Historical Collections of Ohio pgs 791-797
Historical Collections of Ohio: Pages 791-797
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~ pg. 791 ~

Literary Symposium on Cincinnati

In the New England Magazine for September, 1888, under the head of “Illustrated Literary Symposium of Cincinnati,” was a series of ten articles by nine authors of the city.  They were “Prehistoric Cincinnati,” by M. F. FORCE;” “Cincinnati Historical and Descriptive,: by W.H. VENABLE; “Education,” by the same; “Newspapers and Literature,” by George Mortimer ROE; and “the Art Museum and the Art Academy,” by A. T. GOSHORN; “Decorative Art,” by Benn PITMAN; “History Of Cincinnati Expositions,” by W. H. CHAMBERLAIN; “Clubs and Club Life,” by Chas. Theodore GREVE, and “Political Reminiscences of Cincinnati,” by Job. E. STEVENSON.  The object of these articles was to present to the public in the centennial year of Ohio’s settlement a picture of the progress of the great city from its beginning, with a view of its present characteristics.  Nothing can be so well adapted for our purpose to accomplish the same end as their review, with extracts, abridgments, itemized facts.  We begin with

Prehistoric  Cincinnati.

Before the advent of the white man the “Mound Builders” had possession here.  When the whites first came the plateau extending from near the present line of Third street to the hills was literally covered with low lines of embankments, and an almost endless variety and numbers of figures.  Among them were several mounds, one large mound on the bluff at the intersection of Third and Main streets; the great mound at the intersection of Fifth and Mound streets, which, if mounds were really used for watch-towers and beacons, communicated by means of a system of such, not only with the little valley of Duck creek lying behind the Walnut Hills, but also with the valleys of both the Miami rivers.

Among the various articles found in these works were some very interesting, especially that from the great mound at the intersection of Fifth and Mound streets.  That was in incised stone known to all archaeologists as “the Cincinnati tablet.”

There were, in the year 1794, stumps of oak trees at the corner of Third and Main streets, showing the mound was over 400 years old.  The cite of Cincinnati was temporarily occupied by bands of the Miami Confederacy.

Cincinnati, Historical and Descriptive.

Dr. Daniel DRAKE, in his “Picture of Cincinnati,” published in 1815, called it the “metropolis of the Miami country.”  In 1824 its importance as a trade-centre became such that merchants distinguished it as the “Tyre of the West.”  The unclassic name of “Porkopolis” clung to the place for many years until Chicago surpassed it in the pork industry.  The poetical appellation, “Queen City,” was proudly worn by this Ohio valley metropolis, and recognized gracefully in Longfellow’s praiseful song—

“To the Queen of the West
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the beautiful river.”

The latest designation, for “Paris of America,” the city earned from its reputation as a pleasure resort and a seat of the polite arts.

A majority of the early settlers came from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  Their religion was as austere as that of the Puritans, but not so aggressive. The New England and Virginia forces came only a little later with there powerful influences.  The history of society presents no chapter more interesting than that which describes the interaction of ideas in Cincinnati from the close of the war of 1812-1815 to the end of the civil war.  The three elements of population, and we might say of civilization, northern, central and southern,

met together on the shores of the Ohio, and Cincinnati became a cauldron of boiling opinions, a crucible of ignited ideas.  There was a time when Southern alkali seemed to prevail over the Northern oxide, and the aristocratic young city was dominated by cavalier sentiment; but, the irrepressible Yankee was ever present with his propensity to speak out in town-meeting. One of the significant factors of culture was the class that organized “New England Society,” to which belonged Bellamy STORR, Lyman BEECHER, Calvin STOWE, Salmon P. CHASE and others.

All sorts of questions theological, political, social came up for radical discussion in early Cincinnati. The foundations were taken up and examined. Every sentiment an every ism had its chance to be heard. Several new sects were differentiated. Scepticism, by the powerful voice of Robert OWEN, challenger faith as held by Alexander CAMPBELL; Protestantism encountered Romanism in hot debate. Religious controversies became involved with political (for if we dig deep we shall find roots of all thought entangled together), and theoretical differences became practical issues at the polls.

When the tide of emigration was swollen with foreign blood then arose the “Know Nothing” movement, directed by powerful newspapers in Cincinnati and Louisville. The discussion of the status of foreigners was radical, and dealt with the primary rights of man, and with the most essential functions of government, education, and society.  The relations of Church and State were considered.

