Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Queen City Discovery 10th Anniversary Special

This post was scheduled to publish on October 29, 2017 at 5:02 P.M. At that point, when this post is live, this website known as Queen City Discovery will be a decade old. It’s been an interesting ten years and as the anniversary approached, I debated on what I’d do to commemorate it or if I should at all.

- Construction on the Queen City Square/Great American Tower skyscraper as seen in the October 2010 article "Rise of an Icon."

Maybe I’d write some big, investigative article about something in Cincinnati? My notebook is filled with ideas.

Maybe I’d do a simple photography post? I always have a camera with me.

Maybe I’d not even acknowledge it, just carry on as normal and keep posting stories when I can. That’d be the easiest thing.

- A view above the ice at the Cincinnati Gardens from within "The Press Box That Never Was" in 2015.

In the end, I decided I should put together something and maybe do some cleanup work. So for the past few months leading up to this post, I’ve been working with html, digging up old pictures, and of course, putting off the actual formatting till the last few hours (though, to be fair, at least I’m not up till 4 a.m. like usual).

- The book filled apartment of Joe Wilcher in 2009. From one of my favorite stories over the past ten years.

I started writing this after a work day at my desk in a Downtown Cincinnati office building. I like what I do and where I work, but this isn’t where I thought I’d be ten years ago as I wrapped up the first QC/D post in an Ohio University dorm room. I was born in Cincinnati, lived in the suburbs most of my life, and truly discovered the city around 2006. While still in high school, I began photographing abandoned places, a hobby known as urban exploration. After I started accumulating a bunch of photographs that I’d show to friends via a cable that connected my first digital camera to television screens, my friend Ben thought I needed to display the photos someplace where I could add the whole story. He suggested starting a website.

- The abandoned Americana/LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park in Middletown, OH as seen in 2007. From the original QC/D article ten years ago.

So in 2007, now away from my home of Cincinnati and at college in Athens, OH, I launched Queen City Discovery. The first story was that of the former LeSourdsville Lake/Americana Amusement Park. I had been there as a kid and was mesmerized by the fact that this fully intact piece of physical and literal “Americana” sat closed. Through some contacts, myself and a few friends were able to photograph the property with permission (though, we had tried to find other ways of seeing the property before, only to be thwarted and having to run through the woods earlier). Those photographs and their accompanying text became the first article posted here and it’s still one of the most popular/heavily viewed. I was in a rut when I started this site, sharing a dorm room with two nice guys and one who was a total prick. It wasn't so much that I missed being home, I just wanted to explore a real city. I came to the realization that I wanted to be back where this groundswell of positive momentum was forming to revitalize Cincinnati, an effort strengthened by those who never stopped believing in the Queen City despite local and extra-local naysayers. Eventually, I transferred to Northern Kentucky University right across the river. I graduated a few years back and now live and work within the city. In all that time, I’ve put together a lot of content for this website, published two books, and done a lot of thinking. QC/D is a labor of love, an outlet, and something I enjoy putting together, but I’ve never quite been able to put a firm identity on it. The subject matter has shifted a lot over time, ebbing and flowing with what’s going on in my life, what’s interesting, where I’m at with photography, who I’m spending my time with, and so forth. In many ways, it’s a reflection. Not just in terms of introspective pieces written, but in what I’ve decided to cover or take an interest in. To me, it’s deeply personal, even if it’s not always outwardly so.

- Portrait of "The Wiz" from the Kings Waffle series, 2014.

I look back on some of the things I’ve written and cringe. I look back on others and feel proud. There’s places I can’t believe I’ve had the chance to see and there’s times I look at the date on an old article and think: “holy shit, this was that long ago?” Sometimes it feels bad. There’s times where my old writing sparks things, reminders, something about the way I felt when I wrote it. I wonder if anything’s changed? Other things remind me of what to be grateful for, what to enjoy now, of how that person of ten years ago would be envious of where I’m at and what I’m doing today.

