Cincinnati Fire Museum

Cincinnati Fire Museum

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Housed in a brick firehouse that operated from 1906 until the late 1950s, the Cincinnati Fire Museum was established to preserve and display Cincinnati's fire department heritage. The museum features artifacts that cover more than 200 years of fire fighting history.Among its thousands of items, visitors will find horse-drawn pumps, leather buckets used by local bucket brigades, antique uniforms, helmets, fire trucks, and fire poles.The artifacts were saved by the city for decades before it was decided to make the items available to a museum. A group of volunteers in the 1970s raised $1.2 million and opened the doors of the old firehouse near City Hall.Cincinnati was the first U.S. The Fire Museum documents those changes in its many displays.Dating to the early 20th century, the museum building first served as a home for the firefighters employed there. There also is a case that displays 19th-century firefighter badges.

10 fun facts about the Cincinnati Fire Museum

The firehouse, former home to Engine 45. (Photo: Provided)

Fire! Fire! Fire! Those words from Beavis and Butt-Head were linked to arson and caused problems back in 1993, but with or without television, fires happen and fire departments extinguish them and save lives. Cincinnati has a fire department to be proud of, and people can learn about its history at the Cincinnati Fire Museum.

Here are 10 fun facts about the Cincinnati Fire Museum.

1. Better Safe than Sorry. To keep its staff and guests safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum has implemented many safety precautions. Guests are required to wear masks upon entering. Parties larger than 10 cannot enter at the same time due to limited capacity in their exhibit galleries and to maintain social distancing. Hands-on exhibits are sanitized at the beginning of every day and continue to be sanitized throughout the day. Hand sanitizer is stationed at all hands-on exhibits.

2. Happy Birthday! The Cincinnati Fire Museum turns 40 years old on December 20, 2020. The museum partnered with Cincy Shirts to create an anniversary t-shirt, which costs $25 each.

3. Family Heirlooms. The museum houses artifacts that date from the early 1800s to the present. However, the core of their collection are artifacts that were compiled by former volunteer firemen in 1853.

The first type of gas mask used by the Cincinnati Fire Department - the Vajen-Bader breathing helmet in 1916. These large helmets carried an air reservoir on the back. (Photo: Provided)

4. Good Old-Fashioned Music. The oldest artifact in the Fire Museum is a drum from 1808, which was used as an alarm during the volunteer era.

5. We were first! The museum teaches that in 1853, the first paid professional fire department in the United States was founded in Cincinnati.

6. This Old House. The museum is situated in the former quarters of Engine 45 and the building has many features that remind guests of its former role as an operating firehouse. They include a spiral staircase leading to the Chief’s office, original wooden lockers once used for turnout gear, an exhibit dedicated to hay storage for the horses and a hose closet to dry out hoses. In 1974 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The fire engine cab that kids can climb in at the Cincinnati Fire Museum. (Photo: Provided)

7. True Stories! All docents are active-duty firefighters. When they give a history tour, they share firsthand accounts of fire stories, equipment explanations, and current firefighting techniques and protocol. Sometimes retired firefighters visit the museum, too. One of them is Vickie Goodson, who was in the first class of female firefighters in 1984. Goodson retired from the department last year and serves on the Board of the Cincinnati Fire Museum. She sometimes brings her fire engine, which she named the "Cincy Fun Department" to the museum on Saturdays to give rides to visitors. The fire engine can be booked as part of their junior birthday party package.

8. Education. There's an exhibit called the safe house, which is a mock-up home. It teaches children how to escape a fire, see what a firefighter looks like and gives fire safety tips. The museum also developed new online programming to continue fulfilling their mission during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The fire pole exhibit at the Cincinnati Fire Museum. (Photo: Provided)

9. To the Batpoles! There is a fire pole that kids can slide down like Batman did in the 1960s TV show. There is also an engine cab that kids can climb into and sit behind the wheel of a real fire engine.

10. For Rent. The museum can be rented for weddings, corporate parties and meeting space. They also host junior firefighter birthday parties. However, due to COVID-19, they are temporarily prohibited from hosting an event with more than 10 people.

"The Cincinnati Fire Museum is a hidden gem in our city. We steward one of the most important fire related collections in the nation and are the only museum in Cincinnati that saves lives," says executive director Sarah Strickland. "School groups and families visit the museum to experience what it’s like to slide down a fire pole, sit behind the wheel of a real fire engine, and most importantly, learn life-saving fire safety information."

The Cincinnati Fire Museum

Where: 315 W. Court Street, Downtown

When: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Admission: $8 adults, $7 seniors 65-up, $6 children ages 7-17, and free for ages 6 and under.

Cincinnati Fire Museum

At some point, every kid wants to be a fire fighter. Mine regularly dress up in fire hats and coats, running through the house “fighting fires.” The Cincinnati Fire Museum is a place where kids can learn all about fire trucks, fire fighters and our city’s many contributions to U.S. fire fighting history.

It’s also a total hidden gem one of our city’s coolest and most unique places.

Located at the 1907 Court Street Firehouse (a registered historical building), the Cincinnati Fire Museum is a well-preserved piece of history along an otherwise modern road in Cincinnati’s West End. You’ll walk on original cobblestone sidewalk to get to the entrance on the side of the building, and the Fire Museum’s facade features the original garage doors and vintage lettering. It’s a charming building that will take you back to Old Cincinnati.

Did you know the first paid fire department was in Cincinnati? It was founded in 1853. Kids will learn all about what fire fighting was like in the mid-19th century in a highly visual and interactive way. There’s an 1808 fire drum, the oldest surviving fire engine in Cincinnati and an 1836 hand pumper. My kids loved the horse-drawn fire truck, and were excited to learn about how these old-fashioned fire houses worked: there was hay stored at each fire house to feed the company horses!

The Museum features several full-size trucks from different eras, and my kids absolutely loved getting an up-close look at all the vintage engines.

