Summit Park Observation Tower 150 feet tall

Summit Park is built on the site of the old Blue Ash Airport, so it seemed to the city of Blue Ash, that there should be an observation tower at the park. Not only was the site an old airport, it is located on the highest piece of ground in the area. That was that… There was to be a tower built that was a reference to the former airport… (Ironically, the Blue Ash Airport was a very small airport, where only single engine propeller planes where allowed, and there was no tower of any sort, unless you count a tall ladder at the main hanger)

A tower was to be built, and it was to be located at the end of the Great Lawn of the park.

As the height of the tower was debated, several methods were used to see; at what height would you see anything worth seeing? First, a ladder truck from the firehouse was brought to the site and the ladder was extended to as high a height as it could reach. Approximately 80-90 feet above the ground level. Not high enough.

Then a hot air balloon was deployed. Tethered to the ground, the balloon was raised and pictures were taken. Not totally effective. The day was a bit windy and the sky a bit hazy.

No decision on the height was made.

Then a drone was sent up. (You might ask why a drone wasn’t used the first time. In 2013, when the park was being designed, drones were not a thing for just anyone to use. As the park and subsequently the tower was designed, drones became more readily available). The drone was equipped with a camera and was instructed to take photographs a full 360 degrees around the center point of where the tower would be built. Pictures were taken at various heights. The photographs would be used to find the right height).

The drone took pictures starting at 50 feet from the ground, and took photos every 25 higher till it reached 200 feet. Once the photos were studied, it was clear what the height should be. Blue Ash is located about 11 miles northeast from downtown Cincinnati, and …

Why would you make certain that a view from the tower could catch the Cincinnati skyline? One would think that the higher you go the better the view, but that was not what was determined.

It seemed that at heights lower than 150 feet from the ground you couldn’t see the skyline at all because a hillside full of trees towards the city blocked any view. And, at heights higher than 150 feet +/-, the skyline could be seen, but behind the image of the skyline were the hillsides of Northern Kentucky, and it would is difficult to make out the tops of the buildings. At 150 feet, you can see the profile of the skyline rise above the hillsides beyond.

So, 150 feet was the magic height.

The observation platform allows people to be able to see 360 degrees around the area, but most visitors want to see downtown Cincinnati.

Another interesting note about the location of the downtown Cincinnati skyline as it relates to the tower, is that most people think the tower is located so that the Cincinnati skyline is directly to the south of the tower. (People just think that Blue Ash is north of the city, so . . . . . . . . The city must be south). But the skyline view is to the east southeast, and many people fail to locate it for quite a long time, absolutely certain that the skyline is south.

Look to the far east side of the park and a bit to the south. You’ll find the downtown Cincinnati skyline.

Hot Air Balloon floating 150 feet
Hot air balloon used to determine the optimal height of the tower.