UC Libraries Launch Source Online

Newsletter, first published in 2002, contains the latest news and happenings from UC Libraries.

sourceUC Libraries is transforming  technology, people, space and information resources to “become the globally engaged, intellectual commons of the university – positioning ourselves as the hub of collaboration, digital innovation and scholarly endeavor on campus.”

It is in this spirit of transformation that we are changing the way in which we deliver Source to our readers. The online newsletter will still contain the latest information about the organization, people, places and happenings in UC Libraries, but will no longer be produced in print. By moving Source online, we are able to reach a greater number of readers on various devices – computers, phones, tablets and more.

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Cincinnati Subway and Street Improvements: your feedback needed!

Have you used the Cincinnati Subway and Street Improvements collection yet? See digital.libraries.uc.edu/subway. You’ll find the story of the unfinished Cincinnati subway and a map showing the route the subway would have taken, linked to the photographs themselves.

Please complete our brief survey to help the University of Cincinnati Libraries improve the support and delivery of digital collections and to plan future digital collections.


full screen map
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Historic Cincinnati Subway and Street Images Available on New Website

b53_f25_p001The University of Cincinnati Libraries have created a website and digital archive that provides access to the historic Cincinnati subway and street images, a collection of over 8,000 photographic negatives and prints taken as part of a failed subway development project in the 1920s, and photographs documenting various street projects from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Available at http://digital.libraries.uc.edu/subway/, the “Cincinnati Subway and Street Improvements, 1916-1955” website includes construction images as well as both interior and exterior shots of private residences and city scenes. In addition to providing access to the historic prints and photographs, the website also documents the story of the failed subway project and includes a construction map with linked images.

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Central Parkway and The Making of a "Grand Boulevard" = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By Angela Vanderbilt

The primary task of the Rapid Transit Commission and the 1917 Bauer Bill (Senate Bill 264, which authorized the formation of a commission for the design and construction of a rapid transit system) was not the construction of the subway alone, but the construction of Central Parkway, the “grand boulevard” that was to replace the Miami & Erie Canal. The Commission was also tasked with the secondary subway project to ensure that the Parkway was built, since the one could not commence before the other was underway, a means of ensuring the success of both.

When it was first proposed in a 1907 report, written by landscape architect George Kessler regarding the development of a city park system for Cincinnati, Central Parkway was meant to rival Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue and the grand boulevards of Europe, to be landscaped and lined by stately brownstones and mansions. Accented by decorative lampposts, fountains, trees and shrubbery, the new boulevard was to provide a park-like atmosphere for Cincinnatians, with sidewalks to stroll and benches on which to relax and enjoy the scenery of the Parkway as it wound its way north from Walnut Street in the downtown business district to Lundlow Avenue in the residential neighborhood of Clifton.

Ludlow Avenue Dam

Ludlow Avenue Dam, May 4, 1920

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"Thirsty and Ye Gave Me Drink"-The Henry Probasco Fountains = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

A prominent figure in early Cincinnati history, Henry Probasco was both businessman and philanthropist, committing his time to numerous Cincinnati organizations and societies, accumulating a large personal library of rare books and manuscripts, as well as an extensive collection of prints and paintings, both rivaling the finest in the country, and dedicating two elaborate fountains to the citizens of Cincinnati in the late 1800s.

Henry Probasco, along with his business partner and brother-in-law, Tyler Davidson, managed one of the most successful hardware companies in Cincinnati in the 1800’s – Tyler Davidson & Company. Probasco joined the business in 1835 as a clerk, and in 1840 was made a partner. The same year, he married Davidson’s half-sister, Julia. Together with Davidson, Probasco succeeded in expanding the business quickly, and by 1846, Tyler Davidson & Company was the largest hardware store in Cincinnati. In 1851, at Probasco’s suggestion, the partners built a new, multi-level structure on the site of the original store at 140-142 Main Street, between Second and Third Streets, and within three years, their sales quadrupled. Pearl Street, Water Street and Front Street were also located in this area, and ran parallel with Second Street to the north and the river to the south. The hardware store, Second, Front, Water, and Pearl Streets no longer exist; all have been replaced with I-71, Fort Washington Way, the Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium, among other attractions along the riverfront.

