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Cincinnati (Ohio) City Engineer - Rapid Transit Records

 Collection
Identifier: ON-87-3

Scope and Content

The records of the Cincinnati City Engineers' Office contain material related to a proposed rapid transit system for the city, along with blueprints and records of the construction of Central Parkway in downtown Cincinnati. The records also include volumes containing the minutes of the Rapid Transit Board of Commissioners, estimates for the construction costs of Central Parkway, and construction designs for the parkway. The collection also contains photographs and negatives which document both the rapid transit and Central Parkway projects, along with the construction of Columbia Parkway, Lower River Road, and River Road.

The photographic section of the City Engineer collection has been digitized through a grant funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) from the State Library of Ohio in order to make the records freely available on the Web. The digital collection is available on the University of Cincinnati Libraries Digital Collections page.

Scope and Contents The photographic section of the City Engineer collection has been digitized through a grant funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) from the State Library of Ohio in order to make the records freely available on the Web. The digital collection is available on the University of Cincinnati Libraries Digital Collections page.

Dates

  • 1851-1957

Creator

Language of Materials

The records are in English

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

History of Cincinnati City Engineer and the Rapid Transit Commission

The Board of Rapid Transit Commissioners was created by the Bauer Bill which the Ohio State legislature passed on May 17, 1915. The commission was composed of five members, each serving a term of five years, "one appointment to be made each year after the start" after the commission's founding. All of the members were required to be residents of Hamilton County and three were required to reside within Cincinnati city limits. Commissioners were appointed by the mayor but were entirely independent. The members of the first board organized November 29, 1915, were Edward W. Edwards, chairman, William Cooper Procten, William A. Hopkins, Edward H. Dornette, and Christian Schott. Edwards and Schott both served the entire fourteen-year span of the board. The Commission was dissolved by provision of the new city charter effective December 31, 1928 and the duties of the board passed to the city manager.

Under the provision of the Bauer Bill, the board had the power to issue bonds subject to referendum. In April 1916, a $6 million bond issue for the development of a Rapid Transit system was approved by voters, 39,726 to 6652. It was expected by the public that before the expenditure of these funds, the commission would have a definite plan for the construction and routing of a rapid transit system. In addition, the system was to be leased to an operator.

The Rapid Transit Commission developed a plan including a line encircling the residential areas of the city and bisecting the downtown area. Construction of the new rapid system began on January 28, 1920 with the excavation of the canal bed at Walnut Street. The plan was to include 2.45 miles of subway, 9 miles of open track, 20 miles of tunnel, 3.4 miles of trestle, 1.4 miles of other elevated structures. The cars were to operate at 45 m.p.h. speed, at 69 second intervals, and were organized in four-car trains. Under this system, 110,000 passengers could be transported per hour. This was indeed to cost $6 million, which had been raised by the first bond issue. However, by February 1921, the chief manager of the commission stated that only eleven miles of the original sixteen planned could be completed for $6 million. By 1928, it was estimated that $12-13 million would be needed to complete the plan. The subway was completed from Walnut Street to Brighton and open track was constructed from Brighton to Oakley.

The Rapid Transit System was plagued from the start by financial, legal and political problems. One of the financial problems involved a conflict between the simultaneous issuance of Rapid Transit and city bonds. The transit system faced many delays due to injunctions and damage claims from property owners affected by the transit route. Appointments to the board were along Republican Party lines causing disaffection from opposing parties. Irregularities in appointments to the engineering department resulted in the chief engineer of the city, Frank Krug, being employed as the chief engineer of the Rapid Transit Commission as well.

In 1926, Murray Seasongood, the first mayor under the Charterite government, charged the Rapid Transit Commissioners with negligence, mismanagement of funds, vacillations of public trust and disregard of expert advice. In 1927, he suspended the annual salary of the commissioners. After the Commission was dissolved in 1928, the back salaries were paid. After this, a number of attempts were made to complete the rapid transit system, but none proved successful.

In addition to the Rapid Transit Project, the Rapid Transit Board was responsible for the construction of Central Parkway. The collection contains documentation of the parkway construction as well as records of general street improvements overseen by the City Engineer's Office. Photographs were used to document the negligence of previous administrations by the reform governments.

The photographic section of the City Engineer collection has been digitized through a grant funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) from the State Library of Ohio in order to make the records freely available on the Web. The digital collection is available on the University of Cincinnati Libraries Digital Collections page.

Biographical / Historical

The photographic section of the City Engineer collection has been digitized through a grant funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) from the State Library of Ohio in order to make the records freely available on the Web. The digital collection is available on the University of Cincinnati Libraries Digital Collections page.

Extent

34 Linear Feet

Overview

Records of the city engineer's office, including files of the Rapid Transit Commission, the subway construction project, and records of street improvements; photographs, blueprints, minutes, reports, studies, and correspondence.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 8 series by type of material.

Physical Location

Archives and Rare Books Library

Separated Material

2.5 linear feet removed for disposal 8-1-13 (containing nitrate negatives)
Title
Finding aid for the Cincinnati (Ohio) City Engineer - Rapid Transit Records
Status
Edited Full Draft
Author
Finding aid prepared by Archives and Rare Books Staff. Revisions prepared by Angela Vanderbilt, Project Archivist.
Date
2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Sponsor
Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the State Library of Ohio

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Rare Books Library Repository

Contact:
8th Floor Blegen Library
2602 McMicken Circle
P.O. Box 210113
Cincinnati Ohio 45221-0113
513-556-1959