On October 29, 2007, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine some of the places, people, and stories I’ve been able to visit, meet, and share. Nor would I believe that some of those stories would gain International exposure. Frankly, I didn't know back then if anyone would even read the words posted on this site or skim through the images.

- Photos from the top ten most popular articles since 2010.

Google’s Blogger platform only has stats going back to May 2010, but to give you an idea, here’s how QC/D has been viewed over the years: over 2,300,000 times and on every continent except Antartica. 

The most popular articles have been:

  1. The Ghost Ship
  2. Fun Spot (Former) Amusement Park and Zoo
  3. Indianapolis' Thunder Island
  4. Cincinnati's Subway
  5. Reader Submission: Aerial View of Kings Island Construction
  6. The Concourse Part 1 - Island in a Stream of Runways
  7. [Fading Advertisements] Forgotten Frisch's
  8. Last Guests of the Kings Island Resort
  9. The Downsizing and Dying of CVG
  10. LeSourdsville Lake/Americana Revisted

I have to say, I’m a little surprised that two stories from Indiana, a story about a Frisch’s Big Boy sign that's not even a month old, and aerial photos of Kings Island (that were generously contributed and I didn't make) even cracked the top ten, let alone the top five. No surprise on The Ghost Ship, though, that story has been shared so much over the internet and poached by so many click bait websites that it takes the viewership by a massive margin.

- Photos from some of my personal favorite stories over the past ten years.

Over these past ten years, there’s been 501 posts made (502 once this one goes live). Some of my personal favorites that aren't in the top ten have been:

While I had been encouraged to start a site, I had no idea where to start or how to develop it. My experience had been limited to poorly thought out GeoCities pages promoting my high school era rock band’s local shows. A site now gone,, served up some inspiration. I had fallen in love with their coverage of exploring and documenting old Tiger Stadium in its abandoned state just before it met the wrecking ball. Like WOD, I decided to use Google’s Blogger platform and its standard layouts. In 2007, Wordpress was hardly used and Blogger was the “gold standard.” Ten years later, Blogger is absolute garbage and Wordpress has become a progressive company now lauded. Here’s how QC/D has looked over the years:

- 2007 to 2010.

- 2011.

- 2014.

- 2016.

- Current. As of Oct. 29, 2017.

Going forward, my eventual goal is to (hopefully) convert this site to Wordpress, but the methods on that are tricky. I'd also like to develop a proper mobile layout (more and more people view QC/D on their phones as opposed desktops) and get rid of the damn Facebook "like" buttons at the top of each post. Also, in ten years, I've never quite figured out how to link the domain names ( and properly with individual pages. If you've got some advice or feedback, I'm all ears.

In the meantime, I’ve tried to do some ongoing maintenance:

  • I’ve deleted all the spam/advertisement comments. 
  • I tried to clean up the formatting on older articles from when the site looked very different. 
  • I’ve also added updates here and there at the bottom of old stories where it's warranted. 

I haven’t always been the best at replying to comments after an article was published in the past, but I’ve got a much better way to track them now. So if you’ve got an update on a story or something cool to share: go wild, post away. I truly appreciate keeping the stories going and hearing your thoughts, especially your memories, of something covered here.

- Examples of QC/D's ongoing series.

While urban exploration has often been the hallmark of QC/D (and the theme of some of the most popular articles), stories about many other things have found their way on here over the years. I reorganized everything into different types of ongoing series:

  • Frames - Typically quick photo series that don’t always reflect larger stories.
  • Road Trips and Travel - Stories made on the road traveling predominately via my car with the occasional train and airplane thrown in there.
  • Articles - Larger stories about places I’ve visited, people I’ve met, and anything else as seen in Cincinnati, across the Midwest, and elsewhere.
  • Views of Cincinnati - This started as some project when I was feeling ambitious in college, but never really saw a conclusion. It’s a collection of unique and stereotypical views of the city skyline. Someday, I want to turn these images into postcards.
  • Fading Advertisements - In 2015 I was asked to write a book about these things and did. I enjoyed them, so I keep documenting them everywhere I go.
  • Suburbia Lost - I’ve photographed a lot of abandoned buildings in urban cores for a long time, but I’ve spent a lot of my life in suburbia. There’s abandonment out there too and it varies wildly.
  • Kings Waffle - I spent years hanging out at a local diner. I still go there, although admittedly not as much as I used to. Here’s the stories of the people I’ve met there with more to come eventually.
  • From the Archives - I don’t always get around to posting certain stories, these are old ones I’ve dug up.
  • QC/D Monthly - I shoot a lot of photos. These are the “one offs” I make over the course of each month that don’t fit into larger stories.