But every parent knows that there’s only so much looking a kid can do luckily, there are lots of interactive activities that really allow kids to step into the role of a fire fighter. There’s a fire pole young fire fighters can slide down, a smoke house where kids can “escape” out the window, an old-fashioned water pump for kids to try their hands at and the pièce de résistance : a full-sized E-One Pumper Cab where kids can run the lights and sirens, just like real fire fighters:

Cincinnati is full of hidden surprises, and this is epitomized in the Cincinnati Fire Museum. This museum is a fun place to spend an afternoon, and is sure to become one of your kid’s favorite spots in the city.

The Cincinnati Fire Museum, in conjunction with the Cincinnati Fire Department, operates a world-class fire safety education program designed to teach participants how to prevent fires within the home and how to protect themselves and escape should a fire occur. The Museum presents a simulated fire event in a mock home environment. Educators lead a tour and discussion through various rooms in a mock home. In each room, various fire and burn hazards are demonstrated and explanations are offered as to how each can cause a fire and what can be done to prevent it.

The tour takes approximately 60 minutes and is appropriate for all ages. The Museum offers guided tours for groups with advance reservations only.

Admission is $6 for children (7-17 – children under six are free with an adult or senior),
seniors (65+) $7 and $8 for adults. Call 513-621-5553 for reservations.

In 1853, the first paid professional fire department in the United States was founded in Cincinnati and it changed American firefighting forever.

Listed on the National Historic Registry, the Cincinnati Fire Museum celebrates our city’s proud history and allows you to experience what it was like to work in the busiest Cincinnati firehouse in 1906. You and your family will see some of the oldest firefighting equipment in existence when visiting the Cincinnati Fire Museum.


The Museum has the most comprehensive firefighting history in the United States.

The Cincinnati Fire Museum is fun for the whole family!

Bring your kids so they can:
• Visit our Safe House and practice life saving fire safety skills.
• Slide down our real firehouse pole!
• See what real firefighters look like wearing their protective gear.
• Run the lights and sirens in our E-One Pumper Cab!
• Witness some of the oldest examples of firefighting equipment in existence.


The Museum houses one of the best collections of firefighting artifacts in the United States.

• Leather fire buckets
• Volunteer Era Parade Helmets
• The 1808 Fire Alarm Drum
• The 1816 Hunneman Fire Engine
• The Aurora, an 1884 Ahrens Fox Steam Fire Engine
• Cincinnati Fire Department Engine 13, a 1917 Ahrens Fox Piston Pumper
• The 1958 Northern Hills Fire Engine, the last Ahrens Fox Pumper produced

Cincinnati in Motion

The downtown area of the nation’s largest full-motion urban layout has been refreshed and business is once again booming in downtown Cincinnati of the 1940s. The buildings, vehicles, people and their pets have been cleaned, repaired and repainted. Landmarks like the Roebling Bridge, City Hall, Carew Tower and more are recreated in stunning detail. The fire department is on call and the riverfront hums with activity. Marvel at the intricacies of Cincinnati on a 1/64 scale and watch the layout come to life as lighting effects transition from day to night and the city is illuminated by the glow of streetlights.

As one of the best-loved galleries in the Cincinnati History Museum, Cincinnati in Motion, the downtown portion returns as a refreshed and renewed space in Union Terminal. The renovated gallery offers cleaned and repaired historic S-gauge train models, new lighting and sound, more opportunities to interact with historic and updated content, glimpses at the inner mechanics of the models and stronger visual connections to Cincinnati’s skyline just outside Union Terminals’ windows.

Cincinnati in Motion Exploration Unit
Can’t make it to the museum?
Museum Admission

Includes Cincinnati History Museum and Museum of Natural History & Science

Adult: $14.50
Seniors: $13.50
Ages 3-12: $10.50
2 years old & under: FREE
Member Adult:
Member Child:

Please reserve your timed entry tickets online up to three weeks in advance.

Members receive discounts!

Become a Member today to save on programs, exhibits and films throughout CMC.

Museum of Natural History & Science

The Museum of Natural History & Science, Cincinnati Museum Center’s oldest predecessor institution, has its roots in the very earliest days of the city. It’s also one of the three museums that make up Cincinnati Museum Center.

Museum of Natural History & Science today

The Museum of Natural History & Science at Cincinnati Museum Center offers a world of science, history and nature through interactive exhibits and amazing artifacts. Guests can reach their own “ah-ha” moment through creative thinking and problem-solving skills. With something for all ages, there’s always more to explore in the Museum of Natural History & Science.

Creating monumental educational experiences is what makes Museum Center unlike any other museum, and we know that the most effective educational experiences spark interest through fun. The Museum of Natural History & Science inspires wonder and teaches basic principles of science, while also highlighting our active role in groundbreaking research. By connecting science and history, the Museum of Natural History & Science inspires the next generation to keep asking questions so that we can find tomorrow’s answers.


Just thirty years after the founding of Cincinnati, physician and scientist Daniel Drake founded the Western Museum in 1818 and hired naturalist John James Audubon as its first employee. In 1835 Drake established the Western Academy of Natural Sciences, incorporating the collections of the Western Museum. After the Civil War, this organization evolved into the Cincinnati Society of Natural History. The Society continued to grow in sophistication, adding to its collections and expanding its staff.

After nearly a century as a tenant in various downtown buildings, the museum moved into its own home on Gilbert Avenue in Eden Park in 1958. Here it distinguished itself with by creating a widely-adopted educational program where hundreds of museum exhibit cases rotated through the Cincinnati public school system, reaching thousands of students weekly in their classrooms. Attendance and membership continued to grow until the museum moved to Union Terminal in 1990. Today it attracts more than 1.5 million guests every year.


