In the 1920s, Newport was the Las Vegas of the Midwest, with more girls and gambling than you could shake a Tommy Gun at, if you were so inclined. Flash forward and the city has transformed into a family entertainment destination, thanks to the development of the riverfront and Newport on the Levee, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

"I think the venue's biggest asset is its central location on the banks of the Ohio," says Harold Dull, general manager of the Levee. "We've acted as kind of an anchor for the other economic development efforts of the city and the local business community."

Retail, restaurants and entertainment are all part of the mix. Anchored by the Newport Aquarium and AMC-Newport Theater, there are also the Funny Bone Comedy Club and Star Bowling. Dining options range from Mitchell's Fish Market and Brio Tuscan Grille, to Johnny Rockets and Brothers Bar & Grill.

Originally, the Levee was slated to be a wall of skyscrapers to generate more revenue, but the city decided to go with a low-rise family entertainment district instead, according to Newport City Commissioner Beth Fennell.

The results speak for themselves: "Everyone knows Newport on the Levee," Dull says.

Fennell, who is a real estate appraiser, says she often sees houses and apartments advertised as "close to the Levee" in the surrounding areas of Bellevue, Covington, Fort Wright, Fort Mitchell, and Fort Thomas. "So, in that respect, I believe the Levee forced the region to rethink their image of Newport and embrace it," she says.

The Levee's newest additions include a 6,400-square-foot expansion of office space for i-wireless, a Verizon Wireless store that opened in May, and Naked Tchopstix, a Pan-Asian restaurant and sushi bar that will occupy the newly-vacated site of AOI Japanese Cuisine.

"We have to continue to add value to the customer experience. We need to continue to make sure that we stay relevant for the next 10 years," Dull says.

In the surrounding community, Newport continues to move forward. "Newport has been fortunate. The staff was conservative in the years prior to the downturn, so (it was) not as severely affected as some cities," Fennel says. "In addition, thanks entirely to the dogged efforts of city staff, although some projects were delayed, developments like Newport Pavilion did open and have been tremendously successful."