Friday, July 29, 2011

Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Planetarium

The Museum of Natural History dates back to 1818 when it was founded by Dr. Daniel Drake. It was around that time when John James Audubon worked for the museum as a taxidermist and created exhibits. The museum was located in several different places around Cincinnati until the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Planetarium was built in 1957 on Gilbert Avenue next to the Elsinore Tower. The museum and planetarium was designed by architect Walter W. Cordes of Cordes & Pressler & Associates.

The natural history museum contains a large collection of shells, minerals, fossils, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, and pre-historic artifacts. It also contains a life-like cavern, an ice age exhibit, a replica wilderness trail, and a display depicting the life of early Native Americans. The planetarium had exhibits on the solar system and the night sky. It would feature special events such as laser light shows.

In 1990, the natural history museum moved to the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal. Many of the exhibits that were at the museum in Eden Park are still on display in its new home. By 2004, the old museum and planetarium were destroyed and the new WCPO-TV studio was built in its place. The sculptures of the mammoths (shown above) that were once outside of the museum can now be found in front of the Cincinnati Museum Center's Geier Collections & Research Center on the corner of West Fifth Street and Gest.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Weld Peck Federal Building

The 10-story, Modernism style building was built in 1964 and designed by architecture firms Potter, Tyler, Martin & Roth and Harry Hake & Partners. In 1984 it was named after John Weld Peck, an Ohio judge who served on the U.S. District Court for 5 years and the U.S. Court of Appeals for 27 years. It is the areas offices for many federal agencies including the Federal Executive Board, National Labor Relations Board, FBI, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The building is made of glass and limestone and features an aluminum sculpture on the side of the building created by Marshall Fredericks titled, “American Victory Eagle”. Inside the building is a mosaic by artist Charley Harper titled, “American Wildlife” or, “Space for all Species” and depicts over 100 species of animals found in the United States.

John Weld Peck Federal Building
550 Main Street, Downtown

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

United States Post Office

The main branch of the United States Post Office was originally in the Potter Stewart United States Courthouse building, which was built in 1939 and a post office was located on that site since 1874. The post office eventually moved to the Dalton Avenue location that was primarily a mailing annex used for mail distribution.

The post office on Dalton Avenue was designed by Samuel Hannaford & Sons and opened in 1933. The interior features ornate light fixtures, bronze doors, and marble wainscoting. The exterior is an Art Deco style built with sandstone and granite with granite eagles above the main entrance. The post office even has a tunnel between it and Union Terminal to handle mail that arrived by train.

United States Post Office
1623 Dalton Avenue, Queensgate

That 70's Tour

While I was out exploring the city I started to notice Queen City Tour signs where I least expected them. The signs did not follow the route of the tour that I knew but did lead me to some great sights around the city.

After a little research and a trip to the main branch of the library downtown, I found the original guide and map from the first Queen City Tour when it started in 1970. The 1970 Queen City Tour has a different route and while both the 1970 and 1996 tours have similar stops, there are several differences between the two. The 1970 tour does not cross the river into Kentucky. Instead, the tour goes out from the downtown area into several of the neighborhoods. Just like the 1996 tour, many of the sights still exist while others have been lost in time, some have moved and a few are still around, but have changed in name or purpose.

Over the next several months I will be covering the stops on the 1970 tour that I have not yet covered and at the end I will put together a guide and a map. Hope you find it interesting!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ault Park

The park was established in 1911 and named after Levi Addison Ault, former park commissioner and the land was a gift from Levi and his wife Ida. The park covers over 220 acres of land that includes nature trails, play areas, and picnic areas. The park also features a lookout point with great views of the area around the Little Miami River and Lunken Airport. The beautiful Ault Park pavilion was built in 1930. The Italian Renaissance style pavilion designed by Fechheimer & Ihorst and has tall columns, a cascading water feature, and grand stairs leading up to it. From the top of the pavilion there are great views of the surrounding area. At the bottom of the pavilion are large manicured lawns and mature trees lining the gardens.

The gardens were originally designed by George Kessler and later modified by Albert D. Taylor, both well-known landscape architects. Over time the gardens have changed and a section features a rose garden while another is filled with gardens maintained by volunteers through the Adopt-A-Plot program.

Ault Park is host to many weddings and events like summer dances, Concours d’Elegance, Fourth of July fireworks, and the Reggae Run.

