There are so many facets to Covington, Kentucky. In this diverse and vibrant city, you’ll find many local shops and small family-owned stores, but you’ll also see high-tech businesses and fine restaurants. It’s a city that enjoys art not only via traditional museum settings, but also along a building’s facade or even in the street. You’ll find many different styles of housing in Covington – from modest, starter-priced homes to historic, grand mansions to modern-style condominiums with amazing views. This highly walkable city has something for everyone. Welcome to Covington!
History of Covington
Covington was founded in 1815 when 150 acres of land was purchased west of the Licking River where it met the Ohio River. The city grew and prospered during the 1800s.
In the early 1900s, Covington was the financial center of Northern Kentucky and many banks such as First National Bank, German National Bank, Covington Savings Bank & Trust, Citizens National Bank, etc… were built during that time. The city also grew with manufacturing businesses such as the Covington Railway Company headquarters, Kentucky Times-Star and Stewart Iron Work Company (which constructed “non-sawable” bars for Alcatraz Prison.) The Bavarian Brewery was a large employer until Prohibition. During this prosperous time, many of Covington’s beautiful churches including St. Mary’s Basilica, were constructed. During this time period, the city acquired Goebel and Devou Parks.
Alas, the good times came to an end and the city suffered from declines during the Great Depression as well as later in the late 1950s when many resident (followed by businesses) left Covington for the suburbs.
But, Covington has rebounded. In 2015, the city enjoyed its bicentennial. “COV200” was a year-long celebration that honored its legacy and acknowledged the excitement of its future. The city is experiencing a resurgence as Northern Kentucky’s most populated city with over 43,000 residents. Its renaissance includes housing, high-tech companies, creative firms as well as the cultural arts. The community is focused on improving housing and beautifying its public spaces. It has also focused on the creation of jobs – with such success that the city has been named as “One to Watch” by Main Street America. It was on the list of the 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2013 by the American Planning Association. In 2017 the city was honored (as one of three U.S. cities) with the Great American Main Street Award. The city of Covington is definitely a comeback success story.
- Botany Hills
- Central Business District
- City Heights
- Historic West 15 Street
- Jacob Price
- Kenton Hills
- Kurhs Lane
- Latonia Terrace
- Levassor Park
- Licking Riverside
- Monte Casino
- Old Town/Mutter Gottes
- Peaselburg (Peasel is German for goose droppings. There were many goose farms here in the early days!)
- Ritte’s East Latonia
- Seminary Square
- South Covington
- Wallace Woods (Residents enjoy an annual pie and cake auction.)
- West Covington (Formerly known as Economy or Botany Hills and home to the spaceship house.)
- West Latonia
- Westside (See the mosaic gateway sign in this neighborhood.)
Together, many of these neighborhoods come together with the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington.
Homes in Covington
There are many options when it comes to living in Covington. Old mansion? Check. (Covington has the second highest number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places in Kentucky.) New condominium with a city view? Check. From old row homes to newly built homes and condos, there are all types of homes available in all price ranges.
The Ascent condominium building was completed in 2008 and designed by Daniel Libeskind (the award-winning architect named as the master plan architect of the reconstructed World Trade Building in New York.)
Covington Neighborhood Highlights
Licking/Riverside Named One of the Nation’s Best Neighborhoods
Licking/Riverside was named on the top 10 best neighborhoods in the U.S. in 2013 by the American Planning Association. This historic area of Covington has an active civic association that works diligently to maintain and preserve the beauty and history of the area. Watch a new story about this.
When strolling through the Licking/Riverside neighborhood, you’ll enjoy seeing stately Victorian homes, river vistas as well as several of Covington’s commissioned bronze statues.
Covington’s MainStrasse is a nod to its German beginnings. In this European-style village, over 15 local restaurants are found. Enjoy a German meal at Wertheim’s Restaurant or the Strauss Haus. You’ll also find New Orleans-style cuisine at Dee Felice Cafe along with a live jazz band playing tunes.
See a list here of more MainStrasse restaurants. A MainStrasse Village Food Tour is available with tastes from many of its restaurants. While walking this tour, you’ll hear interesting stories about life in Covington during the 19th century.
Charming shops are found along the street ways of the village. Many people enjoy strolling and peering into windows. (Here is a map to all of the local businesses.)
The Goose Girl fountain is located in the center of MainStrasse and was created in 1980. Former Covington farmers raised geese and this fountain represents that time period.
