Cincinnati Skywalk: The Folly of Government Writ Large

-By Warner Todd Huston

The folly of government planners is writ large in Cincinnati, Ohio. In the late 1960s the city fathers of The Queen City decided that the only way to revitalize its downtown businesses and to compete with the large shopping malls then just starting to spread across the nation was to create a “skywalk” system–a series of pedestrian bridges that loomed over the city streets connecting buildings one to the other. But, now the same city is saying getting rid of those same skywalks will revitalize the downtown area.

So, in one decade, city planners said that it was important to spend millions of tax dollars to create dozens of bridges across city streets because it was the only way to revitalize a declining city center, yet but a few decades later city planners reversed themselves saying that spending millions of tax dollars to dismantle that same bridge system is the only way to revitalize a declining city center.

Either way, the taxpayers are stuck with the bills.

A website called has a great little story of the history of the Cincinnati skyway system, but it is fascinating to see what city planners will waste tax money on to “save the city,” isn’t it?

Cincinnati is no stranger to total waste, either. In the 1920s the city spent millions on a subway system, even going so far as to begin constructing the tunnels needed for the project, only to give up without coming anywhere near completing even a single subway line.

The subway was being planned even before WWI but construction didn’t began until 1920. But by 1927 the whole project ground to a halt due to cost overruns, mismanagement, bad engineering–houses along the construction way crumbled and collapsed due to faulty engineering at the construction sites—and, naturally, political squabbling.

Everything just stopped and the city has been dealing with the fallout ever since.

The beleaguered Cincy subway system was finally paid off in 1966 to the tune of $13 million which was seven million more than initial estimates… and remember, even after 13 mil was wasted, the city had not laid even one inch of track and no subway system was ever realized.

Now we have the boondoggle of walkway construction and destruction to add to Cincy’s subway debacle. Cincinnati has had city planning at its best, hasn’t it?
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001