When we lived close to Pittsburgh I would sometimes take old photos and recreate them with the current view. Being a city that has developed significantly since the 1950s, Columbus doesn’t have the quantity of old buildings to match up with current photos, it still offers enough to make for an interesting Sunday afternoon.
Most of the old photographs are from the Library of Congress website, and are in the Detroit Photographic Company section of the online photos (easily the best collection of vintage photos anywhere).
For this effort we made our way up High Street from the south end of downtown to the north end, where the former railroad station was once located.
We start with the grand old Southern Hotel. Still there, and still in the hotel business, it hasn’t changed much from the street view since 1910. A few horse and wagons parked instead of cars, and obviously no traffic lights!
We continued north on High Street, stopping at State Street to take a view back south towards where we just came.
Interestingly none of the 1910 buildings seem to still exist, and those that replaced them have also aged long enough to be re purposed into other functions. Most noteworthy is the large building on the far right on the new photo – it was for many years the downtown flagship Lazarus Department Store, which closed in 2003.
Turning around and looking north on High Street – the State Capitol Building on the right (just out of view). I would estimate this photo to be from between 1910-1915, with the presence of a few automobiles.
Note the two 12-15 floor high buildings on the right. The shorter one was the tallest in the city when completed in 1901, with the slightly taller one surpassing it in 1906. One interesting bit of trivia, one of the original leaders of the NFL was a Columbus native, and as the president of the league their headquarters was in the building on the right from 1927 until 1939.
Along the street in the distance you see mass transit – a street car in the 1910 photo, and a bus in the new one.
A second view of Broad and High Street. The older photo was obviously taken from the 2nd or 3rd floor, which I can’t recreate exactly since the buildings are all closed to the public.
It is amazing that since Broad & High is often considered the center of Ohio, being the two main streets in the city directly across from the Capitol that the small buildings on the northeast corner survive to this day, albeit with significant remodeling.
This view also gives a closer view of the transportation choices of the times.
One last view of Broad & High. The line of streetcars in 1910 and buses now.
Another block north brings us to Gay Street. Note the buildings on the northeast corner are all still in existence – although the concept of a Target store was still 50 years away.
Long Street – The Atlas Building has always been a presence at this corner. Not much about the exterior has changed, a couple of neighbors are missing though. Note that Long Street was a two way street in 1910, with the streetcar tracks down the middle.
High Street at Spring Street – Absolutely nothing remains, most has been replaced in the last 40 years.
Even on a Sunday it was easy to get a bus in every photo, as they seemed to pass by about every 5 minutes. The old photos also had a streetcar in nearly every one.
Our final stop on High Street – Union Station. This location on High Street was the location of the main railway station for Columbus from 1851 until the last train left in 1977. The wonderful building was demolished by 1979.
The station was replaced with a convention center, and later the arcade (shopping mall – not video games) was replaced with shops and restaurants built over the freeway in a style that recalls the architecture of the original.
The convention center and hotel sits exactly where the main concourse was located.
It still remains a public gathering space, only for a different purpose.
With that our time travelling up High Street came to an end. Look for more in future visits to other cities (Chicago, Cleveland) or even more in Columbus.
As noted in previous postings the Cincinnati Union Terminal is a masterpiece of art deco that was completed in 1933. It has the largest semi-dome in the western hemisphere, measuring 180 feet wide by 106 feet high.
Once it closed as a rail station in the early 1970s it lived on briefly as a shopping mall before becoming the Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990.
It is immensely popular, with the original information booth serving as the ticket booth for the museums.
Fortunately each weekend day they offer tours of the building. While (as noted in other posts) portions of the building are undergoing restorations, it is still an amazing place to see any of it.
Our docent lead us on an hour tour, giving highlights and details.
The art deco touch is evident throughout, including this ticket booth for one of the smaller theaters.
Among the highlights are the massive mosaic murals on the main rotunda, as well as others hidden in corridors. The detail in the murals are amazing.
All depict either transportation or industry of Cincinnati over the years (up to 1932).
An ice cream shop off the main rotunda was once the women’s tea room. The entire room is Rookwood (a famed Cincinnati ceramics pottery company).
While it was abandoned as a train station in the 1970s, Amtrak has returned and uses a small portion of the building. It too has a great art deco look, with inlaid wood depicting railroad scenes.
A bank of phone booths grace one wall – without phones, but you can always close the door and use your cell phone.
Pierre Bourdelle was a framed French artist who designed linoleum panels with floral design for the walls of the women’s lounge.
Fortunately it is no longer a women’s lounge so anyone (including me) can see it.
A private dining room, and former men’s lounge, has a large mural of a map of Cincinnati and nearby northern Kentucky on the wall and mirrored walls giving a great effect.
A second view of the room.
Finally a stop in the main dining room that features some recently discovered food themed artwork.
The Cincinnati Union Terminal was, and continues to be, one of Ohio’s great buildings.
For the past 7 years the National Guitar Museum has had a travelling exhibit on the history of Guitar. This exhibit has been on display at 21 science museums, with Cincinnati’s turn ending soon.
