Northern Kentucky is an urban area in the U.S. Commonwealth of Kentucky compromising the southern part of the Cincinnati metropolitan area. The three main counties of the area are Boone, Kenton, and Campbell, all along the Ohio River across from Cincinnati, Ohio. Other counties frequently included in Northern Kentucky include Bracken, Grant, Gallatin and Pendleton. Of Greater Cincinnati's over two million residents, over 450,000 of them live in Northern Kentucky as of 2020, primarily in the northernmost counties. The largest cities in the region are Covington, Florence, and Independence.
Historically, Trimble, Mason, and Lewis County have also been included in the broader definition of Northern Kentucky. On July 17, 2019, Brent Cooper, a member of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, called for the Northern Kentucky community to consider reuniting three counties (Boone, Kenton, and Campbell) into one county to better reflect the region's common identity and strengthen its political voice and economic marketability.
The area was served by ferry service across the Ohio River until the completion of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (prototype of the famous Brooklyn Bridge) in 1866, whereupon land values in the areas near the river quadrupled overnight.
Beginning in the 1970s, many factors combined to create major growth. The proximity to Cincinnati, the completion of I-75, the nexus of rail service and river traffic, the creation of several industrial parks, and the growth of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) (located near Hebron in northeastern Boone County near the Kenton County line) drew many industries into the area. Its geographically central location (within 800 miles [1,300 km] of 80% of the US population) makes it ideal for distribution centers, and those shipping all over the country.
In addition to location, the Northern Kentucky area hosts several organizations that strive to enhance the quality of life and the local economy. The primary airport (CVG) serving Cincinnati is located in Northern Kentucky.
Northern Kentucky is located within a climatic transition zone and is at the extreme northern limit of the humid subtropical climate. Evidence of both humid subtropical climate and humid continental climate can be found here, particularly noticeable by the presence of plants indicative of each climatic region; for example, the southern magnolia, and crape myrtle, from the subtropics and the blue spruce, maple, and eastern hemlock from cooler regions are successful landscape plants in and around Northern Kentucky. Some significant moderating variables for the overall climate of Northern Kentucky include the Ohio River, the region's relatively large hills and valleys, and an urban heat influence due to the proximity of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky metropolitan area. The common wall lizard, introduced from Italy in the 1950s, is an example of fauna in the area that lends a subtropical ambiance to areas near the urban core of Cincinnati. Even though Kentucky as a whole is firmly considered Southern and part of the Upper South. Northern Kentucky is considered to be within the periphery of the Upper South and Midwest.
Northern Kentucky contributes many attractions to the Greater Cincinnati community. Beyond the shops, restaurants, and riverside views of Cincinnati's skyline, some of the more well-known attractions are The Florence Speedway, MainStrasse Village, Newport on the Levee (including the Newport Aquarium), and the World Peace Bell. There are also several community playhouses and music venues, along with community parks, arboretums, and museums. Campbell County has some wineries.
Religious attractions of Northern Kentucky range from the historic churches of the older river cities, including the St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and Mother of God Church, both in Covington, to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, south in Grant County. Florence is home to the Islamic Center of Northern Kentucky.
Northern Kentucky has several schools of higher education, including Gateway Community and Technical College, Northern Kentucky University, and Thomas More University.