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Upward Mobility: 1908

Upward Mobility: 1908

Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1908. "Mount Adams Incline." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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I am suprised that no one has spotted the stowaway riding on the superstructure of the trolley carriage. Perhaps he was an employee, or is just hitchhiking.

Aount Adams Memories

I rode the Mount Adams Incline many times as a child in the 1940s growing up in Cincy. It was one of many inclines there until they got buses powerful enough to climb the seven hills.

In the summer, they used open air cars with names like the "Maketewah." Riding them up to Mount Adams at night gave passengers quite a view of lit up downtown Cincy, the Ohio River, and northern Kentucky.

Rookwood Pottery is still there and has a restaurant. Mount Adams was a fascinating place with narrow streets and great views. It had the "artsy" crowd for many years and is now home to many popular nightspots. I still have a poster framed on my wall that I bought there in 1970.

I am 44 years gone from Cincinnati but will always remember Mount Adams.

Early split level

SteamBoomer, bet they had access to the street behind too, wonder what floor, second or third, depending on how you count

On the Level

The trolleys on the incline elevators were regular streetcars -- they rolled off their tracks onto the incline platforms then rolled off at the top and continued their trip, and vice versa. The suspension went below grade to make the tracks level with the ground, the passengers never left the vehicle. Also horse and wagons were allowed on some of them in between trolleys, and we today think we are so smart, they were ingenious and no computers either.


Is this person under the trolley operating something or is it someone sneeking a ride?

The "bunker" survived

long enough to appear on Google Street View. It appears many homes in this photo had direct basement access from street level. If the bunker walls are still there it certainly would be an interesting place to visit.

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Open doors, windows and outhouses

Midafternoon on a sultry summer day. It's hot, a bit of a breeze however, enough so that some folks are opening the front (or back) door to let the breeze blow through their house.

People are busy, the rag and bone man is making his rounds.
What a time machine Shorpy can be.

The Bunker

May be an ice cellar. It has the thick walls for insulation, and the door may lead to steps.

I have been inside one from the 1700s. They are basically really small free-standing basements and they do stay cool, even on a hot day (though they are no match for today's refrigeration. They are cool, not really cold).

Given that this is Ohio, it may also double as a storm cellar.


I see this photo was taken before that concept was created.

Cold Thoughts

Whenever I see a cityscape such as this I can only imagine how cold some of these homes had to be in the winter months. It's hard enough to heat my 100 year old home now, and I can't imagine how they did it in the pre-insulation days (but then again, coal was pretty dirt cheap back then too).

Quite an Incline

It operated from 1876 to 1948.

Perfect timing

Like I said:

So Inclined

I like the carriages they built to keep the coaches in a level position, not like some other inclines where the coaches were built to the slope of the hill, with steps inside. Entrance was from multiple small platforms along the side.

[There are no entrances along the side; passengers would have gotten on at either end of the incline, or at streetcar stops along the route. - Dave]

What an interesting mix of architecture in this photo. everything from brick buildings to that great Tudor type place on the hilltop. I can't forget the 5 cent Coca-cola sign on the right.

There is a house right in the center with what looks like a bunker built in front. The "front yard" is raised and sits atop a stone wall with what looks to be a heavy iron door built into it. I wonder what that is.

Rookwood Pottery

The large building at top left is the home of Rookwood Pottery founded around 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols Storer. The building was built in the early 1890's and is still standing, used as a bar and restaurant.

[There's more on the pottery here. - Dave]

The incline may be gone

But Cinci still has those long, narrow houses decorating its hills. I think it's the most interesting-looking city in Ohio.

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