Ault Park
3600 Observatory Avenue, Mt. Lookout

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hyde Park Baptist Church

The Hyde Park Baptist Church is the oldest continuous congregation in the Northwest Territory first being established in 1790 as the Columbia Baptist Church The church was started by Steven Gano, a surgeon in the Revolutionary War. The original church was built in 1792 on the grounds where the Pioneer Cemetery is located.

Due to flooding in the area, the congregation moved the church to Duck Creek and Edwards Road in 1808 and became the Duck Creek Baptist Church. Due to a shift in population, the church moved to Mt. Lookout in 1875.

By 1907, the church moved to Hyde Park where they worship today.

Hyde Park Baptist Church
3460 Michigan Avenue, Hyde Park

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mt. Echo Park

The 84-acre park was established in 1908 and got its name from the cliffs and the echoes they produce. The park has many amazing features to it like the overlook and the spectacular views of downtown, the Ohio River, and hills of Kentucky. There is also the beautifully arched pavilion built in 1929, the stone walls built by the WPA during the Great Depression, a historic picnic shelter, a playground, hiking trails, and plenty of lawn space for a picnic.

Mt. Echo Park is another one of the great parks that can be found in Cincinnati.

Mt. Echo Park
381 Elberon Avenue, East Price Hill

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Provident Building

This 11-story building was built in 1909 and was the home of Provident Savings Bank & Trust Company, which later was called Provident Bank. It is a Renaissance Revival style building designed by architects Hake & Kuck who also designed the Cincinnati Bell Building and Cincinnati Masonic Center. The building is designated a local historic landmark.

Provident Bank was purchased by National City Bank in 2004 and in 2008 National City was acquired by PNC Bank.

Provident Building
632 Vine Street, Downtown

Presbyterian-Fulton Cemetery

Presbyterian-Fulton Cemetery is made up of three cemeteries – the Presbyterian Cemetery, Fulton Cemetery, and Fulton Mechanick's Cemetery. The cemetery dates back to 1795 and at least six Revolutionary War soldiers and many pioneers of the area are buried here. The cemetery is possibly the burial place of Revolutionary War soldier Sergeant William Brown, who was awarded the first Purple Heart from General George Washington.

The town of Fulton was the area between Columbia Parkway and the Ohio River and is now part of East End. In the 1900’s, Fulton was a large steamboat-building town.

For years this cemetery was neglected and overgrown with weeds and brush. The only access to the cemetery was by crossing the railroad tracks that run through the area. With the work of the Fulton Pioneer Cemetery Committee the cemetery has been cleaned up and some of the destroyed grave markers have been replaced with new ones. With the recent addition of the Ohio River Trail, there is now easy access to the cemetery.

The Presbyterian-Fulton Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Presbyterian-Fulton Cemetery
Dumont and Carrel Street, Columbia-Tusculum

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ohio River Trail

The Ohio River Trail is one of the latest additions to the Cincinnati riverfront. It is a mixed use hike/bike trail which will extend from one side of the city to the other. The trail offers scenic views of the Ohio River, the surrounding hills, and the downtown skyline. It will wind its way through historic parts of town and several parks.

At the time of this writing, several sections of the trail have been completed with the most recent being the trail which links the Lunken Airport trail loop to the Ohio River trail to Carrel Street and out to the Schmidt Playfields and Riverview East Academy. Along this newly created part of the trail is the Carrel Street station, a remodeled freight transfer terminal, which serves as a resting place (shown above).

The other section that has been completed is the trail which runs through Bi-Centennial Commons at Sawyer Point and Friendship Park. This section of the trail will soon connect to the new Riverfront Park which is under construction. The newly created park will have a Bike & Mobility Center which will give bicycle commuters access to bike parking, lockers, showers, and a repair center.

In the future the trail will connect with the Little Miami Trail. To the east along the river, the trail will connect with the recently completed trail section that runs beyond Lunken Airport and past Coney Island, Riverbend, River Downs, and Kellogg Park all the way to New Richmond.

To the west, future plans call for a trail that follows the Ohio River all the way out to Indiana.

There are plans to extend a trail through Kentucky via the Purple People Bridge as well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hamilton County Fairgrounds

The Hamilton County Fair was originally known as the Carthage Fair. The fair was created by the Hamilton County Agricultural Society and in 1853; the 30-acre site in Carthage became its permanent home. The Hamilton County Fair has been held for over 150 years each year. The only time that the fair was cancelled was in 1861 and 1862 due to the Civil War. In 1918, the fairground was used as a training ground during World War I.