And of course…

  • Urban Exploration - There’s something I’ve just always loved about exploring and photographing abandoned places under many different circumstances. They’re an interesting way to connect with history and envision the past, while learning how to view the present and the future.

- My friend and former coworker, Dave, inspecting the lift hill of the now demolished Son of Beast roller coaster at Kings Island in 2008. Hands down, one of my favorite photographs made in the last decade.

I’ve thought a lot about what I want to do with this site going forward, what I want to cover, and what I want to share. Ultimately, I need to stop imposing self-prescribed deadlines on myself. QC/D is probably going to become a lot more personal. Sometimes, I just want so shoot photos. Other times, I really want to just sit down with a few cold beers and write about a myriad of things, not all of them related to history, not all of them related to Cincinnati. Despite what the name might imply, not everything is going to be about the Queen City from here on out.

- Gilbert Ave. "gateway" at night in Cincinnati. Photograph made in 2011.

I’ve thought a lot of about Cincinnati, especially over the past two years. I love this place and I still believe in this place, but with a lot of good can come some bad. I don’t know if I’ll always be here, but I intend for this website to exist whether I’m writing stories and shooting photos in the shadow of Fountain Square or in some far flung place.

- The Coney Island Cyclone in New York City, 2014

So that’s what I’m going to do and I can’t express how much it means when people take the time to not just skim, but read. It means the world, and in return, I’ve tried to give the work of others proper time and attention.

To those of you who have kept up with this site, viewed the photos, and taken the time to read the words over the past decade (or whenever you started viewing): thank you. Thanks for letting me share something with you and for giving it your attention. I hope you gleaned something, anything, from it.

I’ve got a lot more to do, say, dig up, research, and put together.

Thanks for ten years and thanks to all those who have helped me in many ways over those ten years.

In loving memory of Doug Apple.


  1. Awesome Ronny, Congrats on 10 years, this blogging game isn't easy, but I hope you can keep it going another 10!!

    1. And you as well, Bob! Love your work and love you. Thanks for all of the support over the years! Time to get started on some cool stuff...

    2. Congrats on a job well done! Thank you for showing us the "hidden Cincinnati" and thank you personally for supporting my project! I look forward to even more awesome things to come!

    3. Thanks, Carol! I appreciate all the support and look forward to seeing even more cool stuff from you in the future!

  2. QCD has been been one of my favorite sites since seeing the Americana story way back when. You’ve inspired me to go out and check out a lot of the places you photograph and write about. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Greg! Hope you've seen some good stuff out there. Bless you and the denim recruits.

  3. Congratulations on 10 years, Ronny. You are a constant inspiration and your photography is some of the best, most diverse, honest representations of the city I've seen.

    1. Thanks so much Phil, you're a constant inspiration to me as well! Love the work that you do.

  4. Congratulations on 10 years. Your blog helped me get more interested in my adopted home. Thanks to your blog I got a chance to visit the subway before they stopped doing tours and became a member of DI.

    Thanks for your labor of love

    1. Thank you for reading and being an awesome friend!

  5. Truly remarkable, Ronny.
    Nick Rechtin

    1. Thanks Nick! Appreciate you reading and appreciate the support!

  6. Thank you for all the great stories over the years and congrats. I've so enjoyed reading and will continue to do so. I've lived in Fairfield and now in Greenhills during the years you've been writing, and while I've enjoyed the stories close to home, I've loved being able to explore other places as well. Thanks again!

  7. Congratulations! Thanks for the many years of stories! Love your photography and the round-up in this post!