Cincinnati CBD: Off the Beaten Path

Cincy CBD - Off the Beaten Path - August, 2013

At one point or another in the history of the Queen City, it’s likely one could have gotten lost in the alleys and passages of downtown.

I wonder to myself:  Were they always this deserted?  Or did they have more life?

If you search diligently, you can find certain spots that still give a sense of what life might have been like in these wayward nooks of the city.

Recently, a staffer here at PE explored an area around Morand Alley, Shillito Place and College Street.  Here’s the visual result if that trip.

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Covington, KY in 1939 by John Vachon (Part 1)

Inspired in part by cincyhisotoryluvr’s blog Digging Cincinnati History and using similar research techniques, I wanted to start some of my own. Here you’ll find the first of which I hope are entertaining and informative posts that show us what’s survived and what has not.

The Library of Congress is a treasure trove of images from yesteryear.  Exactly the kind we like here at PE.  They are the kind that document our built environment in journalistic banality but have an exquisite beauty all their own for the way they captured what has been lost and the mystery they provide.

Recently, I stumbled across three images that were new to me.  The images were taken by John Vachon while he worked as a photographer for Farm Security Administration and are probably some of the more pedestrian examples of his work.  His “Negro boy near Cincinnati” was much more remarkable as was the haunting “Worker at carbon black plant, Sunray, Texas” below.

Worker at carbon black plant, Sunray, Texas”

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Time Passages…Cincinnati Alleys in 2005

Just for fun, we thought we would haunt some of the alley ways in the Central Business District in 2005. 

Ogden Place - CBD, Cincinnati, OH

Downtown has seen several of these go by the wayside over the years as the CBD demanded that projects be constructed on a large scale. Before superblock developments alleys crossed and subdivided the larger blocks we know today. Today, they’ve been either renamed, obliterated or have become nameless delivery access for the modern towers. Some coincide with present day Skywalk’s. Gone are Egan Alley, Thorp Alley, Hatters Alley and Lawson Alley and others.

A surprising number still survive but without signals or the overhead street signs they have a way of blending into the scenery.  Ogden, Benham, Berning, L’Hommedieu to name a few.  

While nothing special, we did think it would be nice to put them here for you.

Everybody knows this one.  Ogden Place.
Ogden Place - CBD, Cincinnati, OH Ogden Place - CBD, Cincinnati, OH
A new twist?
NURFC - The Banks, Cincinnati, OH

These are unidentified.
Unidentified Alley - CBD, Cincinnati, OH   Unidentified Alley - CBD, Cincinnati, OH

Also, unidentified.
Unidentified Alley - CBD, Cincinnati, OH

Benham Alley.
Benham Alley - CBD, Cincinnati, OH

McFarland Street.  Not an alley but probably one of the lesser known CBD streets.
McFarland Street - CBD, Cincinnati, OH       

And since we know this probably came to mind when you saw the title…you’re welcome!

USquare, University of Cincinnati in 2005

These photos were never really intended for publishing, just for our own documentation purposes here at PE.  We presumed they would provide a nice record of regress/progress in the neighborhood should we have one of our common fits of nostalgia years later.  They do.

EDIT:  With the opening of USquare @ The Loop in August, 2013, these photographs become even more remarkable.
University of Cincinnati, Calhoun & McMillan

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