Downtown Buildings 2



  On August 24, 1929 Thomas Emery's Sons announced a $30 million real estate deal to erect the largest building complex of its kind in the United States. The Emery Hotel, (see hotel pages) and the Carew Building were among the buildings razed for this construction project. On November 11, 1929 excavations began and the construction of the building began on January 8, 1930. The Carew Tower was named after John Carew (1848-1914), co-founder of the Mabley & Carew department store chain, (with the original store located on the opposite corner). The complex included a 48-story office building, a 750 car 28 story garage, department store, arcade, a 800 room 29 story hotel, and restaurants.

Carew Tower Arcade.jpg (425018 bytes)

  Many consider the fully automated 28 story parking garage as the most exciting part of this monumental project. The driver pulled into a parking service bay, got out and locked the car. Automated platforms then would slide the car onto elevators which carried it to a vacant level and deposited it. When the driver came to get their car, they would sit down in a waiting room as the car was returned via the elevator and automated platform. This revolutionary method ultimately failed because of the many shapes and sizes of the cars coming off the production lines in the ensuing years. Also it was not very reliable and broke down frequently. It was also very time consuming for short-term parkers as opposed to employees of the tower or hotel guests who stayed overnight. The automated system was eventually dismantled and replaced by humans who rode the elevators and parked the cars.  In the 1980s this portion of the Carew complex was demolished during renovations because of the weakened condition of the structural steel supports caused by road salt eating away at them for 50 years.

Non-postcard images
Plaza-garage.jpg (1198272 bytes)        Plaza-garage lobby.jpg (529664 bytes)

Carew Garage

  Incredibly in 7 months, believe it or not, the Carew Tower was dedicated on July 10, 1930 with the first tenant moving in on October 1. The entire project took only 17 months with the garage being one of the final items to be completed. The primary retail tenant was Mabley & Carew, (Pogue's moved in when Mabley & Carew moved across the street in 1962). The Netherland Plaza opened on the west side of the tower, (see hotel section).

These are not postcards
Carew Tower Construction.jpg (410890 bytes)        View from Union Central.jpg (224541 bytes)        Ft. Sq.-1930.jpg (262435 bytes)                                Brand new Carew Tower.jpg (195467 bytes)
                      Carew Tower under construction                                                           Brand new building


Carew Tower-a1.jpg (145959 bytes)        Carew Tower-1.jpg (139106 bytes)        Carew Tower-2.jpg (105823 bytes)        Carew Tower-3.jpg (119983 bytes)        Carew Tower-4.jpg (130873 bytes)


Carew Tower-4a.jpg (118782 bytes)        Carew Tower-5.jpg (121710 bytes)        Carew Tower-8.jpg (98773 bytes)        Carew Tower-9.jpg (108631 bytes)        Carew Tower-10.jpg (99435 bytes)


Carew Tower-7.jpg (136237 bytes)            Carew Tower-6.jpg (98716 bytes)            Carew Tower-11.jpg (98789 bytes)
These 3 cards show the two tallest buildings in Cincinnati (years ago) 
So it is only appropriate that the next building is:



  The Union Central Life Insurance Company was founded by the Methodist Church on January 10, 1867. Preachers were encouraged to become agents, with notable success. The company occupied the building below (not a postcard) from 1874 until they moved into the 34 story Union Central Tower at 4th and Vine.

Union Central Life Insurance Co-4th & Central.jpg (175394 bytes)
4th and Central

  Anyone living in Cincinnati will recognize this building instantly. Built in 1913 it is 34 stories tall and when built it was the 5th largest building in the world and the tallest building outside of New York. The architect, Cass Gilbert, topped the building with a bronze replica of the tomb of King Mausolus of Turkey. (source of the word mausoleum). Located at the southwest corner of 4th and Vine, this is where the home of Reuben Springer the promoter of Music Hall,  the Post Office, and then, the Chamber of Commerce had stood. It is now known as the PNC Building.

