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.
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
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. It 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.