Queen City's 2016 Saloon Tour Series Tickets On Sale Now!!
Why Choose Our Tours
The Saloon Tour Series offered by Queen City History and Education enter places that you will not see and tell stories that you will not hear on any other tour in town. We also work in partnership with nothing but the best Cincinnati saloons.
More importantly, our tours have been designed by and most tours are given by Michael Morgan, a founding father of heritage tourism in Cincinnati, voted “Best Local Author” by CityBeat readers in 2011 and named one of “Cincinnati’s Most Interesting People” by Cincy Magazine in 2013. If you are going to entrust your time to a tour guide, go with the one that other tours cite as a primary source of their information.
Our goal is not to be the biggest. It is to be the best. We are proud to have been named the “Best Alternative Guided Cincinnati History Tour” by CityBeat in 2016 and are honored to be called “Cincinnati’s best underground underground tours.” To ensure a quality tour experience, space on our tours is limited, so advanced registration is highly recommended.
Other details: All tours are rain or shine. Due to restrictions on tour space, all ticket sales are final. Tours are designed to last approximately 90 minutes. These are walking tours, and entering the Gerke brewery cellars involves approximately two flights of underground steps. While we are happy to make reasonable accommodations for all people, tours are not recommended for very young children or people for whom walking is difficult.
Main Street Over-the-Rhine Tour
Main Street Over-the-Rhine has a long and interesting history
starting with its intersection of the Miami & Erie Canal, a mid-nineteenth-century
German population boom, and its transformation into an elegant Italianate
commercial corridor. Today, Main Street Over-the-Rhine features
indie shops, galleries, cafes, bars, yoga studios, and businesses housed
in beautiful historic buildings; a great place to walk, shop, and eat.
Arnold's Brothels, Bootleggers and Booze Tour
Arnold’s Brothels, Bootleggers and Booze Tour begins at the most logical place to start it – Arnold’s, Cincinnati’s oldest continuously operating saloon. Built in 1838 as a brothel, 210 E. 8 th became Simon Arnold’s Saloon in 1861 and has been serving libations to Cincinnatians ever since, including straight through Prohibition. Our tour guests get the inside scoop on Arnold’s from the beginning to its more recent but equally colorful history. The tour then takes a walking route that explores the days when Cincinnati’s dozens of breweries and distilleries and almost 2,000 saloons made it notorious for inebriation and mayhem. Guests then enter a side-alley entrance into subterranean cellars that were part of the Gerke Brewery complex. Renowned for its corruption, vice and crime, one of Cincinnati’s lowest moments is the Courthouse riot of 1884. Guests hear about the history of the riot, how dozens of people came to be slain in the surrounding streets, then return to Arnold’s – where cold beverages and great food always await at the place that Men’s Health Magazine has voted one of the “Top 50 Bars in America,” and CityBeat readers have declared the “Best Outdoor Dining” year after year. Tours start at Arnold’s, 210 E. 8 th St, every Saturday at 3PM. Tours last approximately 90 minutes. Ticket price is $20. (A portion of proceeds goes to support the non-profit Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. and the preservation of our brewing history.)
Washington Platform’s Over-the-Rhine Tour
Tour starts at Washington Platform, opened as a beer hall and saloon in 1875 on the south bank of “the Rhine,” the canal that separated the original, Anglo Cincinnati from its “German Quarter.” In the 1800’s, the area north of Washington Platform was, per capita, the most German neighborhood in America. The residents of this enclave brought a healthy thirst with them from their Germanic homelands, supporting the operation of almost 300 neighborhood saloons. All of that changed – the neighborhood’s identity, social life, and economy – with the double-blow of WWI and Prohibition. Guests begin the tour with the insider’s history of Washington Platform, travel “over the Rhine” and take a vivid trip through OTR’s immigrant origins, ethnic conflicts, industrial triumphs, and notorious intoxication. The tour features some of Cincinnati’s most spectacular and iconic architecture, and ends with a trip into the lagering cellars of the Gerke Brewery as well as the cellars two stories below Washington Platform. Tours start at 6:30 every Thursday evening at Washington Platform and last approximately 90 minutes. Ticket price is $20.
In 2006, I sat at the bar of the Dunlap Cafe drinking Hudies and mapping out a route for the first Prohibition Resistance Tour. Although ’06 is not that long ago, Over-the-Rhine was a different world back then. It still had the highest crime rate of any neighborhood in the city – ranking among the worst in the United States, actually. That made the tours that I was planning on behalf of the Brewery District a pretty radical plan.
The Brewery District was a group of people who met once a month to drink beer and spew delusional gibberish about how Over-the-Rhine could become the city’s most celebrated neighborhood; and we were about to give tours of crumbling old buildings that used to be breweries. We were planning this foray into the uncharted waters of OTR tourism for two reasons. First, I was gambling every meager penny that the organization had on the untested theory that people would pay to take tours of Over-the-Rhine. Secondly, we wanted to share our vision for the Brewery District with the world outside of our grass-roots urban redevelopment drinking club.
Since then, Over-the-Rhine has changed dramatically. The Brewery District CURC has grown into a much more organized non-profit with a serious mission, and its early pioneers no longer look so delusional. But I the purpose of the Brewery District’s Prohibition Resistance Tours – now plural – remains the same: to share Cincinnati’s brewing heritage with the world, and to raise money for the important work of the organization. I hope that your introduction to Cincinnati heritage tourism starts with something in the Queen City History Saloon Tour offerings (because I have to eat), but I also hope that it continues with one of the seasonal or weekly tours offered by the Brewery District CURC – including during Bockfest and Oktoberfest weekends.
-Michael D. Morgan
Private Tours: Queen City History & Education Ltd. will give private or custom tours. To discuss possibilities and terms, use our Contact page to contact Michael Morgan.