The German population form a most important element, enough to make a large city—more than a hundred thousand. It is liberty-living, and distinguished thrift and intelligence. The Germans are devoted patrons of education and the arts, and especially music. German is taught in the public schools. The Irish element is also large and powerful.

Cincinnati, by  the accident of her geographical  position, became the focus of Abolitionism, and also of the opposite sentiment. In this city BIRNEY was mobbed; PHILLIPS was egged, colored men persecuted. In this city “Uncle Tom’s Cabin
was planned, and here the Republican party was born.  When  the war came on Cincinnati did not waver. All sects and all parties foreign, and native, followed the Union flag. As soon as the  war was over  the citizens resumed their discus-sions. The Queen City is the arena of wrestling  thoughts. Therefore it has become a city of practical toleration. Extreme radicalism  lives side by side with extreme conservatism. Jew and Gentile are at peace.  Orthodoxy fights heterodoxy, but  each concedes to the others right to exist. The people like to read INGERSOLL and GLADSTONE. The Prohibitionists have a strong party here, and the drinkers of  beer have a hundred gardens  on the hills. In politics, Republi-cans and Democrats are pretty equally divided  and there is a lively class of  “scratchers” in each party.  All things considered there seems to be good ground for the opinion often expressed by enthusiastic Cincinnatians that their city is the freest city on the globe. This is a bold claim, but it would be difficult to name a city in which the rights of the private individual are less interfered with than they are in the Queen City. This status of its people is the best for an ultimate true result. It is only  by agitation and experience that tile race anywhere can advance ; and nothing is a final settlement until it is settled right.

The tract known as the Miami Purchase, time north shore of the Ohio, was first settled at Cincinnati and Columbia (this last now is the city limits) in 1788. Surrounded by a region of unsurpassed fertility and located on a stream which floated the principle commerce of the West, Cincinnati in a few decades naturally took the leading rank. The farm products Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, whether in the form of grain or live-stock poured into her markets. The steam--boat interest  was vast and far-reaching, and until after the middle of the century Cincinnati profited greatly not only by river commerce but by boat-building. The river landing was then a scene of bustle and business, with the loading and unloading of goods and the movement of steamers; its varying stages and phases



were in everybody’s thoughts and talks. “How’s the river to-day? Good stage of water, eh?”

In the period of its early life it was largely visited by foreign travelers, for it was regarded as the brightest, most interesting place in the West—as Volney, Ashe, Basil Hall, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Capt. Marryat, Harriet Martineau, Chas. Dickens and Mrs. TROLLOPE. The latter, with her four children, resided here two years, from 1828 to 1830, and lost thousands in what she named ‘‘The Bazaar,” which came to be known as ‘‘Trollope’s Folly” it stood on Third street, just east of Broadway. Among its attractions was a splendid ball-room, long the pride of the city.

The civil war wrought miracles in the development of Cincinnati. Its manufacturing enterprises have developed prodigiously, property values multiplied and large individual fortunes accumulated.  A population of fully half million dwell within a radius of ten miles, and the city proper has a third of a million.  A wide and rich field of traffic and investments has of late years opened in the South by means of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad, and also by that through the Virginias by the Chesapeake and Ohio.

The Cincinnati Southern Railway was built at a total cost of $20,000,000, and runs to Chattanooga, a distance of 336 miles, into the heart of the South. It was leased in 1880 until the close of the century to the Erlanger Syndicate. It was built by the city by an issue of its bonds nearly to the entire amount, which being regarded as an abuse of its corporate rights, the construction being even outside of the State, met with strong opposition in the courts. The act was sustained, its prospective immense importance to the well-being of the city overcoming all adverse arguments of illegality.

Freight by it consists largely of live-stock, coal, iron, stone, lumber, bark, flour, whisky, turpentine, grain, cotton, hemp, fruit, tobacco, salt provisions and beer. In 1883 it carried six hundred thousand passengers and earned nearly two and a half millions in freight.

The river trade is still very great, especially in coal; its weekly consumption in the city is about a million of bushels.  Freight is largely conveyed up and down the river by powerful steamboats with fleets of barges. About one-quarter of the imports and exports of Cincinnati are moved by water.

