Thursday, February 20, 2014

They Put Up a Parking Lot - Central Parkway, Court and Walnut

Having done quite a bit of research of the Hamilton County Recorder's Office lately, I am familiar with the parking lot at the corner of Central Parkway, Court and Walnut. However, I wondered what was there before...
CAGIS, 2011
This was once a crowded half-block of buildings. With the courthouse just to the east and the Court Street Market House to the west, business flourished. It was purchased by the United States Bank, prior to 1838.
1869 Titus Map - Source
The 1887 Sanborn Insurance Map shows just how many buildings once stood here - six fronting Canal Street (Central Parkway), five fronting Walnut Street and four fronting Court Street, with many subdivided into multiple shops and tenements.
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
There was grain storage, the Ohio Nation Guard Armory Hall, vinegar manufactures and various offices. At the corner of Court and Walnut stood the Bavaria Building, constructed in 1882-1883. This building also contained some county offices with its location near the courthouse.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Oct 1, 1882; pg. 9
Cincinnati Enquirer; Aug 31, 1883; pg. 7
Cincinnati Enquirer; Apr 5, 1884; pg. 8

The year 1891 shows few changes in the block but the rising interest in electricity is shown by The Jones Bro's Electric Company. The vinegar factory is still in business along with a broom factory, printing shop, warehouses and offices. The Bavaria Block is clearly marked at the corner.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Many changes occurred in Cincinnati between 1904 and 1930, including the construction of Central Parkway (with the Rapid Transit Tunnels underneath), the demolishing of the Court Street Markethouse, and a city-wide street resurfacing project. However, not much changed for the buildings at Court and Walnut, except their businesses.
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The Bavaria Building is still standing and within the half-block there is a plumber, a print shop, Fry Bros & Co., selling laundry supplies, along with a box factory and seed storage.
1926, S. Canal Street, Frey Bros. Warehouse - Source

South side of Canal Street, looking west, Nov. 13, 1926 - Cropped from the original, Source

North side of Court Street, looking west, Oct. 3, 1929 - Cropped from the original, Source
By 1950, the block is starting to change. With the automobile becoming the primary source of transportation, service stations were needed in convenient locations and parking needed to access the county offices. However, the buildings facing Court Street remained, with one becoming a bowling alley.
1950 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
One by one, the buildings came down for more parking until 1968, when only the Bavaria Building was standing. By then is was called the Rose Exterminator Building, and as a Facebook follower said it was known for "miles and hours of parties, people and love"!

In 1996, the only remnant of this past busy block came down, with no explanation in the newspapers, just a photo showing its demolition.
1996 CAGIS - Source
Cincinnati Post; July 4, 1996; pg. 2
Thanks to Amy, a Facebook follower, for sharing the following pictures. Many more can be seen on her page, including interior pictures before demolition.

Growing up in Cincinnati with all these flat parking lots, it is hard to imagine just how dense and busy downtown used to be.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Court Street Market - Since 1829

Stumbling across pictures of Court Street in the 1920s got me thinking about the Court Street Market. When was it built? When did the market building come down? When did the street markets close? So many questions I just had to answer.
Undated photo of the Court Street Market. The market house can be seen on the far right. Source
Court Street Market was started in 1829, according to this site, however the name was originally Canal Market, since it was located just one block south of the Miami Canal (present day Central Parkway). This made it very convenient for market sellers to gather there produce, meat and other goods to bring to their stands. According to and confirmed by Avril-Bleh Marketplace and Delhi, there were tunnels that ran under the market for a "pig run" to deliver to the butchers. These tunnels also served as a place to hide during the Courthouse Riots of 1884.
The "e" is the Canal Market Building.
Map of the city of Cincinnati / from actual survey by Joseph Gest, city surveyor, 1838; engraved by Wm. Haviland.
While the market building stood between Vine and Walnut Streets, all of Court Street from Central Avenue to Main Street was once lined with market booths, selling all kinds of goods and produce. The market building was a common meeting place, with many political meetings mentioned in the newspapers.

Canal Market at right
1869 Titus Map - Source
Court Street Market, looking west from Walnut - Source
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
By the turn of the 20th century, some residents wanted to limit the amount of street markets available. By 1912, the market building was declared a health hazard by the city and it was finally torn down in 1915.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Apr 24, 1915; pg. 18
Cincinnati Enquirer; May 2, 1915; pg. 13
1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source

Market Stands at the southwest corner of Vine and Court Streets - Source
Even though the market house was demolished, the stands lining the sidewalks remained for many years. In 1962, the Cincinnati Post & Time-Star published an article about the Court Street Market and noted there were still a few produce stands on the south side of the street, and the market was open just Tuesday and Thursdays.

1929, Court Street, looking east from Vine. The former market house stood where the cars are parked.  Source
Oct. 3, 1929, Court Street, looking east from Vine, after street improvements were completed. Source
Oct. 3, 1929, Court Street, looking west from Walnut, after street improvements were completed. Source

In 1988, an effort was made by the city to spruce up the Court Street Market by renovating the sidewalk areas, the parking island and adding signs and a bell tower:
Cincinnati Post: Nov.25, 1987; pg. 3b
However, by 2003 only one vegetable vendor remained on Tuesdays and Thursdays as the city's attention turned to renovating Findlay Market. If you happen to visit one of the many businesses still open on Court Street, you will still see the remnants of the once bustling market.
Court Street, looking west from Walnut. The reconstructed bell tower can be seen here. Source - Google Streetview, 2012
2013, Digging Cincinnati History

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Henry Boyd - Former Slave and Cincinnati Entrepreneur

In honor of Black History Month, I want to highlight people from Cincinnati I have learned about over the years. The first is Henry Boyd, who I read about in "Front Line of Freedom" by Keith P. Griffler. This book is about the Underground Railroad and how African Americans were truly the leaders in starting and maintain this network to allow slaves to escape bondage in the South.

