Then & Now: The rise, fall and rebirth of Over-the-Rhine


CINCINNATI -- Arguably, no neighborhood in Cincinnati has as rich a history as Over-the-Rhine.

A mecca of German-American heritage, Over-the-Rhine’s "golden age" was between 1860 and 1900. But in the years that followed, it lost countless residents to the suburbs. What was once an explosion of culture and energy became one of several declining neighborhoods in the city’s ring of slums.

Many thought Over-the-Rhine would eventually disappear, swallowed up by Cincinnati's growing business district.

But they were wrong.

In 2006, Over-the-Rhine was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of "America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places," and many organizations today are helping to preserve and revitalize it.

In this interactive piece, we examine Over-the-Rhine during the early 1900s and compare it to 2014.

HOW TO USE OUR TOOL: Click and hold the white circular “slider” tool at the center of each photograph. Then move the slider left and right to see “before” and “after.”


  Nov. 13, 1926: West along Central Parkway from corner of Sycamore Street





Looking down Central Parkway in 1926, you can see the Alms & Doepke Dry Goods Company (building on the right). Today, the Hamilton County government owns this commercial building and its rooms are used as offices for Job and Family Services employees. In the building next door were the offices of locksmith Elijah B. Nickoson and a tinner named Bernard Moore. Also there was the Hogan Shoe Company, two vacancies, the chemical company Ackley & Brink and the Model Laundry Company. Today, a new building owned by the Salvation Army sits in that spot.


  Aug. 10, 1931: Vine Street north from E. Clifton Avenue





In 1931, this part of Vine Street near the intersection of E. Clifton Avenue was mainly homes. Most of the buildings on each side of the street have since been abandoned or demolished. A machine shop once produced metal goods in a tall building on the left, but that structure was later removed.


  Aug. 11, 1931: Vine Street north from McMicken Avenue





This portion of Vine Street looking north from McMicken Avenue in 1931 shows a dense combination of stores and apartments. On the left side of the street was Garfield Loan & Building Co., a barber shop owned by Elmer Gross, a beauty shop owned by Mattie L. Broyles, a dress maker shop owned by Rosa and Mary Piepenbring and several apartments. You can also see an ad for Old Hickory Malt Syrup from Queen City Extract Co. Across the street (right side of the photo) was Fenton United Cleaning & Dyeing Co., a shoe repair shop owned by Oscar Silverstein, a barber shop owned by Elmer Gross and Wm Meyer, a wallpaper shop owned by Jos Roeller and several apartments. Today, the block is home to Schwartz Point Jazz Club, and several unoccupied buildings.


  April 9, 1943: 12th and Vine Street





Now populated by the trendy restaurant Taste of Belgium, parking garages and art studios, this block of Vine Street looking south from 12th Street was home to the Western Bank & Trust in 1943. This building (on the left side of the photo) had large, impressive columns and has since been demolished. It was originally called the Western German Bank, but its name was changed in 1918 after WWI.

WCPO Insiders can enjoy 14 more interactive "Then & Now" images, including Music Hall, Mohawk Street and historic breweries. Insiders will learn what led to OTR's decline and how groups are working to bring back its golden age.

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