Old Images of Cincinnati, Ohio: Historic Photos & Film

Categorised as Ohio
Old photo of the steamboats at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken in 1850
Old photo of the steamboats at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken in 1850. From the archives of the Smithsonian Institution, uploaded to Flikr.

Glimpse history through fascinating old images of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Steamboats at Cincinnati

We start first with an illustration of Cincinnati’s busy riverfront, because it’s just two years before the photo shown above.

Cincinnati Ohio 1848
View of Cincinnati, Ohio from Covington, Kentucky, drawn from nature by E. Whitefield; c.1848

Next we have a photo of the same riverfront scene, taken sometime around 1866. Because it is small, I’ve created four closeup images from it. They are a bit fuzzy, but show a lot more detail you might otherwise have missed.

Old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866
Old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866. From the archives of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Closeup 1:

Closeup of an old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866
Closeup of an old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866. From the archives of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Closeup 2:

Closeup of an old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866
Closeup of an old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866. From the archives of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Closeup 3:

Closeup of an old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866
Closeup of an old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866. From the archives of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Closeup 4:

Closeup of an old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866
Closeup of an old photo of the riverfront at Cincinnati, Ohio, taken around 1866. From the archives of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Ingall’s Building

Cincinnati’s 1903 architectural wonder, the Ingall’s Building, was the first reinforced concrete skyscraper to be built anywhere in the world and led the movement of concrete high rise buildings.

Its historic status means since the 1970s it has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2021, the Ingall’s building became the Courtyard by Marriott Cincinnati Downtown.

Old photo of Ingall's Building in Cincinnati, Ohio, taken between 1903 and 1906
Old photo of Ingall’s Building in Cincinnati, Ohio, taken between 1903 and 1906. From the archives of the Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Because there is so much extra detail down at street level, I’ve created these two closeup images from the Ingall’s Building photo.

Two closeups of the old photo of Ingall's Building in Cincinnati, Ohio, taken between 1903 and 1906
Two closeups of the old photo of Ingall’s Building in Cincinnati, Ohio, taken between 1903 and 1906. From the archives of the Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Cincinnati’s 1913 Floods

Between March 23 and 26 in 1913, several days of record-breaking heavy rain caused several rivers in the central and eastern United States to burst their banks, flooding vast areas, creating hundreds of million dollars of damage, and killing perhaps as many as 650 people, with 470 of those being in Ohio alone.

The event was termed the Great Flood of 1913.

Rapid flooding along Mill Creek, originating in Southeast Butler County, led to areas of Cincinnati finding itself underwater.

Old photo of the flooding at Cincinnati, Ohio, in March 1913
Old photo of the flooding at Cincinnati, Ohio, in March 1913. From the archives of the Bains News Service at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Old photo of the flooding at Cincinnati, Ohio, in March 1913
Old photo of the flooding at Cincinnati, Ohio, in March 1913. From the archives of the Bains News Service at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Old photo of the flooding at Cincinnati, Ohio, in March 1913
Old photo of the flooding at Cincinnati, Ohio, in March 1913. From the archives of the Bains News Service at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Cincinnati’s Car Strike 1931

On May 10, 1913, the New York Times printed the headline “CINCINNATI CAR STRIKE ON.; Trolley Men Quit and Power House Workers Vote to Join Them”.

On May 13, 1913, the same newspaper printed the headline “CAR UNION REJECTS PEACE.; Won’t End Cincinnati Strike Without Recognition of Itself”.

Old photo of a car strike taking place in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1913
Old photo of a car strike taking place in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1913. From the archives of the Bains News Service at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

According to the archives of the California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, the Sunday Mercury and Herald printed a headline on May 18, 1913, stating “NONUNION CREWS IN CINCINNATI BEATEN Rioting Continuous During the Day in Streetcar Strike, Three Badly Hurt, Mayor Files Petition Asking Appointment of Receiver for Traction Company”.

Here is an extract of the article:

“CINCINNATI, May 17. The streetcar strike situation is apparently beyond control of the local police. Mayor Hunt sent a request to the governor and Adjutant General Wood today for militia.

Governor Cox notified Mayor Hunt, of Cincinnati today that he did not think the situation there at this time was as sufficiently serious to warrant the sending of troops.

The first serious trouble of the day occurred when an attempt was made to start cars from the Brighton barns. Two cars had just left the barns when a large crowd surrounded them, pulling the crew from the cars and beat and kicked them. One of the imported men is believed to have been seriously injured.

Four cars were completely wrecked and left standing in the streets and the traction company had been forced to abandon all efforts to operate cars in the western section of the town while only a few cars were to be seen running through the resident district of Avondale and Walnut Hills.

The traction company at noon suspended its attempt to operate cars and all that were running in the morning were called into their barns.

Cox’ Reply Is a Rebuke.

In a rebuking telegram to Mayor Hunt of Cincinnati, Governor Cox refused today to call out the militia to quell disturbances in the Cincinnati streetcar strike. The telegram was in answer to a request that troops be ordered to the scene. “In view of your having placed no policemen on the cars, we do not believe the statement made that you have exhausted your resources, predicated on the facts” said the governor’s telegram.

Mayor Hunt had wired the governor early in the day: “There Is an imperative need for troops. We have exhausted our resources”

Mayor Hunt announced that he would have a petition filed In the common pleas court here this afternoon, asking that a receiver for the Cincinnati Traction company be appointed. The allegation will be that this action was necessary to protect the interests of the public.

Following the receipt of the telegram from Governor Cox, the mayor was not notified that a ruling by Attorney General Hogan held that it was in his power under the law to call out all the militia in this county without the sanction of the governor. Only three companies composed in all of 145 men are located here and the mayor dismissed the suggestion that he use these with the statement: “This force would be entirely inadequate”.

In the rioting an Elberon car was attacked at Fifth and Central avenues and partially wrecked. The conductor and motorman were severely beaten, and the quick work of the police in rescuing them probably saved their lives.

They were hurried to the hospital, where their condition is pronounced critical.

One hundred of the men imported here by the company and housed at the Avondale carbarn after hearing of attacks in other parts of the city immediately opened negotiations with the strikers and agreed to leave town if given safe escort. This is the first break in the ranks of these men.

Old Photos of Cincinnati

The old photos of Cincinnati taken between 1900 and 1915 that are showcased in this video take us back to a time when ladies in floor length skirts, horses and carts, and streetcars wandered through the Downtown streets.

Old photos of Cincinnati(Ohio)1900-1915 – oldstuff4all

River Race 1916

Just 25 seconds of film footage show historic images of a river race that took place at Cincinnati in 1916, with the Ohio Valley Championship.

It’s a great look at the old fashioned boats which floated about on the river at that time.

Cincinnati river race (1916) – British Pathé on YouTube

Winter Fire 1920

With temperatures below zero, Cincinnati’s firefighters had great trouble dealing with a major blaze in the winter of 1920.

There’s a great shot of a tug on the river, with firemen on board pointing their hoses at the tea and spice warehouse fire.

The walk up the stairs being flooded with water just looks lethal!

Fire In Winter Cincinnati (1920) – British Pathé on YouTube

Paper Collapses Building 1930

In 1930, a four-storey warehouse collapsed in Cincinnati, said to be caused by overloading tons of rolls of paper inside.

It doesn’t look like much paper until you see them men standing besides the rolls.

“It’s The Last Straw Etc…” (1930) – British Pathé on YouTube

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Categorised as Ohio