With more than 60 items on display, the exhibit gives an excellent overview of the history of stringed instruments, as well as the science behind the guitar. The example below is an Oud, a Persian instrument similar to a lute.
The exhibit covered everything from banjos to electric guitar and synthesizers.
The artistic aspect was emphasized.
As well as some unusual designs.
The rare Gibson Harp Guitar.
Any exhibit on guitar must have a Gibson Les Paul
And a Fender Stratocaster!
Gresch was well represented, including this dobro
And a White Falcon
The quantity and quality of the guitars was very impressive. As a photographer the lighting and reflective glass/plastic was very challenging. One would think ‘world class museums’ could do better.
Our first trip of the year always seems to be down to Cincinnati, and 2019 started out the same. We were headed to the Cincinnati Museum Center for a guitar exhibit (in a separate posting), but since we were there we checked out the rest of the exhibits that we could.
The Cincinnati Museum Center is in the 80+ year old Union Terminal, and anything that age needs a little love now and then. The Museum Center has been in a mult-year refurbishing program, and as such much was still closed (but the remainder is scheduled to open in the spring).
Still the annual holiday train display was present.
Nearby was a Lego dispay
The display featured numerous Cincinnati landmarks including the famed Roebling Suspension bridge.
The Cincinnati Music Hall
And a Baltimore & Ohio Railway Freight building.
The Natural History Museum is still closed as well, but they do have a nice dinosaur exhibit open in the meantime.
Our final tour of this visit was one I was looking forward to – a tour of architecture of and from the El train. The tour would take us into a number of El stations, as well as checking out some of Chicago’s finest architecture from a view most don’t see – 20 feet up from the El platforms.
We made our way to our first station in the pouring rain. The group of 9 people were more than happy when we arrived at the Washington and Wabash Station. Rebuilt and opened just a year ago, this station is sometimes referred to as the Millennium Station as it is located just a block from the park (but to any Chicagoan it will always be Washington/Wabash).
The canopy is made of steel and glass, with waves that are to evoke the feeling of nearby Lake Michigan.
As you enter the station you are greeting by a significant amount of artwork.
A major portion of the tour was focused on the nearby buildings. We had seen the Sullivan Center previously, but on this tour we had the mix of the canopy of the station with the classic lines of the building.
This row of 5 floor buildings are survivors from the 1800s, and are classic buildings. All they need is someone to come along with $40-50 million to purchase and rehab them (perhaps into boutique hotels!)
We made our way clockwise around the loop to the stations at State and Van Buren, aka the Harold Washington Library Station.
While the station is a fairly typical El station, it has great views of the Fisher Building and the Monodnock Building.
The Fisher Building is an 1896 Daniel Burnham masterpiece. As with many buildings it was built in two phases. Note the bay windows on the portion closest to the camera, then a flat face just beyond that.
The building’s terracotta has numerous sculptures featuring fish and crabs, as well as mythical creatures.
The northbound view of Dearborn Street with the Monodnock on the left and the Standard Club on the right.
The rain and the Monodnock gave a basic light added character.
We had the good fortune of having the CTA Holiday Train roll through the station as we were checking out the sights. A Chicago tradition since 1992, the train is decorated by volunteers and corporate sponsor.
Prior to Christmas they will run open air flatbed cars with Santa on them (check out the blog posting on the CTA Skokie Repair shop for more details as it was being prepared when we were there in October).
Throughout our tour the CTA employees were more than helpful, holding the train briefly while we boarded en mass or letting us through the turnstiles without addition payment to check out the stations.
I am certain to them it is just a job, but how cool would it be to drive an El train around all day.
The Quincy Station was the highlight of the tour. It was opened in 1897 and is essentially the same as the day it opened (with a few additional safety features).
They even have a couple of the original (unused) fare boxes mounted on the wall
It is the only station in the system that does not have advertising, rather they have period correct ads from the early days of the station.
Interestingly the ad on the left for the South Shore could still be valid, as that commuter rail still runs down into Indiana.
The platform maintains the same look. Quite the contrast to the skyscrapers in the background (including the 1400′ high Willis/Sears Tower directly behind the platform).
Again the lighting adds to the overall look.
We continued around the loop, crossing Randolph Street past the Palace Theater.
We made a turn to the west at the northwest corner of the loop, giving a great view of the wood planking for the tracks as well as one of the control stations.
Our final stop was at the Clinton Station in the West Loop. With the recent construction of very tall buildings, and the rain, the views were diminished this day, but it still gave some great symmetry shots.
This station is next to Union Station. The building in the background was once a large warehouse but has been re purposed to condo’s.
The view back towards the loop. It is interesting how this 100+ year old transportation still works, skirting past the massive skyscrapers.
We were at a Metra Commuter Rail station and had the good fortune of seeing their Holiday Train as well! Talk about good luck (even with the pouring rain).
As always our volunteer docent was knowledgeable and personable. With so many tacky tourist hop on hop off bus type businesses in large American cities, the non profit, mostly volunteer Chicago Architecture Foundation is a real treasure. We are looking forward to returning for more tours.