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January 23, 2021

Incredible Then-and-Now Photos Show How Cincinnati Has Changed in 70 Years

Settled in 1788, Cincinnati is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the government seat of Hamilton County. It is located at the northern side of the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers, the latter of which marks the state line with Kentucky.

Then-and-now Cincinnati


The city is the economic and cultural hub of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, the fastest growing economic power in the Midwestern United States based on increase of economic output. It is Ohio’s largest metropolitan area and the nation’s 29th-largest. Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio and 64th in the United States.

A series of photos from Michael G Smith taken between 1939 and 1941 by his grandfather Nelson Ronsheim compared with photos of the same location that he took in 2009. How much has Cincinnati changed in 70 years?

Looking east down Hill St. to the river over three generations. The two houses on the far right of the top photo are visible five houses in from the right of second photo (see key to right of photo). Original photo (top) taken April 1939 by Nelson Ronsheim (my grandfather). Second photo was taken about 1952 by Jerry Smith (my father) and bottom photo October 2009 by me, Michael Smith

Looking down Main St. from just above Seitz St. toward St. Peter German Evangelical Church on the right (now demolished). Cross street beyond lower steps is Mulberry; nearer cross street (mostly obscured by landing) is Seitz. The nearest building on the left (301 Seitz) and the turreted building on the right, just this side of the church, still stand. The stairs are located along the path of the Mt. Auburn Incline (demolished 1898). Original photo November 1941 by Nelson Ronsheim. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

Cincinnati Over-the-Rhine; the nearest steeple is St. John Church. While the steeple still stands, the church is gone. St. Matthew's Church at W. Liberty and Elm Street, visible beyond St. John, is long gone. Photographed Septembe 1940 from Jackson Hill Park by Nelson Ronsheim. This photo was an award winner at the 1940 Master Photo Finishers of America International Exhibition in Chicago. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

Cinncinnati and Over-the-Rhine from the vicinity of the Walker St. dead end. Salem United Church of Christ is nearest, then Old St. Mary's Church. Original photo by Nelson Ronsheim October 1940. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

Laurel St. (now Ezzard Charles) looking west toward Union Terminal. Original photo April 1939 by Nelson Ronsheim. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

Looking down Monastery St. toward downtown. Original photo by Nelson Ronsheim December 1939. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

Mt Adams as seen from from the old reservoir. Original photo January 1942 by Nelson Ronsheim. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

Overlooking Boal St. from above, in the distance is Holy Cross Monastery in Mt. Adams. Original photo by Nelson Ronsheim April 1941. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

The 5th St. Viaduct in downtown Cincinnati frames a steam locomotive on Eggleston Ave. Original photo by Nelson Ronsheim, November 1940. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

The corner of E. Liberty Street (now known as Liberty Hill) and Highland Avenue. Original photo May 1939 by Nelson Ronsheim. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

Mt Adams, Kilgour St., Oregon St. and Imaculata Church as they appeared in 2009 and 1939. The retaining wall to the right of the photo was built in 1938 as part of the Columbia Parkway/Fifth Street Viaduct project. Prior to 1938, Oregon, Baum and Kilgour Streets ran parallel to each other all the way to Third Street (which would have been off the right side of this photo). Construction of Columbia Parkway entailed replacing parts of Oregon and Baum Streets with this retaining wall, which supported a new section of Oregon Street: a sharp turn southwest, crossing Baum and ending at Kilgour St. In more recent times, the section of Kilgour Street--visible above--from its intersection with Oregon, southeast to Third was removed. Both photos were taken from the Columbia Parkway Viaduct. Original photo by Nelson Ronsheim April 1939. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith

View of downtown from the George Hunt Pendleton House at 559 Liberty Hill in the Prospect Hill District. In the left foreground may be seen the historic buildings at 533 to 539 13th Street, while the nearer buildings, in the right foreground (top photo) on Dandridge Street, have been demolished. Original photo May 1939 by Nelson Ronsheim. 2009 photo by Michael G Smith 2009




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