The Hamilton County Fair is held each year in August and starts off with a parade and opening ceremony. Like most fairs, you will find arts and crafts, farm animals, carnival rides and games, art, food, and shows. The fairgrounds also has several permanent displays like the milking parlor, a petting zoo, the days of yesteryear exhibit featuring old machinery and appliances dating back to the 1800’s and 1900’s and a display from the Hamilton County Park District. The fairground is also used for a variety of events throughout the year.

Hamilton County Fairgrounds
7801 Anthony Wayne Avenue, Carthage

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Riverbend Music Center

The official name for Riverbend is the Hulbert Taft, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts named after the founder of Taft Broadcasting, which is the company that donated the land. The center is situated along the banks of the Ohio River next to Coney Island and has two entertainment venues.

The largest venue is the J. Ralph Corbett Pavilion named after the founder of the NuTone doorbell company. J. Ralph Corbett was an avid supporter of the arts and donated money toward the construction of the center. The pavilion was built in 1984 and designed by Michael Graves. It seats approximately 5,000 people in the covered pavilion area and 10,000 on the lawn. The pavilion is a tent-like design and features billboard statues that represent musical muses. There is an arcing pergola bordering the lawn with concessions and facilities below. The PNC Pavilion was added in 2008 and is a smaller venue, which seats 4,100 people.

The Riverbend Music center features national acts of all genres throughout the summer as well as performances from the Cincinnati Pops and Symphony Orchestra.

Riverbend Music Center
6295 Kellogg Avenue, California

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rapid Run Park

This 50-acre park was once called, “Lick Run Park” after the Native Americans and settlers who traveled through the area. The park features a stone shelter facing a shallow lake and contains a playground, picnic areas, hiking trails, and baseball fields. It is another one of the great parks in the Cincinnati Park District.

Rapid Run Park
4548 Rapid Run Parkway, West Price Hill

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Historical Marker: John James Audubon in Cincinnati

Location: Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, Queensgate

Incline District

General Rees E. Price invested in the land in which he is named after and his son, William Price continued to develop the area and built the incline in 1874. The Price Hill incline was an extension of Eighth Street from the city basin up to the top of Price Hill. The eastern terminus of the incline was at Eighth Street and Glenway Avenue and the western terminus was about 350 feet above the base at Eighth Street and Matson Place. The incline was a double track and 800 feet in length. The difference between the Price Hill incline and others like the Mt. Adams incline was that the Price Hill one did not carry streetcars. The Price Hill incline started with steam engines and in 1928 converted to electric. By 1943, the incline fell into disrepair and was discontinued. At the top of the hill is Incline Plaza (shown above) – the exact point where the incline reached the top of Price Hill.

The Incline District of Price Hill is the area that lays within a ½ mile of Price Avenue. The goal of the Incline District project is to create a walk able community at the top of Price Hill with a neighborhood business district complete with shops, restaurants, and businesses as well as residential space – all with great views of the city. At this time there are a lot of activities at the top of Price Hill with new apartments and improvements seen throughout.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Terrace Plaza

Built in 1948, the Terrace Plaza hotel was designed by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and developed by John J. Emery Jr. who also developed the Netherland Plaza Hotel in the Carew Tower. One of the senior designers was Natalie de Blois, which makes the Terrace Plaza one of the first hotels designed by a woman. This Modernist building was also one of the first buildings in the world with central air conditioning. This Modernist building received national attention for its design and featured space for smaller shops, a JC Penney and Bond department stores, and a 324-room hotel. The first seven stories are made up of the department stores and are windowless mainly for the central air conditioning.

The hotel boasted several restaurants – the Plaza hotel cafeteria, the Skyline Restaurant, Plaza Café, and the most famous of them – The Gourmet Room. At the time of operation, the Gourmet Room was one of three 5 star restaurants in the city with Pigall’s and The Maisonette being the others. The Gourmet Room sat atop the Terrace Plaza hotel in a small round glass metal beam structure. The restaurant seated about 45 people and gave almost a 360-degree view of downtown and had a wall lined with a mural by Joan Miró. The Gourmet Room closed in 1992.

The department stores closed by 1977 and since then the space where they once operated has been converted to office space and has been used for many different things. The hotel has operated under different owners since it began but now stands vacant. Only street level retail is open at this time.

The artwork from Saul Steinberg, Alexander Calder, Joan Miró that was once on display in the hotel can now be found at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Terrace Plaza
16 West Sixth Street, Downtown