Native Americans Edit

From about 900 to 1600 CE, during the Late Prehistoric Period, a cultural group called the Fort Ancient people lived in southwest Ohio. Shawnee, as well as Siouan speakers such as the Mosopelea and Tutelo are believed by some scholars to be their descendants, were hunter-gatherers who established villages during the summers and followed and hunted animal populations in the winter throughout the Ohio River Valley. Men hunted and protected their tribes, while women gathered food and farmed crops. They constructed wigwams for lodging in the villages. Like other tribes in Ohio—the Ojibwe, Miami and Lenape people—their language is of the Algonquian languages family. [1]

Their way of life changed, beginning in the mid-1600s, as people of European descent encroached on their hunting and summer lands and became competitors of Europeans and other Native American tribes in the ensuing fur trade of British and French fur traders. Their options for redress were to search for unoccupied land, destroy colonial settlements, or fight. Many Shawnee and other tribes were driven out of Ohio beginning in the 1640s by the Iroquois Confederacy who hunted deer, beaver, and other fur-bearing animals. [1]

The Shawnee supported the French during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). There were continued land disputes and treaties in the 18th century. Members of the Ojibwa, Lenape, Ottawa, Wyandotte and Shawnee tribes formed an alliance with the Miami tribe, led by Little Turtle in the fight for their land. [1] Ultimately, after the Battle of the Wabash (1792) and Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794), eleven tribes signed the Treaty of Greenville in 1794 which forced them to relinquish most of their land. [1]

Symmes Purchase Edit

With the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, the country expanded westward to frontier land north of the Ohio River and within the confines of the Northwest Territory. In 1786, Benjamin Stites traveled to the Little Miami Valley and noticed that there was fertile land for settlement and conveyed that information to eastern speculators. [3] [a] Hearing of the possibilities, a Continental Congress delegate John Cleves Symmes, purchased one [3] [b] or two million acres in 1787 from the Congress of the Confederation [4] that was called Symmes Purchase. [3] Also called the Miami Purchase, the land between the Great and Little Miami Rivers, ultimately became Warren, Butler, and Hamilton Counties. Of Symmes Purchase, Stites purchased 10,000 acres, [3] 800 acres of which he sold to Mathias Denman. [3] Denman's land was along the Ohio River and across from the mouth of the Licking River. [4]

Three initial settlements Edit

Pioneers came on flatboats along the Ohio River to settle what would become Cincinnati, [3] located between the Little Miami and Great Miami rivers on the north shore of the Ohio River. The city began as three settlements: Columbia, Losantiville, and North Bend.

Columbia, a mile west of the Little Miami River, was settled when a group of 26 people led by Benjamin Stites arrived on November 18, 1788. Stites had arranged parties of pioneers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. [5] They settled at the present site of Lunken Airport, [3] [6] where they built a blockhouse and log cabins, partially using wood from their flatboats. [5] More people arrived over time, and more cabins were built. They struggled to get enough food to feed themselves and the new arrivals, but they did what they could by fishing, hunting, making a flour out of bear grass, farming, and acquiring some food from traders from Pittsburg. [5] Of the three settlements, Columbia grew the fastest at first. It was initially the center of trading and the granary of the area. [5] The first Protestant church (Baptist) in the Northwest Territory was erected in Columbia. [7]

Losantiville Edit

On December 28, 1788, eleven families with 24 men landed across from Licking River at what would be Sycamore Street and at present-day Yeatman's Cove. [3] Losantiville, the central settlement, was named by the original surveyor, John Filson, [8] who scouted the area on September 22, 1788 with Mathias Denman, and Colonel Robert Patterson. [3] The name which means "The city opposite the mouth of the river" is composed of four terms, each of different language. [9] [c] Filson disappeared in October 1788, [9] perhaps killed by Native Americans. [3] The group, led by Patterson, who founded Lexington, Kentucky, originated in Limestone (now Maysville, Kentucky). [5] When they arrived, Israel Ludlow became the settlement's surveyor and he laid out the town in a grid plan, which went from Northern Row (now Seventh Street) to the river, where land was set aside for a public landing. Its eastern and western borders are now Central Avenue and Broadway. [3] Before April 1, 1789, 30 lots were given to people so the settlement would grow. It was attractive for its town layout along the waterfront. Aside from what they attained through hunting and fishing, they grew corn, beans, squash, cucumbers, and pumpkin. The town soon had a tavern and ferry service that carried people across the Ohio River to Kentucky. A justice of the peace, William McMillan was installed. [5] By 1790, there were 700 people in the town due to an influx of new settlers and military troops posted at Fort Washington. [4] Symmes wrote that Losantiville, then a settlement of forty two-story log houses, "assumes the appearance of a town of some respectability". [10]

North Bend on the Great Miami and a few miles west of Losantiville was founded by Symmes in February 1789. He had arranged a group of pioneers from Limestone, Kentucky that included soldiers and his family members to travel to the area. [5] Like the people of Columbia and Losantiville, North Bend settlers struggled to get enough food initially. North Bend provided 24 lots to new settlers by May 1789. [5]

Fort Washington Edit

Symmes and St. Clair were concerned about Native American tribes, who would provide resistance to settlement by whites. [3] [5] There were over 260,000 square miles of the Northwest Territory—including the present-day states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin—that were protected by just 300 soldiers of the First Infantry Regiment. Native American tribes of the Ohio Valley were hostile to the encroachment by white people and there were "back-and-forth raids" among the cohabitating peoples. Most of the Native Americans in the Northwest Territory received aid from the British and generally sided with them—and they were not party to the Treaty of Paris (1783) that ceded land to the United States. [10]

In 1789, Fort Washington was constructed under the direction of General Josiah Harmar and was named in honor of President George Washington. [11] It was built in the north-east corner of Losantiville [5] and served all of the Northwest Territory for five years. During that time, 613 troops under the command of St. Clair were lost during a battle with Miami chief Little Turtle. The Treaty of Greenville was signed in 1795 after Major General Anthony Wayne won the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The fort, no longer needed, was torn down in 1808. [3]

Society of Cincinnati Edit

On January 4, 1790, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, changed the name of the settlement to "Cincinnati" in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, of which he was president, [12] possibly at the suggestion of the surveyor Israel Ludlow. [13] The society gets its name from Cincinnatus, the Roman general and dictator, who saved the city of Rome from destruction and then quietly retired to his farm. [3] [d] The society was composed of Continental Army officers of the Revolutionary War. [3]

Early settlers Edit

Among the settlers, rabbit and deer pelts were used to barter for goods. [5]

