Settlers arrived in the Harrison area in the early 1800s. Most were Revolutionary War veterans or others lured by the promises of abundant forested land located within the network of navigable rivers flowing to the Ohio. Othneil Looker, a leading citizen, built a home of lumber in 1804 and set about providing instruction in reading and writing to his fellow settlers. He eventually served as the 5th governor of Ohio in 1814.
By 1810, the 4 blocks of the original town centering on the intersection of Market (now Harrison Ave.) and Walnut Streets were platted. The town continued to grow and was formally incorporated as a village in 1850 with a population of 940. The town has been called Harrison since 1814, in honor of General William Henry Harrison, a resident of nearby North Bend.
The village continued to grow and survive several disasters. The 1854 tornado, the explosion of the Town Hall in 1877 and the 1913 flood are among the more devastating events.
The Civil War also played its part in the history of Harrison. Confederate raiders, under the leadership of General John Hunt Morgan, swept through the town in July 1863. They entered Ohio from Indiana, taking horses and other loot and subsequently burned the suspension bridge at the end of Main Street (now State Street) after crossing it.
As the 2nd half of the 19th century played out, the village continued to develop and was the site of the first high school outside of Cincinnati in Hamilton County. The enrollment continued to rise and eventually the 1-room schoolhouses in the surrounding area, were consolidated into the Southwest Local School District in 1954.
As the 1980 census approached, Harrison was poised to become a city and was duly certified in 1981 when the population reached 5,855.
The City of Harrison is a charter city under the constitution of the State of Ohio and has a “strong Mayor” form of government. The mayor and the 7 members of city council serve 4 year terms which are staggered.
Currently, the city possesses its own water system and waste water treatment facilities. The Police Department is nationally certified and the Fire Department and EMS service serve not only the city, but also the unincorporated areas of Harrison Township.
A tradition of having access to good transportation, which started with the original Harrison Turnpike, progressing through canals, railroads and finally with the arrival of Interstate 74 keeps the city well connected within the region. The Greater Cincinnati Airport is a short 20 minute drive. Our location on the state line between Ohio and Indiana allows Harrison to be a gateway to the west.