Cincinnati is a composite city, an aggregation of towns once separate, which, however, retain their old names, as Walnut Hills, Columbia, Pendleton, etc., and just outside lie some charming villages which practically enjoy the benefits of the city, yet control their own local affairs by a mayor and aldermen, as Clifton and Avondale. Then, on the Kentucky side of the Ohio, are Covington and Newport, with the Licking dividing them, and Bellevue, Dayton and Ludlow. Several bridges connect Cincinnati with the Ohio, among them the beautiful suspension bridge to Covington, completed in 1866 by the engineer, ROEBLING, at a cost of $1,800,000. It is 103 feet above low water, and is the largest single span of its class in the world. The towers over which the gigantic cables pass are 1,057 feet apart, are 230 feet in height, and thus are higher, and each contain more stone, than the Bunker Hill Monument. The others are pier bridges, and built to accommodate railroads, viz.: the Cincinnati Southern Railroad, the Louisville Short Line Railroad, and the Chesapeake and Ohio. This last cost nearly $5,000,000, and was opened January 1, 1889.

Cincinnati now extends along the Ohio ten or twelve miles, with an average width of about three miles. Forty years ago its corporate limits were only about four square miles, and with scarce an exception was the most densely populated area of its size in the Union. Above the flood plain it is built on a terrace, and then rise the hills about 400 feet higher. The canal roughly bounds a quarter long known as “Over the Rhine,” because of its great German population. In the Exposition of 1888 the canal was utilized to represent a Venetian street, and ________________________________________________________________________

was supplied with gondolas. The great Music Hall, Arbeiter Hall and Turner Hall are in that quarter.

Access to the hill-tops is by steeply graded roads, cable-car and horse-car roads, and by four inclined planes up which cars are drawn by powerful engines. The principal lines converge at Fountain Square.

The pavements are excellent, consisting of granite, asphalt and Ohio river boulders. The sewerage and underdrainage is perfect, and few cities are so healthy. Within the city limits is EDEN PARK, which is on the hills above the city plain, a pleasure-ground of 240 acres, on which is the reservoir which sup-plies the city with water. BURNET WOODS, a tract of beautiful forest of 170 acres, is also on the hills not far from the ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS, which last front on the Carthage pike. They are the largest and finest in America, and the buildings are as costly and substantial as those of the Zoological Gardens in Europe. The grounds sixty acres in extent are beautifully improved. There are about 1,000 specimens of animals and birds from all parts of the world. Frequently there are balls, picnics and special attractions, and on Thursday evening there is a fete. The gardens were opened in 1875, and since then over 300,000 has been expended.

Each of the four inclined planes leads to a famous resort. On the east is the Highland House, on the north Lookout and Bellevue, and on the west Price Hill. Thousands flock to these, especially summer evenings and on Sundays.

SPRING GROVE CEMETERY is six miles from the river, in the valley of Mill Creek, on Spring Grove avenue. It comprises 600 acres, and has had therein about 35,000 interments. Its numerous springs and groves suggested the name. It is probably the most picturesque, as it the largest cemetery the world. It is on the plan of a park, to relieve the ground of the heavy, incumbered air of a churchyard, and to present the appearance of a natural park. It is exqui-sitely laid out, with far-stretching lawns, miniature lakes and shrubbery, and ornamented with stately monuments, chapels, vaults and statues. There are about 7,000 lot-holders. The more prominent objects are the Mortuary Chapel, the Dexter Mausoleum and the Soldiers’ Monument.  Many eminent historical characters are interred here. The spot is so enchanting that it seems as an earthly Paradise rather than a home of the dead.

The great beauty of the cemetery is largely due to the late Prof. Adolph STRAUCH, landscape gardener and arborculturist, who died in 1882, and who was for many years its superintendent. “To him belongs the credit of giving to Cincinnati her renown for beautiful suburbs, with landscapes lovely as a dream.” He estimated, exclusive of funerals, that in a single year (1880) it had a quarter of a million of visitors.