Main Street

After Tyler Davidson passed away in 1865, Henry Probasco sold the hardware business to former partner, William Lowry, in 1866. The building would have been located on the east (right) side of Main Street between Second and Third Streets, in the vicinity of the images above (Left: March 2, 1927; Right: July 8, 1927.

Streets along Riverfront

In the early history of Cincinnati, several streets were platted running parallel with the Ohio River, but which no longer exist. These were Pearl Street, Water Street, Front Street and Second Street. These have been replaced with Fort Washington Way, I-71, as well as museums, major league sports arenas and other businesses and attractions along the riverfront. (Left: March 2, 1927; Right: October 10, 1941)

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Photographic Collections and Archive Repositories: A Balancing Act = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

The University of Cincinnati’s Archives and Rare Books Library (ARB) maintains numerous collections containing records of historic value for research and scholarly use. These materials are comprised of a variety formats, including printed documents, university records, sound recordings, and photographic prints and negatives.

One of these collections is the Ohio Network collection, comprised of historic local government and public records. The City of Cincinnati Engineer Records is part of this collection, and contains records produced by the engineer’s office from 1851 through 1957, including those of the Rapid Transit Commission for the subway and Central Parkway construction, as well as other street improvements carried out by the city within the same timeframe. And among these records are the negatives and photographic prints that are currently being digitized and that will be made available online via the ARB and Digital Collections web sites.

Nitrate Negatives

Nitrate negatives contained within City of Cincinnati Engineer Records collection

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From Potter's Field to Union Terminal: The History of Lincoln Park = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By: Angela Vanderbilt

In my June 25 blog, “Ezzard Charles Drive: The Making of a Parkway,” I described how over time, many of the streets and locations captured in the Subway and Street Improvements images no longer exist, or have been altered in name or appearance, as they have been adapted for new uses. The area discussed in that blog is currently the site of the Cincinnati Museum Center, which occupies the former Union Terminal. Most residents of Cincinnati are familiar with the most current use of this building as well as its original purpose, a major railroad terminal by which passengers and freight from all over the United States passed through the Queen City. However, this area served two other purposes prior to the building of the terminal station, the first of which may surprise you. Continue reading

Cincinnati Street Names-A Who's Who of Cincinnati History = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

The subway and street improvements photograph collection is truly a wealth of historic information about the city of Cincinnati in the first half of the 20th century. As with most cities, many of the streets and avenues are named for the founders and prominent families who helped establish the city, as well as important statesmen such as presidents, governors and military heroes. Cincinnati has her fair share of these, with the city directories reading like a “Who’s Who” of Cincinnati’s political, cultural and economic development, with street names such as Ludlow, Symmes, and Patterson, St. Clair, Gamble and Ault, Anderson, Findlay and Wade, among others.

Gamble Street

Gamble Street, named for industrialist James Gamble, of Proctor & Gamble.

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Home Interiors of the 1920s = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

Contained within the subway portion of the photograph collection are images of the interiors of homes along McMicken Avenue taken during the construction of the subway. Originally intended to serve as evidence for claims by homeowners of structural damage to the houses caused by blasting for the subway tunnels, the pictures now serve as a historic reference of domestic life during the 1920s.

Interiors of Homes with damaged walls

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Ezzard Charles Drive, the Making of a Parkway

By Angela Vanderbilt

Road construction. It seems like it’s never ending. Some have joked that Ohio has only two seasons – winter and road construction. And the images in the Street Improvement collection would certainly seem to validate that. What is interesting about the images in the collection of street improvements is that many of the streets recorded in the photographs no longer exist. Or, where they do still exist, they are named differently or the surroundings have been altered to the point that the location in the photograph is no longer recognizable.

One major example of a street changing in both name and appearance is Laurel Street – or as we know it today, Ezzard Charles Drive. Originally a narrow street lined with brick row houses and businesses, Laurel Street extended from 1247 Plum Street west to Freeman Avenue, with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Hall towering over the eastern end of the street, as if keeping watch over all who passed. In the winter of 1921, subway construction made its way north along the canal bed to the Laurel Street intersection, where a tunnel ventilator was constructed.

Music Hall and Ventilator Construction

(Left) Construction of subway ventilator opposite Laurel Street, January 12, 1921, 2:02 p.m.
(Right) Laurel Street, west of Canal, with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Hall in center background, April 21, 1920, 3:47 p.m.

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