Supply In Demand-Acquiring Construction Resources in Post-WWI Cincinnati: Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By: Angela Vanderbilt

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.

Map of Subway Construction area

March 1, 1921 – Photograph of a map of Cincinnati showing rapid transit loop & interurbans

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Accidents Happen: Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By Angela Vanderbilt

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

Urban Appalachian Council Records Available in ARB

By Suzanne Maggard

Appalachian Festival

Music at an Appalachian Festival

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

Pairing Prints with Negatives: Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

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

Cincinnati Then and Now: Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

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.

Race at Canal 1921

Northbound Race at Canal, 1921

Race at Central 2012

Northbound Race Street at Central Pkwy, 2012





Elm at Central

Northbound Elm St. at Canal St., 1921

Elma at Central, 2012

Northbound Elm at Central Pkwy, 2012


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The McNamara Brothers and American Terrorism

By Kevin Grace     

Cover of Terrorist Attacks on American SoilAdmittedly scatter-brained in many regards, it sometimes takes a few days for me to catch on to matters.  To wit, two weeks ago a book arrived on my desk from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers accompanied by no letter or other explanation, only the package with my name typed on the label.  I thought it was just another of the occasional books that find their way here, usually self-published religious or philosophical musings that are mailed wholesale to everyone and his brother.  The title was interesting, though: Terrorist Attacks on American Soil: From the Civil War Era to the Present, and it was from a legitimate publisher.  But even so, I set it aside with barely a glance. Continue reading

A Changing Landscape-The Subway and Street Images Digitization Project Continues

By Angela Vanderbilt

An immediate advantage gained by the digitization of the subway construction negatives is that one can now easily follow the progress being made on the project. From images of the drained canal bed and the earliest scoops of dirt removed to shots of the broad parkway ready to receive pedestrian and automobile traffic, researchers accessing the images will be able to follow each step of the process, much like the crowds of curious onlookers who gathered daily to watch the event in the early 1920s.

Once the collection is made available online, viewers may easily follow the construction process for each section of the proposed route, thanks to the photographer who carefully documented each image by writing the date, time, and location of each photograph directly on the negative itself. Such information is an invaluable historic record of the project, and of the city of Cincinnati, and will be captured in a database to make searching for specific images within the collection that much easier.

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Myra's Dionysus: Local Folk Art and Food Lore

By Molly Gullett

The Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection features a wide range of folklore related topics and this week’s blog explores food lore and folk art with a local twist. Carol Watkins’ paper from the collection features photographs and information on Myra’s Dionysus, a charming restaurant situated in a unique building at 121 Calhoun Street. Myra’s Dionysus is well known locally for their ethnic foods, vegetarian options and, perhaps most notably, for their seasonal soups. If you have ever visited the restaurant, you might remember that the soups which are being offered that day are listed on colorful hand-painted signs hanging in the doorway to the small, but cozy, dining room. Continue reading

Celebrating the 103 years of Elliot Carter's Life: Reflecting on the Great Composer's Ties to the Queen City

By Lauren Fink

Elliot CarterIn addition to the John Cage Festivities this week at CCM, another major event has happened in the musical world: one of the century’s greatest composers, Elliot Carter died on Monday, Nov. 5th, at 103 years of age.

Born on Dec. 11th, 1908, at age 15 Carter met composer Charles Ives who was an extremely influential mentor, introducing Carter to contemporary composers and musicians and encouraging his musical development. Throughout the 1920s, Carter spent most of his summers in Europe studying the scores of composers from the second Viennese school – Schoenberg, Berg, Webern – and eventually matriculated to Harvard University. At Harvard, where he studied with Gustav Holst, Carter received a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Music.  In 1932, Carter went to Paris to study at the Ecole Normale de Musique, in addition to taking private lessons with Nadia Boulanger (who was a notable teacher of many other famous composers, like Aaron Copland and Philip Glass). Carter returned to the US in 1936, mainly residing in New York.  Throughout his career he taught at Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Julliard, Peabody Conservatory, Queens College, and St. John’s College.  He was also composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome and Berlin. Continue reading

Experiencing Election Withdrawal? ARB is here to help!

Are you in election withdrawal?  Don’t know what you will do without those election commercials?  Even if you are still celebrating the fact that you can turn on the TV and listen to a commercial that does not talk about Republicans, Democrats, unemployment, or debt, you may still enjoy this exhibit by the Museum of the Moving Image.  “The Living Room Candidate” holds presidential campaign videos from every presidential election since 1952.  It provides an interesting look at the issues of each of those elections and the changes in presidential campaigning since the mid-20th century.  For example, look at the cartoons and catchy tunes used in the commercials of John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower, and then the references to violence in the commercials of both Nixon and Humphrey in 1968.  See how the families of candidates have been used in campaign commercials over the past sixty years, and make sure to look for any television or movie stars who might show up in a commercial.

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