Cincinnati was populated by Revolutionary War soldiers who were granted lands in the state. This included men like John Cleves Symmes who acquired large parcels of land and sold off tracts for a profit. Some former officers were given large parcels of land in payment for their service. There were also civilians that came to the area seeking an opportunity for a successful life based upon the purchase of affordable land. [10]

Hamilton County was established on January 4, 1790 by Arthur St. Clair. Tensions between pioneers and Native Americans increased over time, and Hamilton County issued a proclamation forbidding reckless shooting and barring the sale of liquor to Native Americans. All men were subject to military duty and people made preparations to defend their settlements. In addition, more soldiers arrived at Fort Washington. Some people moved to safer Kentucky communities in 1790. [5]

The frontier town had houses of ill-repute and a number of taverns, neither of which were regulated and were frequented by the fort's soldiers. Winthrop Sargent, the Northwest Territory Secretary beginning in 1787 and for a time was acting governor, found the city's residents were "licentious" and "extremely debauched". He issued a proclamation in 1790 to ban the sale of liquor to soldiers. There was not support, though, from the townspeople to regulate business at bordellos and taverns. He was "so despised by his own men that his home was the subject of artillery practice while he was away." [10] A sheriff was hired and a court was established, but the sheriff was generally unable to maintain control within Cincinnati. This was due to drunkenness of the fort's soldiers and tensions with the Shawnee and other local Native Americans. Often the military established martial law to maintain order. [4]

The population of the settlement grew, and a wide range of businesses were established by 1795, including furniture manufacturers, a butcher, a brewer, and a French pastry chef. To meet the needs of pioneers and soldiers heading west on the Ohio River, there were 30 warehouses that supplies the needs of the travelers. [4]

Cincinnati was chartered as a town on January 1, 1802. [15] [16] Cincinnati established James Smith as the first town marshall [17] the following year the town started a "night watch". [18] There were about 1,000 civilian residents in 1803, the military abandoned Fort Washington. By 1820, there were nearly 10,000 residents. [4] The introduction of steam navigation on the Ohio River in 1811 helped the city grow.

In addition to providing supplies for travelers, in the early 19th century there was a wide range of service-based businesses—including restaurants, taverns, and hotels—to meet traveler's needs. Transportation on the Ohio River also assisted in the city's growth. Crops were sent to one of Ohio's major markets, New Orleans, along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Transportation costs were reduced for shipping crops or goods from western Ohio to Cincinnati due to the Miami and Erie Canal. Steamboats were repaired and built in the city. It became a meatpacking center, where livestock was slaughtered and butchered and sold in Cincinnati or shipped. Cincinnati became known as the "Porkopolis" when it became the pork-processing center of the country. [4]

It was chartered as a city by an act of the General Assembly that passed February 5, 1819, and took effect on March 1 of that year. [19] The same year, Cincinnati began publishing city directories, listing the names of the residents, their occupations, and their residential addresses. These old directories remain a valuable resource for people seeking information about early residents. [20] The Medical College of Ohio was founded by Daniel Drake in 1819. [4]

It was the sixth-largest city in the country, with a population of 115,435, by 1850. [3] In 1850 it was the first city in the United States to establish a Jewish Hospital.

Police and fire services Edit

In 1819, when Cincinnati was incorporated as a city, the first city marshal, William Ruffin, was appointed. In May 1828, the police force consisted of one captain, one assistant, and five patrolmen. By 1850, the city authorized positions for a police chief and six lieutenants, but it was 1853 before the first police chief, Jacob Keifer, was appointed and he was dismissed after 3 weeks.

Cincinnati accompanied its growth by paying men to act as its Cincinnati Fire Department in 1853, making the first full-time paid fire department in the United States. It was the first in the world to use steam fire engines. [21]

Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad Edit

Cincinnati was an important stop for the Underground Railroad in pre-Civil War times. It bordered a slave state, Kentucky, and is often mentioned as a destination for many people escaping the bonds of slavery. There are many harrowing stories involving abolitionists, runaways, slave traders and free men.

Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1824 as the first Black church in Ohio. It was an important stop on the Underground Railroad for many years. It seeded many other congregations in the city, across the state, and throughout the Midwest.

Lane Theological Seminary was established in the Walnut Hills section of Cincinnati in 1829 to educate Presbyterian ministers. Prominent New England pastor Lyman Beecher moved his family (Harriet and son Henry) from Boston to Cincinnati to become the first President of the Seminary in 1832.

Lane Seminary is known primarily for the "debates" held there in 1834 that influenced the nation's thinking about slavery. Several of those involved went on to play an important role in the abolitionist movement and the buildup to the American Civil War.

Abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in Cincinnati for part of her life. [4] She wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, first published on March 20, 1852. The book was the best-selling novel of the 19th century (and the second best-selling book of the century after the Bible) [22] and is credited with helping to fuel the abolitionist cause in the United States prior to the American Civil War. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold. In his 1985 book Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture, Thomas Gossett observed that "in 1872 a biographer of Horace Greeley would argue that the chief force in developing support for the Republican Party in the 1850s had been Uncle Tom's Cabin." The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati is located at 2950 Gilbert Avenue, and it is open to the public.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, located in downtown Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River, largely focuses on the history of slavery in the U.S., but has an underlying mission of promoting freedom in a contemporary fashion for the world. Its grand opening ceremony in 2002 was a gala event involving many national stars, musical acts, fireworks, and a visit from the current First Lady of the United States. It is physically located between Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium, which were both built and opened shortly before the Freedom Center was opened.

