Then and Now: An interactive look at Cincinnati's past

The following story is part of a recurring series called "Then and Now," where we compare historic photos from Cincinnati's past to images taken today.

 There’s a contagious excitement in the air.

It’s the mid-1920s, and the automobile, radio and motion picture are feeding a restless craving for speed and new experiences in Cincinnati.

But that feeling eventually disintegrates.

With the dawn of the 1930s, the Great Depression brings bread lines, strikes, bankruptcies and hardships to the Queen City.

This is just a taste of Cincinnati’s past. For most of us, these blips in time are mere memories or words in a history book.

Thanks to preserved photos from the University of Cincinnati's Archives & Rare Books Library, WCPO has opened a window to the past with an interactive look at these historic images.

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.”


  Jan. 1, 1927: Elm Street north from McFarland Street





In 1927, the horse and buggy -- also called a roadster -- was still a popular method of transportation. The roadster sitting at the corner of Elm and McFarland (right side of the photo) most likely belonged to a wealthier Cincinnatian because it was a more elegant four-wheeled model.

Elm Street at the time was known for its lavish shops. In the building behind the buggy was American Railway Express, a package shipping service that used railroads to deliver goods -- a precursor to the United Postal Service we use today. Also in this building was the Joseph Lazarus Co., which specialized in women’s hats. In the building next-door, past the intersection of Fourth and Elm streets, was the People's Bank. Famous Specialty Clothing shop, Schuster Electric Company and another hat shop were also in this building. In this same spot today sits a large parking garage. Across the street (left side of the photo) were more clothing and accessory shops, including the Leather Specialty Company.

If you look very closely, the vehicle next to the horse and buggy has a swastika, a symbol adopted by the Nazi Party of Germany in 1920. Before it was associated with the Nazis, the swastika had a brief surge of popularity as a good luck symbol in Western culture. Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and incorporated the symbol into the state flag of Germany. Because Cincinnati is home to a large German heritage, it is unknown if the swastika on the vehicle in this photo was associated with the Nazi party.


  June 5, 1928: McMicken Avenue east from Elm Street





Once called Hamilton Road, McMicken Avenue was renamed for Charles McMicken, the founder of the University of Cincinnati. In 1928, a typewriter manufacturer called Rapid Electrotype Company covered most of the intersection at McMicken and Elm Street (the left side of the photo). The building’s large windows were later bricked over and the entire second floor was demolished – essentially cutting the structure in half. It now sits abandoned.

Behind that was St. Philippus Evangelical Church, which still stands today under the name Philippus United Church of Christ. Farther down McMicken was HW Meier Lumber Yard, which is no longer there.

To the left of the typewriter manufacturer was Over-the-Rhine's historic Jackson Brewery (not pictured), which later closed. The building still stands today. There are currently plans to convert it into a business called Grayscale Cincinnati -- a potential brewery, 192-seat live theater space and 300-person music venue. Cincinnati natives Scott Hand and Dominic Marino are raising money for Grayscale’s development.

To see four more interactive looks at Cincinnati in this "Then and Now" series, you must be a WCPO Insider. Look below for more information on how to become a subscriber.


To continue reading: Subscribe Now or