Henry Boyd was born into slavery on April 12, 1802 in Kentucky. His slave master gave him permission to earn money to buy his freedom. At the age of 18, he was employed by the Kenhawa Salt Works in present-day West Virginia, where he chopped wood and kept watch on the salt-kettles. After earning enough money, he went back to his master and paid to become a freed man. While in Kentucky, he learned the carpentry trade.
1838 Map of Cincinnati by Joseph Gest - Source
He journeyed to Cincinnati in 1826, using almost all his savings to arrive here. When searching for work in this city, he faced discrimination at every shop, even though there was plenty of work. He did find work with an Englishman after proving the quality of his work. However, the fellow journeymen refused to work with him and planned to quit their jobs. The shop owner decided he could not hire Boyd after all.

Dejected, Boyd finally found work unloading pig iron on the riverfront and was a loyal employee to the merchant, he was promoted to being the janitor for his store. When another carpenter was too drunk to install a counter for the merchant, Henry proved his skills so well that the merchant also hire him to build a frame building for him.
Tester Bed by Henry Boyd - Source
With the money from this job and others, Henry went on to create his own furniture shop, which stood at the corner of Broadway and Eighth Streets. His bedsteads were the feature of the business and in 1833, his invention was patented by George Porter, since African-Americans at the time were unable to legally secure patents themselves. His creative design, called "wood screw and swelled rail" allowed the frame to remain tightly assembled without the use of iron bolts.
Henry Boyd, Broadway, above Eighth street. This establishment has long enjoyed a distinguished reputation for bedstead work of high finish, fancy style, and excellent quality, although its operations are not confined to that article alone. Boyd works twenty hands.
The peculiarity of Boyd's bedsteads-which are the patent right and left, wood screw, and swelled rail-is the solidity of fit, when put together; which enhances their durability; as well as forms a perfect protection from vermin, which find no harbor at the joints.
Cist, Charles. Sketches and Statistics of Cincinnati in 1851.  Cincinnati: W. H. Moore, 1851.
H. Boyd; Cin' Ohio - Source
Henry and his family lived on New Street, which ran between Sycamore and Broadway and 6th and 7th Streets. His name appears in the city directories starting in 1834. His business was very successful. In 1835, he was worth $3,000 (equal to $65,763 in 2012). He was able to also purchase his brother and sister out of slavery. His business employed people all of backgrounds, both black and white.

1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
15 New Street, Home of Henry Boyd from approx. 1834 until 1886, outlined in red.
According to abolitionist Martin Delany, Boyd was "widely known among abolitionist". When Calvin Fairbank was released from a Kentucky prision after serving his time for freeing slaves, his first stop in Cincinnati was to see Henry Boyd. In previous years, Fairbank had brought fugitive slaves to Boyd's house. Boyd continued the slaves' journey on the Underground Railroad. Fellow abolitionist Huntington Lyman recalled in 1898 that he believed it was Henry Boyd's house that was "Station A", not the home of Levi Coffin, as is widely understood.
Boyd Tester Bed at the Golden Lamb, Lebanon, Ohio - Source
Being a successful African-American business man in the mid-1800s brought others to become jealous and fires happened more than once at his manufacturing business. This caused insurance companies to no longer cover his business. Shortly after 1860, Boyd closed the Broadway street shop, however he was still listed in the furniture business until 1870. He continued to live in his New Street home until his death on March 1, 1886. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
Spring Grove Cemetery Burial Record for Henry Boyd - Source
African-American historian Carter G. Woodson mentions Henry Boyd in his "Journal of Negro History" in 1916. He states that Boyd and his family were in favor of miscegenation, or the mixing of races, which was looked down upon by both African-Americans at the time.
"Moreover, having to do chiefly with white men he was charged by his people with favoring the miscegenation of races. Whether or not this was well founded is not yet known, but his children and grandchildren did marry whites and were lost in the so-called superior race." (Woodson)
Boyd's family was considered Mulatto (light-skinned) in the census records for 1850 to 1870 and white in 1880. It is possible that Henry was the son of his slave master and could explain why he could work to buy his freedom. Even with these negative accusations, Boyd clearly helped his fellow man with his hiring practices and involvement in the Underground Railroad.
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Former location of Henry Boyd's house outlined in red
Boyd's house on New Street was demolished sometime between 1904 and 1928. It was replaced with a parking garage. A newer garage was built in 1972, but there is no recognition for Henry Boyd and his contributions to this city and to the Underground Railroad.
CAGIS Map; 2014 - Source
Sources Used:
Cowan Auctions
     Society of Friends, . "Henry Boyd." The Friend. (1881): 85.
     Woodson, Carter G. The Journal of Negro History. (1916). (accessed February 5, 2014).
     Robert S. , Levine. Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader . Univ of North Carolina Press, 2003. boyd delany&source=gbs_navlinks_s (accessed February 5, 2014).
     "Proceedings Ohio Anti-Slavery Convention. Held At Putnam, On The Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, And Twenty-Fourth Of April, 1835.." . (accessed February 5, 2014).
     Griffler, Keith P. Front Line of Freedom. The University Press of Kentucky, 2004.