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Old 07-09-2011, 01:59 PM
 
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We are relocating back to the Cinci area after being away for several years. Previously, we lived in one of the northern suburbs. While we liked living there, we didn't love it. We have young, school aged children who will attend public school. We know all about the positives and negatives of most of the northern 'burbs (Montgomery, Blue Ash, Loveland, Mason, West Chester, etc).

What we want to learn more about, however, are some of the areas closer in to the city (jobs are downtown). What can you tell me about the Clifton area? It seems to have some lovely older homes.
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Old 07-09-2011, 05:40 PM
 
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Clifton Gaslight is one of the most dynamic, eclectic, charming and beautiful neighborhoods in the Midwest. I love bringing visitors to Cincinnati to Ludlow area. It's easily, in my opinion, the most diverse of Cincinnati's pocket neighborhoods with a healthy mix of college students and full-time residents. The restaurants, coffee shops, Esquire Theatre, quirky stores, pubs, pizza joints, the proximity to the zoo ... it can't be beat. And most of the homes are beautiful decades-old structures that have a history.

The fact that it's minutes from downtown only adds to its prestige.
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Old 07-09-2011, 06:20 PM
 
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I live in Clifton and love it! 10 minutes from everywhere exciting in the city, plus all the great ethnic food. We also have some great pizza joints including Mac's Pizza.

I live in an Italianate built in 1908 and love it's old charm with big moldings and wood floors. I simply love Cincinnati architecture
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Old 07-09-2011, 06:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Cincybound2 View Post
We are relocating back to the Cinci area after being away for several years. Previously, we lived in one of the northern suburbs. While we liked living there, we didn't love it. We have young, school aged children who will attend public school. We know all about the positives and negatives of most of the northern 'burbs (Montgomery, Blue Ash, Loveland, Mason, West Chester, etc).

What we want to learn more about, however, are some of the areas closer in to the city (jobs are downtown). What can you tell me about the Clifton area? It seems to have some lovely older homes.
Among other amenities, Clifton has one of Cincinnati Public Schools' better magnet elementaries: Fairview German Language School. Other than the magnet schools and a handful of high-performing neighborhood schools, the public system may well pose a problem for you.

Progmac who frequents this board can tell you more about getting kids into a magnet school. Apparently it's not as difficult as I thought. One of my neighbors has a child in Fairview and told me the other day, matter-of-factly, that the younger brother "will also attend there when he's old enough." So I guess it's doable.
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Old 07-10-2011, 07:02 AM
 
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if you live in clifton, will your kids go to the german school, or do you have to apply to get in? Is it a given that you can get your kids into that school?
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
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Without a doubt there are some really handsome old homes in Clifton, or as my dad used to call them the big old barns. That was a term he used loosely as his painting contractor business did a lot of work on them for the old money owners. As a young kid I spent many an hour doing such tasks as removing all of the door knobs, hinges, window lifts and locks, etc. hardware from the entire house to be sent out for replating. This was of course during a full remodel which sometimes took months.

I remember dad commenting the old places could be a bear on utilities. The original heating systems were mostly hot water boilers and radiators. When people wanted to add air-conditioning it could present a problem since there was no ductwork to support it. Adding air-conditioning without cosmetically ruining the original design was a challenge.

But the one thing which sticks out in my memory was the fact so many of the original frame structures required exterior painting on a regular basis. I remember dad saying the enemy of paint is moisture, and most of these houses do not have sufficient barriers to prevent interior moisture from coming through the walls to escape, particularly during the cold weather, low outside pressure months. But the exterior paint film stops the moisture which in turn causes the paint to peel.

So I recall several owners who would decide to clad the exterior with either aluminum or vinyl to cut down the constant repainting, as people like my father did not work cheap. Also, they would often decided to try and upgrade the insulation value of the home, which likely originally had none, while they were at it. This involved drilling holes through the exterior siding and blowing loose insulation into the wall cavities prior to the new siding being applied. This did improve the heating/cooling loss, but it was a recipe for disaster. By filling the wall cavities they stopped all of the interior air circulation which originally took place. In many of the older homes there was an air space up the exterior walls from the basement to the attic which provided circulation and drying. By cutting this off, the blown in insulation acted like a sponge, capturing and retaining the water vapor. The added exterior siding was a great water vapor, preventing the moisture from escaping. I have literally seen such structures which after 5 years you could pull off the added exterior siding and everything behind it was just pulp, completely rotted including all of the wall studs. A house completely destroyed.

My dad was just a simple painter, but in some respects very wise in his area. His solution to the above was to coat all of the interior walls and ceilings of the home with a good vapor barrier sealer. By then lead paint was already being discontinued. So he would take white shellac with some pigment and spray all of the interior walls and ceilings to seal them. Since most homes need an auxiliary humidifier to replace the moisture escape during the winter, preventing it from escaping in the first place is not disadvantageous.

