Who Knew? You can tour the high steel at Union Terminal, but you'd better reserve your spot early

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? High Steel of Union Terminal
  • Where can I see it? At Cincinnati Museum Center
  • Who knew? Dave Bossart, Cincinnati Heritage Programs

About 106 feet above the rotunda floor of Cincinnati Museum Center, the high steel of Union Terminal creates the signature dome to our city's distinct skyline. But did you know that you can take a guided tour of the narrow catwalks and climb on top of the intricate steelwork?

To learn more about design process of one of Cincinnati's most notable landmarks, we spoke with researcher Dave Bossart.

1. What inspired the Union Terminal High Steel Tour?

When Cincinnati Heritage Programs created the behind-the-scenes tour of Union Terminal 12 years ago, a climb to the High Steel was included as part of the tour. In 2008, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Union Terminal, Heritage Programs created a tour of the High Steel that included an audiovisual presentation on the construction of the National Engineering Historic Landmark. The tour lasts two hours.

2. Who built Union Terminal?

The James Stewart Company was the construction company with many subcontractors. The concept for Union Terminal was created by several civic leaders for the seven railroads that came to Cincinnati.

3. How was the dome constructed?

The dome was built by the construction of eight arched trusses, the first and smallest starting in the back of the dome and increasing in size to the front. The last two trusses create the barrel vault at the front facade.

4. Why was a rotunda decided upon as a design?

The design was created by the New York architectural firm of Fellheimer & Wagner , who was the primary designer of Union Terminal. Junior member of the firm, Roland Wank, was instrumental in the design. Another design consultant, Paul Cret, developed the bright and impressive colors and distinct art-deco features that surround the rotunda. The monumental half dome design was created in the Art Deco style to give the impression of power and practicality and to welcome people to a new modern age.

More about the Union Terminal High Steel Tours

  • November 1, 2014 at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m.
  • Advance registration for this sell-out tour is recommended: Call (513) 287-7031

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

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

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