At the west end of MainStrasse is the Carroll Chimes Bell Tower that was built in 1979 and named in honor of the governor at that time, Julian Carroll.
MainStrasse annual events include:
- World’s Longest Yard Sale – This sale happens every August in the village.
- MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest – This German festival is not to be missed.
- Annual Northern Kentucky Wine Festival – This event features Kentucky wineries.
- MainStrasse Village Classic Car Show – Enjoy viewing automobiles along the tree-lined streets in the village and in Goebel Park.
- Oak, Toast & Two Aging Barrels – A bourbon festival for all whiskey lovers.
- MainStrasse Dog PawRade – Dogs dressed for Halloween parade along the 6th Street Promenade.
- The Original Goettafest – Eat all-things goetta while enjoying music and entertainment.
Latonia was annexed as part of Covington in 1909. It is best known for its Latonia Race Track which was once regarded among the top U.S. sites for racing. The track closed in 1939 due to the Depression and the racing site is now the Latonia Shopping Center. (In 1959 Latonia Race Course opened in Florence, Kentucky. It is now called Turfway Park.)
Historic Austinburg is located near the Licking River between 16th Street to 20th Street and was settled by primarily German immigrants. The Austinburg Neighborhood Park is located near the city’s flood wall and includes a picnic area, playground, ball field and basketball court.
Bridal Shops – Madison Avenue
A stroll along Madison Avenue and one is in the “bridal” district that includes a Wedding Mall, reception venue and bridal shops. You cannot help but stop at Donna Salyer’s Fabulous Bridal store or Affordable Wedding Creations.
The Madison Event Center is located on Madison Avenue and 7th Street and has been the venue for many a special occasion including wedding celebrations. This former F.W. Woolworth building has been converted into an event center with four ballrooms. The Madison South building (is the the former Tillman’s Furniture building) has additional ballroom space as well as three wedding chapels.
Covington has plenty of green spaces for residents to enjoy. Whether the expansive Devou Park with its panoramic views of the Ohio River or one of the newer parklets found along Covington’s city streets, there is a park nearby. Here is a highlight of a few of them:
Devou Park is the green gem of Covington with over 700 acres. This park has an 18-hole golf course, several playgrounds and picnic areas as well as eight miles of biking trails, a fishing lake, amphitheater and paved nature trails.
Devou Park offers spectacular views of downtown Cincinnati and the Ohio River. The park was formerly the family farm of William and Sarah Devou. Their children donated the estate to Covington in 1910. Devou Park is also home to the Drees Pavilion event center, Behringer-Crawford Museum and the Northern Kentucky Children’s Home.
Pioneer Park is located on Madison Pike off of KY 17. This 43-acre park is the site of the Francisco Cordero Baseball Field. The park also features picnic shelter houses, playgrounds, walking/biking trails, baseball and soccer fields, basketball and volleyball courts as well as the Kenton Paw Park for dogs.
Doe Run Lake Park
This 183-acre park has a 30-acre lake as well as hiking trails and picnic areas. Enjoy boating, fishing and hiking.
George Rogers Clark Park
The park is located in the historic Licking Riverside neighborhood along the Ohio River. Take in views of the Cincinnati skyline and watch boats glide on the river while taking a stroll.
There are five parklets are located in Covington along and in parking spaces. These mini parks will bring a smile and place to rest while enjoying the city. Read more about the parklets here.
Licking River Greenway
The Licking River Greenway and Trails is an ongoing project to build 12-14 miles of trails from the Licking River corridor through Covington, Taylor Mill, Wilder and Newport. The trail currently has connections at the corner of Levassor and Eastern Avenue that lead either north to Randolph Park to south to 47th and Decoursey Park. While walking the trails, one can enjoy the the 17 murals that honors the Licking River.
Covington is known for its art and that includes its outdoor murals.
In 2015, the city commissioned a Faile mural for two adjacent buildings near Sixth Street and Madison Avenue. Read more about these murals.
This ArtWorks mural is called “The Divine Proportions of All Things” and is located at 714 Washington Avenue in Covington.
Roebling Flood Wall Murals
The Roebling Murals (located at Covington’s riverfront) depict the history of the city from 800bc present day. The murals are the work of Robert Dafford. Read more about these murals here and here.
There are seven bronze statues of historical figures along Riverside Drive overlooking the Ohio River.
The museum was established in 1950 showing off the collections of world-traveler William Behringer.
