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Riverfront Rebirth: How Newport, KY Experiences Waves of Growth

Newport reimagines the waterfront where the city was born.

By Livability on April 27, 2021

northern ky
Courtesy of the City of Newport

It all began in the 1990s when the City of Newport and neighborhood groups began working together to preserve the elegant homes in the East Row Historic District, where many wealthy business owners built their Victorian mansions more than a century ago. 

“It was a huge success,” says Larisa Sims, Newport’s assistant city manager. “The area saw a complete 360 turnaround, and now the home and property values there are much higher than they ever have been.”

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Courtesy of the City of Newport
Courtesy of the City of Newport

A few blocks away, the city’s waterfront is undergoing an impressive rebirth of its own with entertainment venues, shops and restaurants.

Riverfront Commons, an 11.5-mile walking and biking path that runs along the Ohio River, and the pedestrian Purple People Bridge connect residents to the Greater Cincinnati area, while giving them more ways to enjoy being outside. Newport on the Levee, a sprawling complex with brand-name stores, a cinema and eateries, features the Newport Aquarium, where guests can view sharks, octopuses and other ocean creatures. And the recently opened Bridgeview Box Park offers a mix of takeout fare, from baked goods to Asian street food.

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Courtesy of the City of Newport

Steps away is The World Peace Bell, billed as the largest free-swinging bell in the world.

Nearby, Pompilio’s, an Italian eatery where the toothpick scene in “Rain Man” was filmed, is a regional favorite.

The Newport Racing and Gaming casino recently opened on Monmouth Street.

Making its debut this year is Ovation, a mixed-use development on the west end of town. A couple blocks to the east, the Historic Downtown Business District features eclectic shops, restaurants, and small businesses.

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Courtesy of the City of Newport
Courtesy of the City of Newport

In contrast to the trendy residential units popping up along the river, the restored Newport History Museum at the Southgate Street School discusses history and historic preservation as it honors the students and educators who attended the only Black school in Campbell County. It is on the original site that was established after the Civil War to educate Newport’s Black children.

“The City of Newport has always been progressive when it comes to inclusion and diversity,” Sims says. “So, it’s really important for us to celebrate that diversity.”

Learn more at City of Newport.

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