In order for Cincinnati to keep pace with other major cities at the turn of the 20th century, city leaders and citizens recognized that a rapid transit system was necessary for the successful growth and prosperity of Cincinnati. Although several electric street car and interurban railroad lines, as well as horse-drawn streetcars, were utilized for passenger transportation around the city, each line was separately owned and passengers were required to switch from one line to another to reach the downtown business district. A faster, more direct and more efficient means of reaching the downtown was needed.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the collection’s photographer (whose identity continues to elude us) did not hesitate to include scenes of everyday life in his images that document the subway and street improvement projects. As he photographed the progress of the construction, which included images of the workers, engineers and commissioners in charge of the projects, he also captured the curiosity of the city surrounding these projects.
The Archives and Rare Books Library has added some new links on our website for Cincinnati German-American places and events. Have you seen the Sausage Queen at Bockfest? Have you danced the Chicken Dance at Oktoberfest? If not, learn more about these German-influenced events in the Cincinnati area. We’ve also updated other links on ARB’s website for research resources, exhibits, and websites related to our collections. Take a look and see if there is anything that interests you. For more information, contact the Archives and Rare Books Library staff directly at 513.556.1959 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to the scenes of everyday life that are found in the photographs of Cincinnati’s subway and street improvement projects, our photographer also captured a glimpse at the consumer side of this growing city. Images of billboard advertisements, as well as shots of shops and markets, gas stations and factories are found within the photographs, providing a backdrop to the construction and repair work that were the intended subject matter.
Found among the images of neighborhood drugstores and shops are shots of companies such as Cincinnati’s own The Kroger Company. In the images below, early Kroger storefronts are seen, one located at the corner of Mohawk and Central Parkway, and the other (to the right of Linwood Drug Store) at the corner of Eastern and Linwood Avenues.
With the first major storm of the winter about to hit us in the next couple of days, it seems appropriate for a campus trip down memory lane. And, it should be a quintessential Cincinnati weather experience of warm temperatures, rain, driving rain, gale-force winds, sleet, and snow all in the same 24-hour period. If any ghosts of ancient Mayans visit the Queen City tomorrow or Friday, in all likelihood they will say, “See! Told you so!”
In the spring of 1916, the citizens of Cincinnati voted in favor of the $6 million bond issue approved by City Council for construction of the “Pearl Street Belt Line,” a rapid transit loop that was to provide a solution to the congested traffic patterns in-and-out of downtown Cincinnati at the turn of the 20th century.
Sometimes, in order to build up you must tear down. Sometimes, progress comes with a price. In the case of the Cincinnati subway construction project, that price was the removal of several homes and businesses located along the proposed subway route. The razing of these buildings was due in part to their location, some lay in the direct path of the subway route, but also due to structural damage caused by the construction process.
All buildings were photographed as part of the subway project, including those which sustained damage due to construction of the subway. In some locations, vibration from blasting and digging resulted in cracked walls and ceilings. Below are images from 1921, the beginning of construction, that show cracks in foundations of structures located along the old canal bed, the new Central Parkway. Such photographs would be used to support property owner damage claims made to the city. It is reported that the city paid out over a quarter-million dollars in property damage reparations. Continue reading Accidents Happen: Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project
After World War II and through the 1960s and 1970s, millions of people fled Appalachia in search of jobs and a better life. Cincinnati’s proximity to Appalachian counties in Kentucky and Ohio and its industries encouraged many migrants to settle in this area. The migrants brought unique music, cultural traditions, and stories. The experiences of Cincinnati’s Appalachian migrants varied. Continue reading Urban Appalachian Council Records Available in ARB
The Cincinnati (Ohio) City Engineer – Rapid Transit Records collection includes both negatives and prints of subway construction and street improvement projects conducted by the City of Cincinnati between 1917 and 1957. While we are fortunate to have over 2000 printed copies from negatives included in the collection, not every negative has a matching print, and the digitization project does not extend to producing archival prints of the negatives. Because the prints and negatives have been separated into folders, with the negative folders organized by date and the print folders organized by street name, it is quite a task to match a print with a negative.
Like a game of Concentration, I compare prints to scanned images, hoping to match a print with its negative, spurred on by the challenge of turning over the right combination of cards! Fortunately, having gone through each folder to prepare the materials for scanning has made me familiar enough with the contents to have a general idea of where I might locate an image of Elm Street or Ludlow Avenue. Most helpful is the information being transcribed from the negatives and prints as they are scanned, which provides dates and street names in a spreadsheet that I compare and also match to the finding aid. As the project moves into the online collection building phase, each print will be matched with its negative in a database, so that ultimately researchers viewing the images on screen may quickly determine if a physical print is available. Continue reading Pairing Prints with Negatives: Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project
Reviewing the images of the subway construction has provided me with a great opportunity to learn the names of the streets and the different intersections around downtown Cincinnati that were major points along the subway route. As I learn to navigate my way around the city, driving from one location to another, I’m finding this very useful as I’m constantly recalling images and the navigational captions written on the negatives. By providing the street names and directional information for each image, the photographer gave us a map of 1920s Cincinnati. I thought it would be fun to show a “then and now” perspective of some of those streets and intersections, courtesy of Google maps, providing a snapshot of how much the city has grown and changed, starting with the removal of the canal in the 1920s.
The images shown here begin at Race Street and head west along Central Parkway, then make a turn at Plum Street to head north on Central Parkway past Mohawk Place (The building on the corner of Central and Mohawk Robin Imaging, the company digitizing the collection.), and north on McMicken Ave.