Later collections of paleo bones from Big Bone Springs were added. Today one finds displays of natural history, archeology, paleontology, rivers and steamboats, folk art, frontier life and more. The museum is located in Devou Park.\
Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center
This organization offers all types of arts programs from drawing, photography, dance or yoga for children and adults.
The Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati
This museum is an outside experience and is located in the Latonia neighborhood of Covington. See passenger trains, baggage cars, pullman sleepers and more. Follow this museum on Facebook.
The Carnegie is a multi-discplinary arts venue that houses The Carnegie Galleries, Eva G. Farris Education Center and the Otto M. Budig Theatre.
The building was first constructed as a Carnegie Library and is now part of the Register of Historic Places. Enjoy live performances and rotating art exhibits throughout the year.
There are several local galleries to enjoy in Covington in the “Covington Arts District”. Head on to Greenup, West 34th, Main, Pike and Scott Streets. Covington Arts (formerly the Artisan Enterprise Center) is located at 2 West Pike Street. The Frank Duveneck Arts & Cultural Center is located at 1232 Greenup Street.
Other Points of Interest in Covington
Daniel Carter Beard Boyhood Home
The Daniel Carter Beard Boyhood Home is a National Historic Landmark and is located in the Riverside Drive Historic area of Covington. The home was built in 1821 and is one of the two oldest buildings in Kenton County. Daniel Carter Beard was the founder of the Boy Scouts of America. As a boy he idolized Daniel Boone and he and his friends called themselves Boone Scouts. (This home is a private residence.)
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
This beautiful basilica was inspired by the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Its interior is modeled after St. Denis in France and features ribbed vaults, vaulted arches as well as groin vaults.
It is said that the north transept window is the the world’s largest handmade church stained glass window. This church boasts murals by Covington native, Frank Duveneck. The cathedral is on the National Register of Historic Places and is said to be one the most beautiful churches in the world. When viewing the facade of the building, be sure to enjoy its 26 gargoyles.
Northern Kentucky Convention Center
The convention center is located along the banks of the Ohio River near the historic Suspension Bridge and is connected to the Marriott at RiverCenter hotel. Many events are held at this facility including an annual Winterfair featuring talented crafts-people’s work and Cincy Comicon – a convention for comic-book lovers.
Enjoy live concerts at the Madison Theater. Built in 1912 and first called The Lyric, this building was the site for vaudeville acts for $.05 a show. In the 1920s, motion picture shows took over for entertainment with a $.30 admission ticket. Now, the theater is home to live rock performers.
A bronze Abraham Lincoln statue stands in front of the Kenton County Library. The statue reads, “I shall prepare myself. Someday my chance will come.”
Covington was home to several breweries during the 1800s: Covington Lager Beer Brewery, Philipp Jung Brewery Company, The John Brenner Brewing Company, Heidelberg Brewery, The Covington Brewery as well as the iconic Bavarian Brewing Company (that was located on Pike Street and later expanded onto 12th Street).
At one point, this latter brewery battled it out with Anheuser-Bush over the name Bush Bavarian Beer. The local company won to protect its name rights. The Bavarian Brewing Company closed in 1966 and the property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 when it was rehabilitated. The building has operated as Party Source and Jillian’s nightclub. Read more about historic Covington breweries here.
Today, enjoy a local brew while in Covington at the Braxton Brewing Company.
Red Bikes and Trolleys
Covington residents enjoy the Southbank Shuttle Trolley that travels from Newport, Covington and downtown Cincinnati. The trolley stops every 15 minutes and costs one dollar. See the route here.
There are also six Red Bike stations that share stations in Northern Kentucky and downtown Cincinnati.
For those who enjoy taking the bus. the TANK (Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky) provides service between Northern Kentucky and downtown Cincinnati.
Covington is conveniently located near downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge creates a quick link across the Ohio River. This bridge is a National Historic Landmark and a National Civic Engineering Landmark.
There are many local business located in Covington. From restaurants to coffee shops to tattoo parlors. One business of note is Donna Salyers’ Fabulous Furs – the leading U.S. faux fur designer.
Little-Known Covington Facts
Haven Gillespie is a Covington native who wrote the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. There is a marker for him located in Goebel Park on Philadelphia Street.
One Fortune 500 company is based in Covington: Ashland, Inc is located in the RiverCenter Complex.
Glier’s Goetta (with originals from Hanover, Germany) is the largest goetta producer in the area with over one million pounds yearly. This company hosts an annual Glier’s Goettafest at nearby Newport on the Levee.
Look at Covington homes for sale.
Photo credits: Sibcy Cline Photography Department.