Central Trust Lithograph.jpg (1576169 bytes)                    PNC Bank Building Details.jpg (188985 bytes)
Lithograph                                  Building Details

UC LIfe-14.jpg (135578 bytes)        Union Central 2.jpg (109478 bytes)        UC LIfe-11.jpg (91490 bytes)        Union Central 5a.jpg (82094 bytes)        Union Central 5b.jpg (92175 bytes)        Union Central-fancy.jpg (104264 bytes)

UC LIfe-3.jpg (93136 bytes)        UC LIfe-4.jpg (102327 bytes)        Union Central Life nite.jpg (295932 bytes)        UC LIfe-5.jpg (115026 bytes)        UC LIfe-6.jpg (126264 bytes)        UC LIfe-8.jpg (113229 bytes)

UC LIfe-12.jpg (97960 bytes)        UC LIfe-13.jpg (98013 bytes)        Union Central 1.jpg (125625 bytes)        UC LIfe-9.jpg (172527 bytes)        Union Central Life Insurance f.jpg (445443 bytes)        UC LIfe-15.jpg (94984 bytes)

UC LIfe-16.jpg (98542 bytes)        UC LIfe-17.jpg (98778 bytes)        UC LIfe-18.jpg (90748 bytes)

Union Central 3.jpg (105150 bytes)    UC LIfe-10.jpg (153179 bytes)    Union Central 4.jpg (89335 bytes)    UC LIfe-7.jpg (141361 bytes)    UC LIfe-1.jpg (126737 bytes)    UC LIfe-2.jpg (277539 bytes)

   In 1926 the Burnet House, (see Hotels), which had stood on this corner was torn down to make room for the addition of an annex to the Union Life Building. All six cards above were produced before the annex had been completed. They all state on the back that only 10 stories were done.

Union Central-south side.jpg (693251 bytes)

   I don't know what the photograph above is showing. At first I thought it was a fire, but then I noticed the bunting hanging down on the northeast corner of the building plus there is a fountain of water shooting straight up from the roof. I now believe that they may be celebrating the completion of the tallest building in the city. The main reason for showing this photo is the rather unusual view of the, at that time, very old Burnet House that was torn down in only a few years.,



   Communications in the 19th century in Cincinnati began like any other community, by telegraph. One of the big problems with a telegraph was the need to retain an army of messengers. Charles Kilgour was a banker and transit company investor whose home lay on the eastern side of Cincinnati mid-way up the hill. Kilgour broke his leg when he fell off his horse when it became frightened by one of his steam traction cars. He was forced to work from his home and therefore a clerk named Thomas Bell (co-incidence no relationship) had to relay messages by foot all day long. Tired of running up hill every day he suggested that Kilgour have a telegraph installed in his home. He did and became one of the first to have one installed in a residence. He then formed a company to install the telegraph in other homes and with different branches of a large company. Formed in 1873, it was called The City and Suburban Telegraph Association.

Charles Kilgour House.jpg (315642 bytes)
Charles Kilgour House

   It was not very successful because all messages had to be sent in code. In 1877 James Shiras arrived in town with a year old device that could carry voices by wire. Since Kilgour's company already had wire all over the city, his company was a natural fit for the new invention. City & Suburban not only bought the idea but it hired Shiras to sell telephones to the rest of Cincinnati. Their first sale was to Cincinnati Gas Light & Coke Co. (later C. G. & E.).
   The person Alexander Graham Bell talked to in that first historic call, Thomas Watson, came to Cincinnati to help lay out the new system. The company's name was changed to The City and Suburban Telegraph Association and Telephonic Exchange. In 1878 the city and Suburban signed a contract with Bell Telephone of Boston to be the exclusive agent for Bell in Cincinnati. With 18 subscribers and four telephone lines the Bell Telephonic Exchange opened, in 1878, their first exchange on the 4th floor of the Baker Building located on the southwest corner of 4th and Walnut.

1st Telephone Exchange Building.jpg (543514 bytes)
1st Exchange at 4th & Walnut

   The company contracted with American Telephone and Telegraph in 1882 for long distance service (100 miles was long distance at that time). In 1891 the first underground cable was laid.

