Friendship Plaza

Where I live is a pretty shitty neighborhood. It’s not the worst, but it’s not the best either. Recently there was a homicide by gun at a local pizza place just down the road from my house. My wife was concerned but I wasn’t. I don’t eat there. I’m sorry for the guy’s death and his friends and family’s loss, but his pizza sucked. The place that was there before him had excellent pizza. Not sure why they closed and his place was successful, but anyway, I digress.

This entire neighborhood sucks. Hartwell, where I live, is probably the nicest of the shitty areas around here, but there’s one neighborhood just to the north of us called Wyoming that is nice. It’s actually richy-rich nice, filled with uppity white people who probably all have maids and “help”, who’s yards are all perfectly groomed and who’s houses are more expensive than entire streets in my neighborhood. And poor Wyoming, they’re surrounded by shit neighborhoods on all sides. You can actually tell when you enter and leave Wyoming just based on the road. It’s taken care of in Wyoming and nice, but once it turns to shit with potholes and dead bodies littering the gutters, you know you’ve left the area.

The funny thing about this, as far as Hartwell is concerned, is on Yelp, the popular “check in and review” website where you can let others know you’re at a business while you’re at that business, says that all of the businesses on Vine Street (the main road that goes through Hartwell and Wyoming) on the Hartwell side, are in Wyoming. I’ve written them to tell them but they haven’t changed a thing. I guess nobody would actually go to those businesses if they knew they were actually in Hartwell and not Wyoming.

The pizza place where the guy was killed is Cosmic Pizza, in case you didn’t click the link that would have told you that. Just for shits and giggles I looked them up on Yelp and sure enough…

Proof. Yelp is stupid.

Proof. Yelp is stupid.

There’s even a family doctor’s office in Hartwell called “Wyoming Family Practice” because once again, nobody would trust any doctor working in Hartwell. But Wyoming? Where do I sign up?

Yeah, everyone around here wants to be associated with Wyoming because it’s so fucking nice, it’s just that nobody around here can afford to live there other than the doctors and lawyers and billionaires that actually do live there.

Now, the shittiest neighborhood bordering Wyoming would have to be Lockland. Lockland is a special town, filled with crack heads and deadbeats. Just driving through Lockland will get you thrown in jail for a year, if you actually ran into a cop while driving through there. Not even they like to drive through there.

Lockland’s high school is so dangerous their school paper has an obituary column.

There’s one road, Wyoming Avenue, that goes from Vine Street in Wyoming (it’s actually called Springfield Pike in Wyoming) to and through Lockland. For the sake of this piece I’m going to go the opposite way, from Lockland into Wyoming, A to B on the map below. I just made the trip at midnight tonight because I don’t fear for my life as long as I don’t get stopped at a red light. This is what you see. You can actually do a street view tour on Google Maps and see this shit, and I recommend it. Keep in mind the images you’ll see on Google Maps were taken a few years ago. It looks even worse now.

Let the journey begin.

Let the journey begin.

Starting at the intersection of Wyoming and Wayne Avenues, you’ll notice two tax prep services across from one another on two of the four corners. On the other two corners are auto mechanics. Heading towards Wyoming you’ll see businesses on either side, as this is a business district. The road is cracked and sucks, just like the sidewalks. There are a few trees on the sidewalks, like there might be for ambiance or whatever, but they are typically dead or dying and are very rarely taken care of, and there are weeds growing up through the cracks on the sidewalks. It’s dark and bleak, even during the day time. Most of the businesses are closed and have been for a long time, so the buildings sit empty and vandalized.

Of the businesses that are open and running, you have an assortment of pawn shops, dollar stores, liquor stores, African American groceries, Mexican groceries and a few pubs, and they’ve also been vandalized with graffiti and such. Each of these businesses has bars on the windows which has only saved a few of the windows from being smashed out.


At the end of Lockland’s stretch is a gas station which is still boarded up and hasn’t been open for a very long time. Nobody is interested in buying it and reopening it. Remember this gas station.

You can see a sign on the bottom right that says there's a $100 fine for loud noise. Funny, because cops don't show their faces in this neighborhood.

