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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Sooty Cincy: 1905

Sooty Cincy: 1905

Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1905. "Government Square." Convenient one-stop shopping for all your flyscreen and stained-glass needs. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

One weird looking car

If you look toward the center of the photo at the corner of the building on the right, you can see what looks like a lone car parked on the road. It appears to have fenders in the front, but the back shows no tires, per se.

[It's a steamroller. - Dave]

Long-lived Peebles

Peebles Department Store is still around. We have one here in Southern Maryland. Pretty good record for a department store in these perilous financial climes.

A Street Car Named Patterson

No, it just doesn't do. Perhaps I'll find inspiration in N'ahlenz.

Government Square

That's the old post office on the right. It was later replaced by a newer post office. I remember as a kid in the 40s and 50s how the candy and tobacco stands in the P. O. were run by blind guys, probably vets.

Government Square eventually became the downtown hub for gas buses to the suburbs. They would pull into spaces in the center of 5th Street at a 45 degree angle to load and unload.

I left Cincinnati in 1967 and never looked back. Great chili, bad baseball team.

Maintenance of Way

underway in Cincy on this day, or so it appears. The crew lower left perhaps neatly organized their piles of disrupted street bed and have loaded their tools up for the day, or in preparation to move farther down the way, more likely, for by the length of the shadows it's perhaps between 2pm and 3pm. Also, my guess is that the motorman of the trolley "Patterson" is throwing or has thrown the switch with that curious stick just where he has stopped his streetcar precisely short. How I would love to have seen the light bulbs on those signs alight at dusk.

Two Streetcar Poles

Look at the streetcars - they've got two poles. Normally, that's only something you find on trolley buses because they run on rubber tires and can't use rails for the ground side of the power supply the way streetcars usually do.

The situation in Cincinnati was different because of a legal dispute between the phone company and the streetcar company, where the phone company claimed that their lines were being damaged by an electrolytic reaction caused by the streetcars' ground return current was leaking from the tracks through the ground to the telephone equipment. The result was the street railway company had to string up a second wire to provide a dedicated return path to the trolley power substations to avoid the possibility of electrolytic damage to phone company equipment. And that's how Cinci streetcars ended up being equipped with dual poles.

Wide Gauge and Seeing Double.

Blind Motorman, indeed!

He is getting ready to 'throw the switch' in front of the car with a long switch iron.

Note the TWO trolley poles on the streetcars, one wire carried the current, the other returned the electricity to the power house after it had passed thru the car motors, heaters and electric lights..

Most streetcar, Interurban and electric railways used the rails as the return, with only one trolley pole or pantograph and one wire.

The single-wire and track system of return could cause corrosion by electrolysis of water, sewer and gas pipes if the electricity migrated to them instead of the rails.

This also affected telephone operation when these were one-wire only.

I am NOT a Cincinnati expert, but, as I recall some of their street railways were WIDER in track gauge than the standard steam railway gauge of 4 feet 8 1/2 inches.

(Same for Toronto, which still uses streetcars.)

Thank You!

Wonderful photo, AS ALWAYS!

Love those signs!

Another great view of a cluttered cityscape, but as usual, the signs are fascinating. The one at left for C.C. Riordan reminded me there are a number of Riordans in southwest Ohio, including the current Dayton city manager. It is pronounced "Reardan" in this area. I also like the reversed sign at left above for the Peters Arms and Sporting Goods Co. And, of course, the Nonpareil with rooms at 20 and 25 cents!

Mabley and Carew

I worked for Mabley and Carew in the early to mid 60s in a building located on the NW corner of 5th and Vine streets. I believe the building I worked in was the replacement for the building shown.

The buildings have been gone for a while now and the site where I worked has been replaced with a whole new series of stores and restaurants.

The fountain in the middle of 5th Street is the Tyler Davidson Fountain. The buildings on the right of the fountain are gone and converted into a plaza for the fountain where it is currently located. Anyone who remembers the TV show "WKRP in Cincinnati" may remember the fountain from the opening of the show.

The building across the street to the left of Mabley and Carew with the clock tower has also been replaced with the Carew Tower building, at 47 stories it is the tallest building on the Cincinnati Skyline. Its height will soon be eclipsed just slightly by the new American Financial building that is almost completed on 2nd Street.

It was a better time

When no one thought twice about a blind person driving a streetcar.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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