Who Knew? World's first reinforced-concrete skyscraper still stands in downtown Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - The Tri-State is home to many fascinating facts, offbeat oddities, and "I did not know that" moments. With that in mind, WCPO asks, "Who Knew?"

WHAT IS IT? The first concrete skyscraper was built in Cincinnati
WHERE CAN I SEE IT? Fourth and Vine streets, Downtown
WHO KNEW? Kent Jones, author of “Historic Downtown Cincinnati”

It’s hard to imagine a cityscape without grand towers gracing the skyline. Before there was Great American Tower, before the Carew, the unassuming 210-foot-tall Ingalls Building at Fourth and Vine streets was not just the first high-rise to be built in Cincinnati. It was also the first of its kind in the world.

RELATED: Read more about the Ingalls Building (American Society of Civil Engineers)

We asked Kent Jones, author of “Historic Downtown Cincinnati,” to explain how this project led to the boom of constructing concrete skyscrapers in the United States.

What made the Ingalls Building different from other tall buildings?
The tallest reinforced concrete structure, prior to 1902, was only six stories high. The Ingalls Building was planned to be nearly three times that with 15 stories and 75,000 square feet of space. It was the tallest building in the world for over 20 years.

What did people think of this new form of building?
Many people were skeptical. Concrete possesses low pulling strength and engineers believed that with the height of the Ingalls concrete tower, it would collapse under wind loads or its own weight.

How was it constructed?
Twisted steel bars inside of the concrete slab acted as reinforcements, then beams and joists were used to create the rest of the structure. Every month, floor slabs were poured for three more stories. The project was completed eight months later.

What benefits came from the success of the concrete sky rise?
Using concrete frames had tremendous cost savings over traditional steel frames -- especially for buildings of this size -- and was also advantageous in fireproofing.

What is the Ingalls Building used for today?
Formerly a bustling office building, the Ingalls Building’s occupancy rate has dwindled to less than 50 percent. It was purchased by a real estate developer in 2013 who has plans to turn the historic landmark into 50 condominiums.

Connect with WCPO Contributor Paige E. Malott on Twitter: @Paigetastic01 and check out her blog CincyWhimsy.com

Check back next week for another edition of "Who Knew?" If you have a tip, idea or question email: holly.edgell@wcpo.com.

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