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Historical Timeline 1939–2003



World War II


Rosemary and Betty Clooney begin their singing career on WLW in Cincinnati.


Red “The Enforcer” Masterson, owner of a local gambling house, survives a shooting on the streets of Newport. Dozens of illegal casinos and brothels line the streets of the town, and top-name entertainers like Jimmy Durante, the Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Liberace play its nightclubs.


Father Anthony Deye opens the Marydale Camp on 350 acres near Erlanger, insisting that it be available to people of modest means and fully integrated.

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The Behringer-Crawford Museum opens in Devou Park.


The U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling ends legal segregation in public schools.


Northern Kentucky native Jim Bunning makes his first career start as a major league pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. He will go on to record 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts and pitch no-hitters in both the American and National leagues.


A new Latonia Race Track opens in a different location.
Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Hank Messick begins writing stories about crime in Newport.

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Early 1960s

Bob Braun of Ludlow joins Ruth Lyons on WLWT-TV’s 50-50 Club. He will take over the show in 1967 and remain on the air until 1984.


The Committee of 500 is established with the avowed purpose of cleaning up corruption in Newport. The committee chooses former high school and Notre Dame football star (and father of eight) George Ratterman as its reform candidate for sheriff.

In May, Ratterman is arrested at the Glenn Hotel with a prostitute, and newspapers across the country jump on the story. The charges against Ratterman are dropped after testimony indicates that he was set up. He is elected sheriff, and the subsequent investigation into the violation of his civil rights opens the door to a federal probe of organized crime influence in Newport.


The first traffic traverses “Death Hill,” a steep curved section through Covington, as Interstate 75 is extended south from Cincinnati through Northern Kentucky.


On Father’s Day, Jim Bunning pitches a perfect game, the first in the National League since 1880.

Lyndon Johnson visits the Thomas Fletcher family in Eastern Kentucky’s Martin County to declare his War on Poverty.

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Kentucky becomes the first Southern state to pass a civil rights act.


Northern Kentucky State College opens.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy are assassinated, and Richard Nixon is elected president.


Ground is broken for the first building on Northern Kentucky State College’s Highland Heights campus, on property at what will become the intersection of I-275 and I-471. The Kentucky Council on Public Higher Education approves a merger between the college and the Chase College of Law in Cincinnati, paving the way for university status for the Northern Kentucky school. It will become NKU in 1976.


Haven Gillespie is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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The Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Airport is expanded.

late 1970’s

The Mainstrasse project is developed to help revitalize Covington’s riverfront.


The Florence Mall opens.


On May 28, a fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate kills 165 people. The subsequent investigations and lawsuits lead to significant changes in state building code enforcement; the banning of aluminum wiring; the first use of enterprise liability, in which a company is held responsible for the actions of its employees or an industry for the actions of member businesses; and the use of class action in disaster litigation.

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Covington native Steve Cauthen rides Affirmed to the Triple Crown in a famous series of duels with Alydar.


The Wiedemann Brewery closes.


Latonia is purchased by a Nashville developer, who changes its name to Turfway.


The Dinsmore Homestead Foundation purchases an 1842 farmhouse and 30 acres from the Dinsmore family in Boone County, creating a living history museum.

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The airport expands again.


The Newport Aquarium opens. It is part of the Newport on the Levee riverfront development project.


Taxpayers reject a proposal for a light rail line for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky using the abandoned Cincinnati subway (2.2 miles and three stations still exist).


The first climbers cross the Ohio River via the Purple People Bridge.

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