You can see a sign on the bottom left that says there’s a $100 fine for loud noise. Funny, because cops don’t show their faces in this neighborhood.

Now, when you get here on your trip you’ll see something cool. You’ll see a railroad track that is still in operation (because Cincinnati is full of fucking trains) and it perfectly splits Lockland from Wyoming.

On the other side of the tracks, in Wyoming, you’ll see a completely different picture. The road is nicely paved and pretty. The sidewalks are cobblestone, with no weeds. Instead there are nice trees coming up through them that are always maintained, so the setting is that of beauty and growth.

Notice the nice sign welcoming you. Pretty flowers and cobblestone under it.

Notice the nice sign welcoming you. Pretty flowers and cobblestone under it.

The stores littering both sides of the road are all in operation and are all nice, high end shops. There are no bars in the windows here, nor is there graffiti or any “issues.” There’s a bridal shop and a butcher shop and other places. At night these businesses even leave their lights on, so when you drive through you can see what they are and what they offer, and it generally looks like a nice place to be.


A butcher shop and cobblestone sidewalks.

A pastry shop that is still in business. Those only thrive in nice areas.

A pastry shop that is still in business. Those only thrive in nice areas.

Once you pass through that tiny little business district you see some of the nicer homes in Wyoming, giant old houses that have been maintained and kept up for ages, with big beautiful lawns. It truly looks like a wonderful place to raise your family (if you can afford it). At the end of the road just before Vine Street is a big Wyoming school and a library. They obviously don’t care that just a half mile down the road there is one of the worst neighborhoods around.

Where is this magical place? Wyoming, OH.

Where is this magical place? Wyoming, OH.

It’s hysterical. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes I would never believe a place like this existed. The train tracks literally keep the crap from one side out of the niceness of the other side, and vice versa. The riff raff stay on their side and the yuppies stay on their side. It’s a perfect match. It’s almost like there’s an invisible dome there separating the two.

It’s such a huge difference from one side of the tracks to the other that even the trains that go down that track are graffiti’d on one side and are shiny and new on the other. Seriously. I remember my very first time on this road going from Lockland to Wyoming. I was just a kid and even I was shocked when we crossed the tracks into Wyoming. Literally shocked. I turned around in my seat and looked back at Lockland and thought to myself “fucking seriously?” It’s a sight to behold.

Well, tonight I noticed something I had never noticed before. Ever. Remember that gas station I told you to remember? Well across the street from it (where another gas station used to be and then a small time construction business) is now a park. It’s a very tiny park and it only takes up the space that the tiny gas station did, but it’s a park.



There are a few bushes that are well maintained, some benches for people to sit on, and a fucking fountain. It wasn’t running even with it being the middle of June, but still, there was a fountain. There was no graffiti or trash anywhere in this little park. It was the nicest thing in Lockland, other than the “You are now leaving Lockland” signs. It looked as if it belonged in Wyoming.

And then I saw the sign. “Lockland and Wyoming Friendship Plaza” is what it said, and I was shocked. I almost wrecked my car when I saw it. For one, nobody was in the park, even at midnight. I mean, it IS in Lockland and there are crack heads in Lockland. And crack heads love parks at midnight. Especially when there are benches and fountains and bushes.

Click for a bigger picture, if you need to, for some odd reason.

Click for a bigger picture, if you need to, for some odd reason.

I had my wife snap the above picture while we drove by this morning. I noticed the fountain was on, so at least that’s working. I stopped traffic so that we could take this. And by “stopped traffic” I mean that we were the only ones there going in either direction.

But the shocker of it all was that it was a “friendship plaza” specifically for “Lockland and Wyoming.” The amazing thing about that is, nobody who lives in Wyoming wants to go to Lockland, or even has any reason to go to Lockland. There’s literally nothing in Lockland that anybody in Wyoming would need. Except maybe drugs, because let’s face it, even rich white people do drugs.

And there’s no reason for anybody in Lockland to go to Wyoming. None. Not even just to drive through it. Not even to fucking rob one of those nice ass stores, because that shit doesn’t happen. Seriously, the people of each place stay the fuck out of the other place. Except for the maids and “help” of those rich fucks in Wyoming who most assuredly shop in the Mexican groceries in Lockland, but other than that, there is no reason for anybody to cross those tracks.