Telephone Exchange 1886-1892.jpg (250841 bytes)                        Telephone Installer's Buggy.jpg (288025 bytes)
Central Exchange 3rd & Walnut                   Dapper Installer around 1900     

   In 1903 the name was changed to Cincinnati & Suburban Bell Telephone. In 1904 the 1st coin-operated phone was installed on 4th Street between Walnut & Main (in front of the Joseph R. Peebles' Sons Co. grocery store). In 1913 a new headquarters building was constructed on 4th Street between Main and Sycamore.

Not a postcard                                                                                                                                                  
Telephone Exucitive Offices.jpg (286844 bytes)        Bell Telephone 1.jpg (113313 bytes)        Bell Telephone 2.jpg (106525 bytes)        Bell Telephone Building.jpg (311797 bytes)        Bell Telephone-aa.jpg (112852 bytes)
Headquarters on 4th Street

   A minor detail I missed telling was that it was Charles brother John Kilgour who became president of the company and in 1912, two years before his death his son, Bayard Kilgour, took over the reins of the company. Below is a newspaper caricature of Bayard. 

B.Kilgour-Bell Telephone.jpg (190243 bytes)
B. Kilgour
President & General Manager

   In 1915 transcontinental calls began. Conversion to dial service began in 1930 and was completed in 1952. In 1931 the new Telephone Operating Building was opened at 7th & Elm Streets. In 1930 the company began converting to dial service which was completed in 1952. In 1946 mobile telephones were introduced.  The two-letter exchange and the five digit number was replaced by a seven digit number in 1962. In 1968 electronic switching and musical beeps were introduced. In 1981 headquarters were moved next door into the new Atrium One. The building above was razed in 1982 to make room for Atrium Two.

Telephone Operating Building.jpg (281462 bytes)        Long Distance Switchboard.jpg (365220 bytes)                        Historic Place 5.jpg (802491 bytes)
  Operating Bldg.          Largest straight line long distance                              Recent Photograph  
209 West 7th Street                switchboard in the world                                                                              

   The world's longest straight line switchboard consisted of 88 long distance operators. On 1/23/37 a record 9,722 calls were made. The 3 images above are not postcards.
   In 1971 the company's name was changed to Cincinnati Bell. In 1976 a larger building was joined to the building at 7th & Elm at 7th & Plum. On April 20, 1995 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Bell Telephone-bb.jpg (93884 bytes)
West exchange 930 York St.



American Book Co, 317 Walnut.jpg (193373 bytes)        American Book Co.jpg (96482 bytes)    American Book Co.jpg (86363 bytes)        American Book-front.jpg (64169 bytes)    american book back.jpg (346843 bytes)
           317 Walnut                                                     300 Pike St.                                                                        Back of card on left

   The American Book Co.'s first building is shown in the first, non-postcard image, at 317 Walnut Street. In 1904 they constructed the current structure at 300 Pike St. The company is most famous for their McGuffy Readers. It was placed on the Historical Register in 1974. The building was sold in 1980 and converted into office space and serves as the corporate headquarters for The David J. Joseph co. Two of the floors are leased to law firms.



                                                        Not postcards
Western Book Concern.jpg (104948 bytes)                        Western Methodist Book Concern 220 W 4th.jpg (230534 bytes)        Western Methodist Book Concern-1894.jpg (147363 bytes)        Methodist Book Concern Plum St..jpg (718168 bytes)
                                                         220 W. 4th                            Ad.                              420 Plum St

   The Methodist Book Concern printed out of the two buildings above over the years although it has different addresses for the 4th Street building, they were changed when the city changed its addressing system in 1897. They moved from the 4th Street building into the Plum Street building sometime in the late teens.


ANDREWS  BLDG.                                               ALMS & DOEPKE CO.                     

Andrews Building.jpg (117680 bytes)    Andrew's Building.jpg (104127 bytes)              Alms and Doepke Co.jpg (91743 bytes)    Alms and Doepke-aa.jpg (104956 bytes)    Alms & Doepke Building.jpg (734633 bytes)
    s. e. cor. 5th & Race                                                                                     Canal and Main                                        

   For more about the Alms & Doepke building, check out the Canals Page on the Transportation main page. The last image is a present day photo.


                         AMERICAN BLDG.                          SCHMIDT CO. BLDG.         VOGELER DRUG CO.