Race relations before the Civil War Edit

Situated across the Ohio River from the border state of Kentucky, which allowed slavery, and slavery was illegal in Ohio, Cincinnati was a natural destination or part of a northerly route for people escaping slavery. Anti-slavery tracts and newspapers were published in Cincinnati to send to the South. [4]

There were some people that were concerned that blacks would compete with them for jobs. Tension built when people perceived that blacks were infringing on opportunities available to white or becoming powerful. For instance, Irish immigrants believed that blacks were taking their job opportunities in 1829. [4] The Cincinnati Riots of 1829 broke out in July and August 1829 as whites attacked blacks in the city. Many of the latter had come from the South to establish a community with more freedom. Some 1200 blacks left the city as a result of rioting and resettled in Canada. [23] Blacks in other areas tried to raise money to help people who wanted to relocate to Canada. The riot was a topic of discussion in 1830 among representatives of seven states at the first Negro Convention, led by Bishop Richard Allen and held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

As the anti-slavery movement grew, there were more riots in 1836, when whites attacked a press run by James Birney, who had started publishing the anti-slavery weekly The Philanthropist. The mob grew to 700 and also attacked black neighborhoods and people. [24] Another riot occurred in 1841. [23]

Irish and German immigrants settled in Cincinnati and beginning in the 1830s there were some people who did not accept people of other backgrounds. They were targeted by the temperance movement because they were perceived to be heavy drinkers. [4] See Cincinnati Nativist Riots of 1855.

Nicknames Edit

Cincinnati was first called "Queen of the West" in 1819 by Ed. B. Cooke who wrote "The City is, indeed, justly styled the fair Queen of the West: distinguished for order, enterprise, public spirit, and liberality, she stands the wonder of an admiring world." It was published in the Cincinnati Advertiser and the Inquisitor. The following year the city's residents were call it The Queen of the West or The Queen City. [25]

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote of the vineyards in Cincinnati of Nicholas Longworth in the last stanza of his poem Catawba Wine in 1854: [25]

And this Song of the Vine, This greeting of mine, The winds and the birds shall deliver, To the Queen of the West, In her garlands dressed, On the banks of the Beautiful River.

The nickname "Porkopolis" was first published about 1840, but had its beginning in 1825 when banker George W. Jones, who had often talked of the number of hogs roaming the streets for slaughter, received a paper mache pig and was dubbed to have been from Porkopolis. In 1840, there was more than $3 million of packed pork produced by 1,200 men in 48 packing houses in Cincinnati. Twenty years later, there were twice the number of men involved in the business. Chicago became the major meat packing center of pigs and took over the nickname by 1875. [26]

Cincinnati also is known as the "City of Seven Hills". The hills form a crescent from the east bank of the Ohio River to the west bank: Mount Adams, Walnut Hills, Mount Auburn, Vine Street Hill, College Hill, Fairmount, and Mount Harrison. [27]

During the American Civil War, many people in the area were "Southern sympathizers" due to Cincinnati's commerce with slave states and history of settlement by southerners from eastern states. [28] Of the people who served in the military, most enlisted with the Union Army, but a large number who served for the Confederates. [4] Some residents participated in the Copperhead movement in Ohio. [28]

Cincinnati played a key role as a major source of supplies and troops for the Union Army [28] It also provided housing for soldiers and their families, both of which were good for the city's economy. The United States Christian Commission, United States Sanitary Commission, and other charities came to the area to assist soldiers and their families. [4] It served as the headquarters for much of the war for the Department of the Ohio, which was charged with the defense of the region, as well as directing the army's offensive into Kentucky and Tennessee. [28]

In July 1863, the Union Army instituted martial law in Cincinnati due to the imminent danger posed by the Confederate Morgan's Raiders. Bringing the war to the North, they attacked several outlying villages, such as Cheviot and Montgomery. [29] [30]

During the American Civil War, an eight-mile line of defense was built by Cincinnatians along the Ohio River to protect the city. One of the batteries, Battery Hooper, became the site of the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum in Fort Wright, Kentucky. [32] Due to the efforts of the Black Brigade of Cincinnati and the Defense of Cincinnati, forces established to defend Cincinnati did not need to fire a shot during the Civil War. [33] [31]

With nearly 300,000 people, it was the state's largest city, and it was the country's densest population with an average of 37,143 people per square mile. [4]

The city had an art academy, art museum, Music Hall, opera house, Exposition Building, and a public library. There were about 130 magazines and newspapers produced in the city. There were more than 200 churches, five hospitals, and college education attainable through University of Cincinnati. [4] In 1888, Cincinnati German Protestants community started a "sick house" ("Krankenhaus") staffed by deaconesses. It evolved into the city's first general hospital, and included nurses' training school. It was renamed Deaconess Hospital in 1917. [34]

Sports Edit

The Cincinnati Red Stockings, a baseball team whose name and heritage inspired today's Cincinnati Reds, began their career in the 19th century as well. In 1868, meetings were held at the law offices of Tilden, Sherman, and Moulton to make Cincinnati's baseball team a professional one it became the first regular professional team in the country in 1869. In its first year, the team won 57 games and tied one, giving it the best winning record of any professional baseball team in history. [35]

Commerce Edit

In 1879, Procter & Gamble, one of Cincinnati's major soap manufacturers, began marketing Ivory Soap. It was marketed as "light enough to float." After a fire at the first factory, Procter & Gamble moved to a new factory on the Mill Creek and renewed soap production. The area became known as Ivorydale. [36] Cincinnati was the first municipality to own a railroad, the Cincinnati Southern in 1880. [37]

In 1887, industries in Cincinnati produced more than 200 million dollars in goods and employed 103,325 people. It had become "an important industrial, political, literary, and educational center in both Ohio and the United States" by 1890. [4] By the end of the 19th century, its leading industries were iron production, woodworking, cloth production, and meatpacking. [4]

Cincinnati had a monopoly in the late 19th century because local manufacturers were able to build inexpensive carriages that opened the market to a larger pool of potential customers, such as farmers who would otherwise use a farm wagon for pleasure travel but were able to afford the inexpensive carriages. [38]

The city's population did not increase much over the 20th century. In the 1880s there were 300,000 people and in 2000 there were 365,000 people living within 77 square miles. But, there are more than 1.8 million people living in Cincinnati's suburbs. [4]

