles on Cincinnati’s planning and infrastructural issues and is a frequent speaker on rail transit. Former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory named Schneider “Mr. Streetcar” for his role in returning passenger rail transit to Cincinnati after a sixty-year absence.

Schneider is Managing Member of First Valley Holdings LLC, a redeveloper of property in and around downtown Cincinnati. John and his wife, April, have resided in downtown Cincinnati for many years.

*bio sourced from Rotary Club of Cincinnati

The Future Great City podcast by nextSTL is sponsored by Creatives on Call and Red Brick Realty.

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  • Chicagoan

    I love these dang podcasts.

    Though, one quip for Mr. Schneider about St. Louis being a rail city like Chicago, while Cincinnati embraced steamboats: Most historians would argue that St. Louis is more similar to Cincinnati than Chicago.

    In the early 19th-century, when Chicago was a backwater with a military fort, St. Louis was a cosmopolitan city containing 1,000 people. St. Louis’ port didn’t freeze in the winter and the city had been in support of the transportation innovation of the times: the steamboat. The power brokers in this industry held sway in the city and didn’t support the construction of railways, the emerging fad.

    Meanwhile, Chicago was growing, but didn’t love railways either. It took some serious boosterism from William Ogden, the first mayor of Chicago and the namesake of Ogden Avenue, to convince everyone to full on embrace railways. Chicago would embrace railways while St. Louis steamboat interests hampered them.

    By the time the Eads Bridge (My favorite bridge in the world!) was completed in the 1870’s, it was just too late and Chicago had overtaken St. Louis as the commercial hub of the Midwest.

    Side note: I believe the State of Illinois, keen to see Chicago overtake St. Louis, actively worked to tie up the Eads Bridge as long as possible. In the meantime, a bridge connecting Illinois and Iowa was built, insuring that Chicago would be the epicenter of railway freight traffic, which continues today. Credit to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg’s book “You Were Never In Chicago”, which is where I read all this.

    • rgbose

      I’d read The Great Heart of the Republic for more on the topic.

      • matimal

        I would too. Great Book.

      • Chicagoan

        I’m on it, thanks!