The Cincinnati-Clifton Incline Plane, better known as the Bellevue Incline, connected Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine to Ohio Avenue in Clifton Heights. It was touted as “the only direct route to Burnet Woods Park, Zoological Garden and Clifton.” The Elm Street steps used to run adjacent to the incline from McMicken to Clifton avenues where the steps would terminate and the incline would bridge Clifton Avenue on its way to the summit at what is now Bellevue Hill Park. For many years, the Bellevue House stood at the top of the incline and was a popular destination for dancing and leisure.
This ornate resort that once was perched on the edge of the hill at the end of Ohio Avenue, in what is now Bellevue Hill Park, had a 400-foot-high rotunda, a wrap-around veranda and a crow’s nest view of the city. It is memorialized today with a small bronze plaque and a lovely patch of flowers. The stone pier still stands near the sidewalk on Clifton Avenue halfway between the park and the bottom of the hill. Its twin, which stood across the street, is long gone. The two piers once formed a bridge of the Bellevue Incline over Clifton Avenue. Signage nearby says, “Welcome to Clifton Heights.”
An example of organic architecture, the park’s pavilion was designed by architect R. Carl Freund in 1955 to serve as an outdoor dancing venue. It features a cantilever roof, bandstand and three pergolas that form the pavilion’s signature concrete canopy.
2191 Ohio Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45219
- Picnic Area
- Comfort Station/Restrooms
- Historic Feature/Public Art
Bellevue Hill Park(Clifton Heights)
- Pavilion: Built in 1955 when outdoor dancing was the rage, this stone building has a circular domed core with a flat cantilevered roof over a recessed bandstand and dancing area. Three mushroom-shaped concrete pergolas, each with a canopy of open grillwork supported by a cluster of columns, were intended to be planted with vines. One of Freund’s last works for Cincinnati Parks, it reflects the strong influence of Frank Lloyd Wright and his organic approach to architecture.