Pursue your older home in Clifton, but be especially vigilant in finding an inspector who can evaluate what you are purchasing. There are some equally imposing properties in Avondale, but I would not advise locating there. Think about that a minute, two adjacent areas with equal history but you are being advised one is a great place to live while avoid the other. Frankly I am a little skeptical about this.
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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Yes, kj, but people who move into North Avondale tend to not want to leave despite the ghetto heII that lies from Dana Ave southward. Cities are strange that way. Plenty of folks with the finances to live wherever they choose also settle east of Clifton Ave and stay put. The social-climbing Goyguy Sr's have been to house parties on Greendale, a street which has some elegant "barns" but descends directly to a rundown stretch of Vine St. The homeowners admit to having a burglar-alarm system and deadbolted doors but say they've never really felt uncomfortable. And for as long as I can remember, other streets like Glenmary and Woolper that traverse the boundary have stayed upscale on one end and downscale at the opposite end. (That means there's been no shift in either direction for close to half a century.)
Clifton, North Avondale, and East Walnut Hills are THE places to find in-city houses that could rightfully be called mansions. But after being raised to be a city kid (albeit in suburbia) and spending most of adulthood as an urban dweller I have to say that it takes a certain type to make it work. Along with common-sense home security measures which now are also being taken in most of the 'burbs one needs to adapt in other ways. The probability of being confronted by a vagrant (spare me the PC "homeless") person in the commercial districts is far greater than it would be in Blue Ash. And they aren't always standing to the side quietly rattling their cup of change. Curbside trash pickup may be done less frequently. The closer you get to Ludlow Ave, the higher the transiency rate due to all of the students who only live there until they've finished with school. (Chances are also slim that unfettered adults usually aged between 18 and 27 would have much to do with the family up the block, or want to, and vice-versa. So you potentially have a neighborhood of strangers.)
I loooooove me some Clifton Gaslight and also enjoy doing side street drive-arounds of North Avondale and EWH, to go all googly-eyed over the amazing homes. My cautionary notes hopefully won't detract from the full picture of Clifton in particular, b/c if I ever have to return to Cincy after decades of being spoiled by the ethnic hodgepodge and cultural richness of the Northeast it's probably where I'd end up.
The schools are a whole 'nother thing, though. It's curious that people seem confident of their children's being able to get into Fairview when it was all over the news last summer about how parents were camping on the school lawn for days ahead of time to ensure their lil' darlin' was selected. There are some other bright shining stars in the CPS firmament, but not many: the "excellent" rated Hartwell and Kilgour Elementaries, the Montessori schools...um...er...maybe that's it. What looms most ominous in many minds is: If Johnnetta or Johnny doesn't pass the exam for SCPA or Walnut Hills, what then? Look over the entire city and just about all you'll see is secondary schools in "Academic Emergency," with outlying Western Hills and Aiken not much better.
For more "family-oriented" communities I'm also a fan of Pleasant Ridge, Mt Lookout, Oakley, Hartwell, Hyde Park, Mt Washington, Paddock Hills, and Columbia-Tusculum without reservation. WITH reservation I also like Kennedy Heights, Mt Airy, Price Hill, Roselawn (probably famously by now), Madisonville, Westwood, College Hill, and the mansion neighborhoods mentioned earlier. The neighborhoods "liked with reservation" all echo the theme of North Avondale, and east of Clifton Ave. Some streets are populated by friendly and interesting people who take good care of their nice houses and pretty yards. But as close as one block over that changes for the worse. And there are some parts of these areas where you just plain don't want to go. It all goes back to whether or not you're cut out for urban living.
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Old 07-10-2011, 02:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Bopfletch View Post
if you live in clifton, will your kids go to the german school, or do you have to apply to get in? Is it a given that you can get your kids into that school?
You have to apply, and I don't know how hard it is to get in. Also possible that if you have one child there, you get some kind of preference with getting a second one in? At any rate, you might message Progmac and ask him for some "real people experience" about the application process for the magnet schools.
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Old 07-10-2011, 02:26 PM
 
2,886 posts, read 3,956,094 times
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Originally Posted by goyguy View Post
...The social-climbing Goyguy Sr's have been to house parties on Greendale, a street which has some elegant "barns" but descends directly to a rundown stretch of Vine St. The homeowners admit to having a burglar-alarm system and deadbolted doors but say they've never really felt uncomfortable...
Oh, perk. Hubby and I were pretty seriouly interested in buying a house on Greendale, up on the end near Clifton. So I was doing that thing that I recommend to people here, sitting parked in my car in front of the house for hours at a time, imagining myself relaxing on the large, beautiful front porch but in the meantime watching all the car and foot traffic going by. Damned if I didn't see a crazy-acting guy come walking up the sidewalk, dancing around, talking to himself and WAVING A HANDGUN. I swear I'm not making this up. It didn't immediately put me off the house, which was overpriced and had a major structural problem with an exterior wall anyway. But it certainly did put me off the fantasy of taking a nice little afternoon nap on my porch.
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Sarah Perry View Post
Oh, perk. Hubby and I were pretty seriouly interested in buying a house on Greendale, up on the end near Clifton. So I was doing that thing that I recommend to people here, sitting parked in my car in front of the house for hours at a time, imagining myself relaxing on the large, beautiful front porch but in the meantime watching all the car and foot traffic going by. Damned if I didn't see a crazy-acting guy come walking up the sidewalk, dancing around, talking to himself and WAVING A HANDGUN. I swear I'm not making this up. It didn't immediately put me off the house, which was overpriced and had a major structural problem with an exterior wall anyway. But it certainly did put me off the fantasy of taking a nice little afternoon nap on my porch.

Yikes!!! This is the sort of thing I was afraid I'd hear. My husband loves the idea of living in an area like Clifton, but I don't think he is prepared for this type of reality. There are some undesirable areas a few streets in all directions, and it's inevitable that things similar to what you describe will happen (not crazy, gun wielding men walking the streets every day, but certainly undesirable things of that sort).
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