World War I Edit

During World War I (1914–1918), 25,000 men from Cincinnati served in the military. Cincinnati's citizens and children found many ways to support the war effort, such as "adopting" 1,200 fatherless French children, collecting tin foil, planting war gardens, establishing home guards to pick up local responsibilities by the militia, rolling bandages and knitting tens of thousands of articles of clothing. The Cincinnati Training Battalion was established so that men that expected to be drafted could get a head start on training. [39] Jewish men beyond draft age prepared to serve in Palestine. Local plants retrofitted their factories to produce items required by the war or increased production to turn out needed supplies. As a result, Cincinnati turned out munitions, camping equipment for soldiers, battleship parts, clothing and food for soldiers, and other necessary goods. [39] Millions of dollars were raised for Liberty Loans relief funds for Armenia, Belgium and France, the Red Cross thrift stamps and the YMCA. Women took positions formerly held by men and African-Americans moved to Cincinnati from the South. [39]

Anti-German sentiment raised to a fevered pitch, though, during the war. Rumors were spread about German-American businesses. The conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Ernst Kunwald, was interned under the Alien and Sedition Acts. Professor Emil Heerman, the concertmeister, was released into the custody of the Conservatory of Music after he was arrested He invested 75% of his income in Liberty Bonds, which helped restore much of his reputation. The city's library removed pro-German books and the public schools discontinued German language classes. [39]

World War II Edit

Due to isolationism and disillusion that the world was not "safe for democracy" after World War I, many people were initially reluctant to become involved in World War II (1939–1945) until the attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941). Others, though, had seen for a while that it is the best interest of the United States to become in the war. Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, said "My first feeling was of relief that the indecision was over and that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people." [40]

During the war, the regional draft boards registered 81,000 men in October 1940. Volunteers and those who were drafted reported to Fort Thomas in Kentucky. Almost 100,000 men and women from the area served in the war. Women served in support roles, like radio operator and driver. African-Americans served in segregated units, like the 93rd Infantry Division. The war provided opportunities for blacks and women to progress in ways that they were unable to before the war. For instance, generally the workforce was made up of single women. During the war, women were needed in military positions and in civilian positions to staff the production effort. More black men were accepted into the military to meet manpower needs or worked in plants. People from the area also served in the diplomatic corps or in federal agencies. [41]

In Cincinnati, 2,000 manufacturers, with more than 180,000 employees, rallied to provide goods required by the military. The largest subcontractor, Wright Aeronautical Corporation, produced engines for military planes. The war effort required goods like food, soap, clothing, glycerine-some of which required some modification to meet the military's needs, such as ties made out of khaki-colored material. Some completely changed the products they produced, like switching from making women's clothing to producing parachutes. Tank turrets and armor plates were made by Mosler Safe, a metal working plant. [40] Cincinnati was positioned with a number of options for transporting raw materials and goods, including the railroad through Union Terminal, barges on the Ohio River, airplanes at Lunken Field. [41]

As in World War I, Cincinnatians rallied to support the war. They planted victory gardens, organized bond drives, bought bonds, and retooled factories. Goods were collected that were needed for the war, such as rubber and various types of scrap metal (e.g., copper, iron, etc.). There were also conservation efforts that helped ensure that necessary goods were available to meet the military's needs. [40] Local boards issued ration books for scarce consumable products, like butter, meat, sugar, coffee, gasoline, and tires. [40]

A defense council was established in May 1941 to plan for civilian protection and was led by Phillip O. Geier, the president of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. [40]

Modern urban development Edit

In 1902, the world's first reinforced concrete skyscraper was built, the Ingalls Building. After World War II, Cincinnati unveiled a master plan for urban renewal that resulted in modernization of the inner city. Since the 1950s, $250 million was spent on improving neighborhoods, building clean and safe low- and moderate-income housing, provide jobs and stimulate economic growth. [42]

The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County developed the Banks - an urban neighborhood along the city's riverfront including restaurants, clubs, offices, and homes with skyline views. Groundbreaking took place on April 2, 2008. Adjacent is Smale Riverfront Park, a "front porch" to Ohio.

A 3.6-mile streetcar line running through downtown and Over the Rhine was completed in 2015 and called the Cincinnati Bell Connector.

Commerce Edit

American Financial Group, Cinergy, Kroger, Procter & Gamble, E. W. Scripps Company, and Totes Isotoner are among the corporations that have their regional or national headquarters in the city. [4]

Sports Edit

In 1935, major league baseball's first night game was played at Crosley Field.

In 1970 and 1975, the city completed Riverfront Stadium and Riverfront Coliseum, respectively, as the Cincinnati Reds baseball team emerged as one of the dominant teams of the decade. In fact, the Big Red Machine of 1975 and 1976 is considered by many to be one of the best baseball teams to ever play the game. Three key players on the team (Johnny Bench, Tony Pérez, and Joe Morgan), as well as manager Sparky Anderson, were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, while a fourth, Pete Rose, still holds the title for the most hits (4,256), singles (3,215), games played (3,562), games played in which his team won (1,971), at-bats (14,053) and outs (10,328) in baseball history.

The Cincinnati Bengals football team of the NFL was founded in 1968 by legendary coach Paul Brown. The team appeared in the 1981 and 1988 Super Bowls.

FC Cincinnati, Cincinnati's professional soccer team, was founded in 2015 as a member of the United Soccer League, now known as the USL Championship, and played its first season in 2016. During tis three seasons in a division II league, the club received international recognition for its consistent record-breaking attendance numbers and historic 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run. The team's ownership group was granted a Major League Soccer franchise that started play under the FC Cincinnati name in 2019 the USL team accordingly ceased operations after the 2018 season. [43]

Boy Scouts Edit

"The Sons of Daniel Boone", a forerunner to the Boy Scouts of America, began in Cincinnati in 1905. Because of the city's rich German heritage, the pre-prohibition era allowed Cincinnati to become a national forerunner in the brewing industry. [44]

Media Edit

During experimentation for six years (until 1939), Cincinnati's AM radio station, WLW was the first to broadcast at 500,000 watts. [45] In 1943, King Records (and its subsidiary, Queen Records) was founded, and went on to record early music by artists who became highly successful and influential in Country, R&B, and Rock. WCET-TV was the first licensed public television station, established in 1954. [46] Cincinnati is home to radio's WEBN 102.7 FM, the longest-running album-oriented rock station in the United States, first airing in 1967. In 1976, the Cincinnati Stock Exchange became the nation's first all-electronic trading market.

