In the nineteenth century, Cincinnati was an American boomtown in the heart of the country; it rivaled the larger coastal cities in size and wealth. Throughout much of the 19th century, it was listed among the top 10 U.S. cities by population, surpassed only by New Orleans and the older, established settlements of the United States eastern seaboard; and sixth-biggest city for a period spanning reports from 1840 until 1860. As Cincinnati was the first city founded after the American Revolution as well as the first major inland city in the country, it is thought of as the first purely "American" city.
Cincinnati developed with fewer European immigrants or influence than eastern cities attracted in the same period; however, it received a significant number of German immigrants, who founded many of the city's cultural institutions. By the end of the 19th century, with the shift from steamboats to railroads drawing off freight shipping, trade patterns had altered and Cincinnati's growth slowed considerably. The city was surpassed in population by other inland cities, particularly Chicago, which developed based on commodity exploitation and the railroads, and St. Louis, for decades after the Civil War the gateway to westward migration.
Cincinnati is home to two major sports clubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the oldest team in Major League Baseball, and the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. The University of Cincinnati, founded in 1819, is one of the 50 largest in the United States. Cincinnati is known for its historic architecture. In the late 1800s, Cincinnati was commonly referred to as "Paris of America", due mainly to such ambitious architectural projects as the Music Hall, Cincinnatian Hotel, and Shillito Department Store. Cincinnati is also the birthplace of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States.
Cincinnati began in 1788 when Mathias Denman, Colonel Robert Patterson and Israel Ludlow landed at a spot at the northern bank of the Ohio opposite the mouth of the Licking and decided to settle there. The original surveyor, John Filson, named it "Losantiville". In 1790, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, changed the name of the settlement to "Cincinnati" in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, made up of Revolutionary War veterans, of which he was a member; which was in turn named for Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a dictator in the early Roman Republic who saved Rome from a crisis, and then retired to farming because he didn't want to rule.
The introduction of steamboats on the Ohio in 1811 opened up its trade to more rapid shipping, and the city established commercial ties with St. Louis, Missouri and especially New Orleans downriver. Cincinnati was incorporated as a city in 1819. Exporting pork products and hay, it became a center of pork processing in the region. From 1810 to 1830 its population nearly tripled, from 9,642 to 24,831. Completion of the Miami and Erie Canal in 1827 to Middletown, Ohio further stimulated businesses, and employers struggled to hire enough people to fill positions. The city had a labor shortage until large waves of immigration by Irish and Germans in the late 1840s. The city grew rapidly over the next two decades, reaching 115,000 persons by 1850.