In 1867 Henry Probasco, a leading Cincinnati hardware merchant, offered to the city a fountain in memory of his business partner and brother-in-law Tyler Davidson. The city accepted and agreed to provide perpetual maintenance. The city also decided to construct an esplanade for the fountain. The original plan was to place the fountain on 5th Street between Walnut and Main (now known as government square). It was then decided to build it one block west between Vine and Walnut because it was wider and uncluttered by streetcar tracks. The problem was that this area was the site of the 5th Street Market which had been there since 1827. There were 54 very smelly stalls of firms engaged in the butchering trade. These butchers refused to move. The market consisted of a block long shed supported by brick pillars with about 50 entrances around the perimeter. The steeply pitched shingled roof had a cupola and bell on the west end. This area had been denounced by the Board of Health and most citizens considered it a disgusting place. The city declared it would not renew the leases of the stalls and would not issue new ones. The butchers sought an injunction to prevent their removal with the case going all the way to the Supreme Court of Ohio. They lost their appeal, but they would still not move, demanding a $500 bonus as compensation. At 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4, 1870, City Council voted 25 to 8 to demolish the old market. Taking no chances on delays the butchers might employ, the city had already notified the street cleaning department and the police to have their men ready. They went into immediate action. Ninety men armed with axes, picks, crowbars, and ladders appeared at both ends of the market space. Backed by 50 policemen within 43 minutes they had the roof off, and in 3 hours the market was nothing but rubble. Spectators, wildly cheering as each section came crashing down, carted off the lumber for firewood. The astounded butchers were eventually compensated for the surprise demolition. Each one was paid $500. This added $27,000 to the cost of the fountain.
These are not postcards
Lincoln's campaign speech 1859 One of the earliest known photos
Compare the artist's sketch with the photograph taken a few years later
On October 6, 1871 there were at least 20,000, perhaps as
many as 50,000 people that had come to see the ceremonies as the fountain was
unveiled. The governor of Ohio Rutherford B. Hayes, (later President of the
United States), was one of the many speakers. The only thing that marred the gala festivities was
caused by one Walter Douglas, a builder (at least that is what he called
himself). He was hired to erect the ranks of temporary benches that were to be
placed on the sidewalks on the north and south sides of the square, and on the
esplanade itself. They were 4 rows high and were to accommodate 4000 people.
Their construction left much to be desired, for they were basically nothing more
than long unsupported planks propped up and nailed in a very flimsy manner.
One by one the tiers began collapsing in huge clouds of dust. First the seats on the south side crashed to the ground, and then very shortly after that the ones on the north side did likewise, then the ones seating the members of the city council collapsed. By this time everyone had deserted their seats and so when the last section on the south side fell, there was nobody on it. No one was killed but there were plenty of broken bones. It has been said that the great mass of people who were further away from the festivities and probably could not hear what any of the speakers were saying found all this very amusing. Needless to say Mr. Douglas was never offered another contract from the city. You will find out about the fountain itself on the next page.
1871 Invitation To The Fountain Dedication Program & Dedication Ode
Fountain Unveiling Fountain in 1872
The main buildings you will see in these cards will be the Carew building in the background. Constructed in 1889 it stood until 1929 when it was razed for the building of the Carew Tower. This structure built by Joseph T Carew was renown for its hydraulic elevators, atrium on the top floor, and spacious offices. In some cards you will not see this building. The only explanation I can come up with is they used a very old photo taken before it was built. I don't think they took it out because the first horizontal card is a real photo. The next card is a colorized version of it. Of course it could have been removed to put more emphasis on the fountain. The first image is a non-postcard photograph of this building.
During the era these cards were made you will see the Mabley & Carew building on the right. It occupied the northeast corner of 5th & Vine from 1881 until the Carew tower was finished. They moved into that building and stayed until 1962 when they moved to the former Rollman's building across the street on the northwest corner. You will also, of course, see the Rollman's Building in some of these images. When you get to the next page, (cards looking east), you will see another Mabley & Carew building in the middle of the block on the north side. This was their first store which they opened in 1877 until the larger 5 story building replaced it. By the way in case you were wondering if the Carew who built the Carew Building is the same Carew that is in Mabley & Carew the answer is yes.
This is a German card
Night Scene 1916 RPPC View Another Night Scene
Something to break the monotony
Night version and Day version Glen Tracy Drawing
Not a postcard
Hospitality House War Bonds Booth
The Cincinnati Hospitality House was created and maintained by the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was operated by a trained staff, supplemented by volunteer workers. You could buy your WWII War Bonds and other items at this booth set up on the east end of the esplanade.
FOR CARDS OF THE FOUNTAIN LOOKING EAST