As I’ve mentioned in earlier blog postings, the identity of the subway and street improvements photographer – or more likely, photographers, due to the 30-year time span of the collection – was not known at the outset of our digitization project. As more negatives are sent for scanning, we’ve gotten closer to revealing the identity.
Just last week, our scanning service came across a negative with “Photo by L.G. Folger” written at the bottom, below the date and location of the photograph. Very exciting news! This same name has also been found on the back of printed photographs. This is definitely a step in the right direction, considering it was found written directly on a negative as well as on prints! Other prints have a round stamp on the back with the information “W.T. Myers & Co., 238 E. 4th St., Cincinnati, Ohio”.
An interesting element appears now and again in the subway construction scans. Among the engineers, construction crews and machinery are some four-legged workers. Images of horses being utilized in the subway construction effort appear as late as 1926, and images of horse-powered transportation, including buggies and delivery wagons, are seen as late as 1931.
When construction of the subway started in January, 1920, three contractors had been selected by the Rapid Transit Commission to complete the work: D.P. Foley General Contractors, Hickey Brothers and Fred R. Jones Company. The construction of the 16-mile subway loop was separated into nine sections, with contractors bidding for work on each section. One section might include construction of tunnels within the old canal bed for underground subway tunnels and stations, while another section might require construction of tunnels through a hillside, above-ground station construction, or grading of terrain for tracks to be laid in the open.
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
Over winter break, a good deal of progress was made on the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection (SWOFC) web exhibit. Work on the exhibit is almost complete and it should be available online within the next couple of weeks. This exhibit will feature brief glimpses into the various genres of the collection, as well as a link to the finding aid. All the research materials in the SWOFC were donated by professor emeritus Edgar Slotkin who collected them over the span of his four decades of teaching folklore in the Department of English at UC. He saved the years’ worth of student work which now makes up the collection. Continue reading Progress on the Folklore Collection
Some of our regular blog followers may have noticed that both the Archives and Rare Books Library and the Winkler Center are active contributors to the OhioLINK Finding Aid Repository. This repository was designed to help researchers find special collections, manuscripts, and archival material throughout the state of Ohio. A total of 60 institutions are currently participating and the repository now holds more than 4000 finding aids. Researchers can find 330 of the Archives and Rare Books Library’s finding aids on the site. Although the repository is not yet comprehensive, it does allow researchers to find an important avenue to find collections within the state of Ohio.
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.
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.