Westwood’s History

About Westwood

Westwood Town Hall

Westwood Town Hall

Westwood is Cincinnati’s largest neighborhood. Over 30,000 residents in this 6 square mile area have chosen Westwood as their home, for good reason.

Westwood offers a variety of homes to its residents ranging from those with old world charm to new homes such as those in the 2004 Citirama. Whether you are looking for a Victorian, Four Square, Tudor, Ranch, Contemporary, or new construction, Westwood has something to offer.

In 2004, Cincinnati Magazine featured Westwood in an article that selected the best neighborhoods in the area. Westwood was selected for the “I need a trendy address” category to represent the West Side.

The neighborhood is known for its close proximity to downtown, the interstates, and tree lined streets. Many parts of the neighborhood were built for walking and offer beautiful views as you turn the corner.

In the historic parts of the neighborhood you can hear the church bells ring as you relax on your porch, or take a stroll to one of the many neighborhood business. Some such as Sontag’s Dry Cleaner, Ken’s Barber Service, Pohlman’s Upholstery, and Keidel’s Supply have been in the neighborhood for generations, while newer establishments such as Henke Winery, Rondo’s restaurant, and The Coffee Cap are a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

In the heart of the neighborhood is collection of buildings which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Several buildings comprise this district. The Westwood Town Hall, a Romanesque structure built in 1889, is situated on approximately 2 acres at the corner of Harrison and Montana. Other supporting buildings are the Fire House, Westwood Elementary, and the recently renovated Westwood Library.

Early History
Westwood United Methodist Church

Westwood United Methodist Church

Westwood, a western suburb of Cincinnati, is home to more than 35,000 people today. Two hundred years ago, the area was very sparsely populated. James Goudy, who built a log cabin in 1802, was one of the first known settlers. Shortly thereafter, in 1809, Green Township was formed and much of what is currently Westwood formed the southeastern part of the township

During the 1830’s, tradesmen, commercial investors, and professional people began to establish country estates in the area to get away from the smoke and smells of the city. This was especially true during the heat of the summer. As a result, some of these homes were seasonal. Boarding houses could also be found to accommodate those escaping the city during the summer but who could not afford to own a home here.

The Village of Westwood

On September 14, 1868, Westwood was incorporated as a village. One of the major reasons was that the residents wanted to build their own school to have better control of their children’s education. At the time, there were about 100 homes scattered throughout Westwood. Except for a few areas that were platted into lots, most of Westwood was dotted with small farms (averaging 20 acres) and country estates (averaging 75 acres). The wealthy farmers, merchants, and gentry wanted to maintain the country feel. They hoped that lots would be no smaller than five to ten acres.

A Westwood Home

At Home in Westwood

The sought after school was built in 1870 at the site of the current Westwood School. The 1870s and 1880s brought with them many improvements in roads and sidewalks but growth was still slow. In 1880, the census was about 860. Those with time and money could afford to live in Westwood, but for most people who worked in the city, it was difficult to cross the Mill Creek valley and traverse the steep terrain.

A number of Westwood community leaders spearheaded a drive to construct a railroad that would help to overcome the transportation issues and, therefore, make the area more attractive. In the mid 1870s, a narrow gauge railroad was born called the Cincinnati and Westwood Railroad. Unfortunately it ran into financial problems almost from the start. Operations came to a halt in 1886. The railroad was started back up a year later due to efforts of community leaders and was converted to a regular gauge in 1891.

1889 brought the construction of the Westwood Town Hall which served as the seat of government for the village and housed the fire department and jail. The population had increased to just over 1000 by that time.

Annexation into the City of Cincinnati
Westwood First Presbyterian Church

Westwood First Presbyterian Church

A major change occurred in the village in 1896 when it was annexed into the City of Cincinnati. By then, the population was growing rapidly. That year also brought the end of passenger service from the Cincinnati & Westwood Railroad although it continued to carry freight until 1924.

Transportation continued to be an issue that impacted Westwood. Electric streetcars, which were part of the reason for the failure of the railroad, were shuttling people back and forth to the city by 1900. At that time, just over 2000 people called Westwood home. In 1908, the opening of a viaduct over the Mill Creek improved the chances that one could cross the valley without risking life and limb. This viaduct was replaced with a new one in 1932. By then Westwood was a bustling suburb. In 1940, the population had expanded to about 11,000 with a steady increase after that.

Much has changed in the 200 years since James Goudy built his log cabin. While walking down the tree lined streets today, one may find it difficult to envision the woods and meadows that greeted Mr. Goudy. Or the widely spaced farms and estates that followed. If you look carefully, you can still see remnants of old Westwood – old farmhouses amid newer homes, and berms from the old railroad, and grand old homes that have survived. Twenty-first century Westwood may look different but its location and green hills still appeal to the many people who call Westwood home.