So that Friendship Plaza seems not only out of place because there’s absolutely no place for it, but completely unnecessary. Maybe between Hartwell and Wyoming, we don’t hate each other. I could see the park being used then. But Wyoming and Lockland have no fucking clue the other exists. If you’re ever in Cincinnati, I beg of you to plan a visit to this railroad spot just to witness this shit for yourself. It’s absolutely amazing. I don’t know what force there is keeping it this way, but if anybody can figure it out I’m sure that power could be used elsewhere in the world with great results.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like driving through Lockland. In another area they have a place where big warehouses and factories used to be and some of those old giant buildings are still there and they are quite awesome to look at. Some have recently been tore down, so I don’t know what’s going in there, if anything. There are also some nicer spots to dine and some cool bars and pubs that look like they’re thriving. All of Lockland isn’t a shit hole, just this stretch of road I’ve pointed out. And I only pointed it out because of the vast difference from one side of the tracks to the other. It really is an incredible spot.

Oh, and one last thing to share about that area. If you happen to travel south on Wayne a mile or two from Wyoming Avenue you come into an area just on the border of Hartwell where registered sex offenders live. There is literally an apartment complex where they all seem to go to after they’ve registered as sex offenders. This is also the homicide capital of the area. I tend to stay away from that part of town. I once got a letter in the mail telling me a registered sex offender had moved into my area and told me to go to a website to see where. I went to the website and found that sex offender had moved to a street behind my house. I then discovered there was one living in the first house on my street. And then I discovered there were billions of them living right around that same little area on Wayne. Awesome. Driving through there is like going to that Indian village Indiana Jones visits in “Temple of Doom”… no kids anywhere.

7 responses to “Friendship Plaza

  1. Milwaukee was like that. Areas severely segregated according to race and poverty level. The “Good block, Bad block” syndrome, I guess you could call it, except the areas were usually much more than just a block. Here where I am now has it too, but not to that extent. They seem to have tried to “hide” the lower class levels of society here by shoving things either on the outskirts of town, or burying them away down often dead end roads with lots of trees so the people outside of it cant get a clear view unless they drive through.

    Incidentally, I live in the “shitty” trailer park here in town laughingly called The Eastside Estates. I actually laughed out loud when I first saw the sign. It was a sad sad reminder of how pretentious rich folk living in the country constantly try to polish shit, just for the sake of “appearances.”

  2. I could write a freakin tome about neighborhoods, because I could talk about it all day. I could go on and on about the names, like Eastside Estates and whatnot, about the juxtaposition of our neighborhoods, about how unfair it is that the nicest cheapest houses in the city are being cut up and rented as apartments, in what is now the ghetto, but were once the large working-class foursquares my father’s family grew up in in the 50’s.
    I could write a novel on the premise that some of us lived in the pretty neighborhoods, surrounded by wealth that couldn’t be detected by the outside of a home, or the presence of a shiny new car, or filtered out by impeccable yard work, but rather, it seemed to be dictated by how often and to where you traveled. For instance, neither my parents, nor myself had the money to spend Christmas skiing in Aspen with others in our neighborhood.
    When I was young, my best friend’s family (subsequently my in-laws) lived in “the L” whereas I lived in Ivy Hills.
    I can tell you where to buy drugs in Ivy Hills, but I don’t know where to go in “the L” — but I will say, there were plenty of kids from “the L” in the Ivy Hills drug lot.
    Now, as an adult, I think “the L” is an excellent choice for people like us. It is virtually unchanged, STILL the working-class neighborhood it was circa 1950.

    Invisible lines are still lines.
    Nice girls like me, haha, grew up knowing you don’t cross 38th Street after dark. Invisible lines, with very visible crimes.
    Damn, you inspired me today. 🙂

    • I’m glad I inspired you, and yes, if you know a neighborhood a virtual book could be written about it. And for some odd reason I always enjoy reading about them. I agree though, some neighborhoods change while others stay the same for ages. It’s crazy how that happens.

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