The TYLER DAVIDSON FOUNTAIN is the grandest on the continent. It stands on the Esplanade in the centre of Fountain square, which is a raised stone structure twenty-eight inches in height. This square is near the centre of the city and from which distances are calculated and the car lines mostly start. The fountain is a work in bronze consisting of fifteen large figures, of which the most prominent represents a woman from whose outstretched prone hands water is falling in fine spray. She is the Spirit of Rain. The head of this figure rises forty-five feet above the street level. The fountain was designed and cast in Munich, at a cost of $200,000. The work was presented to Cincinnati in 1871 by
one of her public spirited citizens, Henry PROBASCO, a patron of arts and literature, whose magnificent  residence is one of the palaces of the suburbs.

The GOVERNMENT BUILDING is on the same street near it, and is a magnificent and convenient structure. Herein are the custom house, court rooms and post-office. It is built of gray stone, and cost $5,000,000, the most ex-pensive buildings in the city. Close by it also is the EMORY ARCADE, one of the largest in the world; extends between two streets, a passage way of 400 feet pro-tected by a glass roof. It is lined with varied shops, and is decidedly Parisian



in character. A few squares from the fountain, near the Lincoln Club House, is the colossal statue of Garfield, by NIEDHAUS, a Cincinnati artist.

The Broadway of the city is Fourth street, the aristocratic East end—where faces the once famous Longworth mansion and garden—to the railroad environed West end. Several blocks on Fourth street are solid, lofty structures. Among these is PIKE’S OPERA HOUSE and the new CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, dedicated January 30, 1889, ex-Gov. Edward F. NOYES being the orator of the occasion. It is a most striking work of art in Roman Provençal style, one of the best designs of the celebrated Richardson—its cost was over $700,000.  Two other remarkably fine structures, both designed by Hannaford, are now in the course of construction—the New City Hall and a City Armory.

Two admirable buildings of stone stand high upon a hill in Eden Park.  They are the ART MUSEUM and the ART ACADEMY, designed by McLaughlin.  The first of these cost nearly $400,000, and the other is correspondingly costly. These buildings were bestowed upon the city by the munificence of several liberal indi-viduals.  Charles W. WEST gave $150,000.  David SINTON $75,000, Joseph LONGWORTH $37,100.  Reuben SPRINGER and Julius DEXTER then subscribed largely. Over a million of dollars have been given to the museum since 1880, and the art school is the best endowed in the United States.

The Art Academy building, completed in October, 1887, was entirely the gift of David SINTON. The Art Academy is an outgrowth of the old “School of Design,” branch of the McMicken University. In 1887 it had 400 students and twelve instructors, teaching and lecturing. Excepting an initiation fee of $10, the institution is free.

The greatest pride of the city and its greatest ornament is the MUSIC HALL and the EXPOSITION BUILDING. It occupies most of a block and faces Washington Park. Its architect was McLaughlin. The building is brick and in the modern-ized Gothic style. The whole front on Elm street is 402 feet; 95 feet being given to each of the exposition buildings, and 178? feet to the music ball. The widest part of the building is 316 feet. The buildings are so arranged that they can be used separately or together, and the upper stories so they can be connected by bridges. In these buildings is the grand music hall. It will hold 8,728 persons—seat 4,228, give standing room for 3,000, while the stage will accommodate 1,500. The GREAT ORGAN is on of the largest in the world. It was built in Boston, but the artistic screen of wild cherry was designed and carved by residents of Cincinnati. It has 96 registers, 6,237 pipes,  32 bells, 42 pedal movements, and 4 keyboards of 61 notes each. Its cash cost was $32,000.

The College buildings, adjoining the magnificent Music Hall, contain forty class and study rooms, libraries, waiting-rooms, offices and a large and beautiful concert hall, “THE ODEON,” seating 1,200 persons, with a stage thoroughly equipped for operatic and dramatic performances. The Cincinnati College of Music is open throughout the year, Peter Rudolph NEFF, president; Professor SCHRADIECK, mu-sical director.

The amount of taxable property in Cincinnati is over one hundred and seventy-two millions.  Next to Chicago this is the chief pork-packing place in the world. The brewing of lager beer is an industry that ranks next to the pork business. Over twenty million gallons of beer are produced annually in its breweries; distil-ling; heavy capital is engaged in the manufacture of iron, stone and wood; other important lines of manufacture are clothing, and in food products it is the largest mart in the world. For over half a century Cincinnati has held a leading rank as a printing, publishing and lithographing centre. It has the largest school-book house in the world—that of Van Antwerp, Bragg & Co., publishers of the eclectic series of text-books.

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