Race relations Edit

There have been many incidents of race-based violence before and after the Civil War with the most notable and most recent one being the 2001 Cincinnati Riots.

Disasters Edit

Cincinnati has experienced multiple floods in its history. The largest being the Ohio River flood of 1937 where the hydrograph measured a river depth of 80 feet—55 feet above normal levels. [47]

On December 3, 1979, 11 persons were killed in a crowd crush at the entrance of Riverfront Coliseum for a rock concert by the British band The Who.

Being in the Midwest, Cincinnati has also experienced several violent tornadoes. Of the 1974 Super Outbreak tornadoes, a F5 crossed the Ohio River from northern Kentucky into Sayler Park, the westernmost portion of the city along the Ohio River. The tornado then continued north into the suburbs of Mack, Bridgetown and Dent before weakening. The parent thunderstorm went on to produce another violet F4 that touched down in Elmwood Place and Arlington Heights before leaving the city limits and tracking toward Mason, Ohio. Three people lost their lives, while over another 100 were injured in both of these tornadoes. In the early morning hours of 9 April 1999, another violent tornado grazed the Cincinnati Metro, in the suburb of Blue Ash. It was rated an F4 killing 4 residents. [48]

Gold Star Chili Fest is back

For two decades, Gold Star and the Cincinnati Fire Museum sponsored Cincinnati ChiliFest, but the last one was 14 years ago.

Well, they're bringing it back. It will have the same family-friendly feel, benefit the Fire Museum and feature a chili cook-off. It will also have something that wasn't around 14 years ago: Ten food trucks. Each will offer at least one chili dish. The Gold Star ChiliMobile will be there, too, and so will local breweries.

"Gold Star is very excited to help bring a Cincinnati tradition back to chili-loving families across the region," said Roger Davic, CEO of Gold Star. "Giving back to the community that's been so loyal to us over the years is central to our values."

It will take place on October 6 from noon-midnight at The Cincinnati Fire Museum, 315 W. Court St., Downtown, and the lots next to it on Plum and Court Street.

There will be lots of games, firefighter demonstrations, the popular touch-a-truck area, photos with local firefighters, antique fire trucks and a smokehouse.

Bill "Gumby" Donovan is coordinating the ChiliFest chili cook-off. He's a retired firefighter who has been involved with chili festivals in Cincinnati since 1986. It will take 30 entries this year, who will compete for three top spots. First place wins a firefighter helmet with a custom leather shield, $100 cash and a gift basket featuring area businesses.

Live music will include Robin Lacy and DeZydeco, Seven Bridges and the Alley Cats

The festival is free, and so is the Cincinnati Fire Museum. The museum features one of the most extensive displays of firefighting artifacts in the country.

Opinion: History says the Supper Club fire was no accident

Photo from “Cincinnati: An Illustrated Timeline”: The fallen sign of the Beverly Hills Supper Club marks the tragedy where 165 people lost their lives in 1977. (The Cincinnati Enquirer/Ed Reinke) (Photo: Provided)

Ivory-clean Cincinnati has a dirty secret buried in the dim, forgotten past. Long ago, a Faustian bargain was made that was good for the convention business: The northern banks of the Ohio would stay clean – but south of the river, anything goes.

Newport, Kentucky became an underworld kingdom, the outlaw grandfather of Las Vegas. It was “Sin City,” “Little Mexico” and “America’s most wicked city,” according to Esquire magazine in 1957.

Two decades later it was on the national map again when 165 people were killed in the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire – 44 years ago this weekend.

While the ashes of the 1977 tragedy were still smoking, the public was led to believe it was an accident and had nothing to do with Newport’s dark past. But history and evidence connect those dots to the same pair of dice.


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State officials blocked a state fire marshal’s effort to investigate arson, and immediately covered up possible criminal evidence with a bulldozer and a crane. A waitress and busboys who reported suspected arsonists in the Zebra Room where the fire started were brushed off and ridiculed. Three of the four “blue ribbon” investigators and the governor who appointed them were corrupt. And that’s just a small sample of the evidence for arson.

It was ludicrously ignorant or audaciously dishonest to declare that the fire was an accident while the dead were still being counted. Between 1970 and 1977, a major nightclub or restaurant was burned every year in Northern Kentucky, all suspected mob arsons. Accelerants were found and owners were seen removing their liquor – sure signs of mob ultimatums: sell or burn.

In 1970, as it was being remodeled by new owner Dick Schilling, the Beverly Hills burned. The fire chief had no doubt it was arson. But Schilling started over and revived the grand old “Showplace of the Nation” where Dean Martin had worked as a dealer, where Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and even wholesome Ozzie and Harriet had drawn crowds from all over the Midwest like moths to footlights.

MAY 1977: Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire Fort Thomas armory "morgue." (Photo: File/Bob Lynn)

But that was not the first Beverly Hills fire and it wouldn’t be the last.

The first was in 1936. Pete Schmidt, a driver for the “King of the Bootleggers,” George Remus, bought a roadhouse on a hilltop in Southgate and turned it into the most spectacular casino and nightclub in wide-open Northern Kentucky: the Beverly Hill Country Club.

Schmidt’s club was too successful. It attracted a visit by Moe Dalitz, boss of the Cleveland Four mob that had the organized crime “franchise” for Ohio and Kentucky. Dalitz made an offer. Schmidt refused. So on the night of Feb. 2, a carload of gangsters broke in, emptied cans of gas and torched it. A 5-year-old girl, staying with her sister who was married to the caretaker, was killed.

And the mob moved in. They took over the Beverly Hills, the Lookout House and all the other high-class "carpet joints" – the Latin Quarter, the Flamingo Club, the Merchant’s Club, the Turf Club and dozens of others.

Small-time hoodlums ran trashy "bust-out joints," where unwary customers didn’t get out until they were flat busted or drugged and mugged.