American Building.jpg (127991 bytes)     American Bldg-ab.jpg (100553 bytes)    American Building.jpg (706861 bytes)                 Schmidt Building.jpg (129203 bytes)                              Vogler Drug.jpg (217153 bytes)
                        Central Parkway                                                     s. w. cor. 5th & Main                                  217 East 6th St.

   The 3rd image is a present day photo.


             JOHNSTON  BUILDING                                     TEMPLE  BAR  BLDG.

Johnston Building 1.jpg (135496 bytes)        Johnston Building 2.jpg (134962 bytes)                              Temple Bar Building.jpg (136203 bytes)
                    s. w. corner of 5th and Walnut                                                          n. w. cor. Main and Court



Doctors Building.jpg (120233 bytes)    Doctors Building-Theo Rosenthal.jpg (374786 bytes)                    Doctors Building.jpg (747638 bytes)    Doctor's Building.jpg (2694456 bytes)  
19 Garfield Place

   On December 4th, 1986 the Doctor's Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The last two images above are photographs.



Manufacturers Exhibit Building 1.jpg (119417 bytes)        Manufacturers Exhibit Building 2.jpg (115746 bytes)
            Location unknown              



Convention Center-aa.jpg (591820 bytes)    Convention Center-bb.jpg (543558 bytes)    convention center-Brethren Church.jpg (100708 bytes)

   These three cards show the Cincinnati Convention Center as it looked when dedicated on August 4, 1967. Consisting of 95,000' sq. feet on the block bounded by 5th, 6th, Elm, and Plum Streets it soon  came to be regarded as outdated and too small, it was also considered to be an ugly looking box-like structure with 'no spirit'. An expansion and remodeling program began in 1984 which resulted in an elegant facility with 162,000-square feet of exhibition space, a 30,000-square foot ballroom, plus 43 meeting rooms. The arch from the old Albee Theater was installed over the 5th St. entrance. This new structure was rededicated June 9, 1986 as the Sabin Convention Center in honor of Dr. Albert Sabin who had developed the oral polio vaccine in the 1950s at Cincinnati's Children's Hospital.



Union Gas and Electric.jpg (123923 bytes)        Gas & Electric Building.jpg (783546 bytes)
139 East 4th St.

   The Cinergy Corporation began in 1837 as the Cincinnati Gas Light & Coke to provide street gaslights. The 1st gaslights were lit in 1843 at the corner of 4th & Main Streets for the W. H. Harrison Pharmacy. This location later became the headquarters of Duke Energy Ohio & Kentucky. In 1875 the company began marketing gas for cooking and selling appliances. The company bought Cincinnati Electric Light Co. in 1889. In 1901 10 different electric companies consolidated with the gas company to form Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. 6 Northern Kentucky gas & electric companies combined to form Union Light Heat & Power Co. In 1909 both companies became subsidiaries of Columbia Gas & Electric. In 1946 Columbia Gas & Electric was required to divest CG&E and CG&E's shares were sold to the public. In 1994 CG&E merged with PSI Energy in Indiana to form Cinergy Corp. In 2006 Charlotte N. C. based Duke Energy Corp. acquired Cinergy Corp. The last image is a present day photograph.

CG&E West End Power Plant.jpg (1457261 bytes)            Plum St. Gas & Electric 1909.jpg (510407 bytes)
  West End Power Station            Plum St. Power Station

   The Plum Street power station was right across from where the canal turned towards the east along what is now Central Parkway.

Gas Lights.jpg (218731 bytes)        Central Pkwy.jpg (1409172 bytes)
Gas Lights        

   The Cincinnati Street Gas Lamps are composed of more than 1,100 street lamps scattered throughout the city. The street lamps were added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1978. They were seen as being historic because they are representative of the application of early- to mid-nineteenth-century technology to daily life. Prompted by a newly founded firm known as the "Cincinnati Gas Light and Coke Company," the city of Cincinnati began to implement streetlights in 1837. Today, perhaps 1,172 gas lights are in place in thirteen of the city's neighborhoods, as well as in certain portions of Columbia Township and Sycamore Township, the oldest of which date back to 1843.






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