The gangsters had colorful names: "Game Boy Miller." "The Enforcer." "Sleepout Louie." "The Human Adding Machine." And there were a few heroes who fought the mob. A judge. A mailman. A sheriff named George Ratterman.

Enquirer file Crews battle the deadly blaze at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in 1977. Crews battle the deadly blaze at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in 1977. (Photo: Enquirer file)

This is the colorful, amazing history I discovered while researching my book, "Forbidden Fruit: Sin City’s Underworld and the Supper Club Inferno."

  • In 1957, a reporter counted 300 prostitutes per mile in Newport.
  • The town marshal in Wilder openly ran a brothel and blackmailed his customers.
  • Newport’s homicide rate was four times the national average in 1950, not counting victims who disappeared in a "Newport Nightgown" – wrapped in chains and thrown from a bridge.
  • Before 1960, Newport’s take from vice was $30 million a year, and perhaps three times more from its national wire-betting hub for the mob. A million visitors were fleeced each year.
  • Moe Dalitz said the Beverly Hills taught him everything he needed to know to open the Desert Inn and become “The Godfather of Las Vegas.”
  • U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy declared war on the mob in 1961, starting in Newport. FBI wiretaps recorded mobsters discussing how to get even by killing his brother, the President.

The story is as old as Eden. One little taste of forbidden fruit – bootleg booze during Prohibition – unleashed all the evils of the underworld: beatings, murders, prostitution, porn, crooked cops, extortion, illegal gambling, ruined families and gangrene corruption that infected judges, prosecutors, police and politicians all the way to the governor and beyond.

Firefighters sift through the ruins of the Beverly Hills supper Club after the fatal nightclub fire. (Photo: The Enquirer/Mark Treitel)

And the same "Newport Eye" that ignored all that, looked the other way to cover up evidence of arson in 1977, including an informant who told the FBI he overheard men planning to burn the club – two weeks before the fire.

The "aluminum wiring" civil settlement proved nothing but the greed of lawyers. Repeated investigations reached the same dead-end: "undetermined cause." But the past refuses to stay buried. Evidence keeps rising to the surface like the shoes, broken bottles and twisted silverware that have heaved up for decades at the Supper Club hilltop.

For the families of victims and survivors, this Memorial Day is another painful reminder that the biggest cold case in Kentucky history remains unsolved.


In the late nineteenth century, public art museums were still very much a new phenomenon, especially as far west as Cincinnati. Following the success of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia, the Women's Art Museum Association was organized in Cincinnati with the intent of bringing such an institution to the region for the benefit of all citizens. Enthusiasm for these goals grew steadily and by 1881 the Cincinnati Museum Association was incorporated. The art museum was at first temporarily housed in the south wing of Music Hall in Over-the-Rhine. [2] Just five years later, or on May 17, 1886, the Art Museum building in Eden Park was dedicated with elaborate ceremonies. [3] In November of 1887, the McMicken School relocated to the newly built museum campus and was renamed the Art Academy of Cincinnati. [4]

The Cincinnati Art Museum enjoyed the support of the community from the beginning. Generous donations from a number of prominent Cincinnatians, including Melville E. Ingalls, [5] grew the collection to number in the tens of thousands of objects, which soon necessitated the addition of the first of several Art Museum expansions.

In 1907 the Schmidlapp Wing opened, which was followed by a series of building projects. The addition of the Emery (named after Cincinnati philanthropists Thomas J. Emery and his wife Mary Emery), Hanna and French wings in the 1930s enclosed the courtyard and gave the Art Museum its current rectangular shape and provided the space in which the American, European and Asian collections are currently shown.

Renovations during the late 1940s and early 1950s divided the Great Hall into two floors and the present main entrance to the Art Museum was established. The 1965 completion of the Adams-Emery wing increased our facility resources yet further, adding space for the permanent collection, lecture halls and temporary exhibition galleries.

In 1993, a $13 million project restored the grandeur of the Art Museum's interior architecture and uncovered long-hidden architectural details. This project included the renovation of one of the Art Museum's signature spaces, the Great Hall. In addition, new gallery space was created and lighting and climate control were improved. The Art Museum's temporary exhibition space was expanded to approximately 10,000 square feet (930 m 2 ) to accommodate major temporary exhibitions. In 1998, the museum's board decided to separate the museum from the Art Academy of Cincinnati. [6]

By the turn of the twenty-first century, the Art Museum's collection numbered over 60,000 objects and, today, is the largest in the state of Ohio. In 2003, the Cincinnati Art Museum deepened its ties with the Greater Cincinnati community by opening the popular and expansive Cincinnati Wing, the first permanent display of a city's art history in the nation. In addition, on May 17, 2003, the Art Museum eliminated its general admission fee forever, made possible by The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation. [7] In 2005, the Art Academy of Cincinnati officially left the museum's Eden Park campus, relocating to Over-the-Rhine. [8]

As of June 2020, Mount Adams, home of the Cincinnati Art Museum and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, was undergoing major renovation, including a new outdoor civic and art space titled "Art Climb". [9] Art Climb includes a staircase from the sidewalk near the intersection of Eden Park Drive and Gilbert Avenue leading to the art museum entrance. Consisting of multiple flights of steps, Art Climb opens up the museum grounds, connects the museum to its neighbors, and provides a space to incorporate outdoor artworks.

The art museum has paintings by several European masters, including: Master of San Baudelio, Jorge Ingles, Sandro Botticelli (Judith with Head of Holofernes), Matteo di Giovanni, Domenico Tintoretto (Portrait of Venetian dux Marino Grimani), Mattia Preti, Bernardo Strozzi, Frans Hals, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (St. Thomas of Villanueva), Peter Paul Rubens (Samson and Delilah) and Aert van der Neer. The collection also includes works by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet (Rocks At Belle Isle), Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso. The museum also has a large collection of paintings by American painter Frank Duveneck (Elizabeth B. Duveneck).

The museum's Decorative Arts and Design collection includes over 7,000 works, including works by Paul de Lamerie, Karen LaMonte, Kitaro Shirayamadani, Jean-Pierre Latz, and many more. [10] [11]

Watch the video: Cincinnati Fire Museum


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