From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
The Main Hall visible from the library's vestibule.
Super cool! Been here many years, as a river town located on the "western frontier" in the 1800's, Cincinnati grew very rapidly, peaking at the 5th largest city in US around 1900, resulting in many more interesting architectural and cultural elements than might otherwise be associated with a city of it's current size. Other favorite buildings of mine that are still standing: Music Hall, Union Terminal, Dixie Terminal and Carew Tower, each outstanding when first created and still going strong today.
Trust Cincinnati to tear down such a lovely building...
Would have loved to be the librarian there...!Wonder how they safeguarded against fire?
Beautiful library, and memorable photographs. I hope no one remembers to build a shopping center at this location...
I am too young to remember this building, having become a library client only in the mid-1960s, and then at the branch library in my Madeira neighborhood. The current Cincinnati main library is a rather ordinary but very functional brick-faced modern building. I am glad to say that the historic library in my current city of residence, St. Louis, has been preserved and renovated. It is of more recent vintage, 1904-1906. Patrons no longer have to request that books be brought up from the stacks because most of the collection has been made open-stack.
And all of this can now be replaced by an air conditioned sheet-rock room in San Jose. The intricate architecture, the experience, the jobs, all in the dustbin of history. Like watching a DVD instead of going to Radio City.
Beautiful pictures of a by-gone time. Yes computers are different, but every generation has a history and it's reality. I am happy to have paper and not skins or rock and images rather then paintings. Just having a populace that can read is new... Change is both necessary and to be feared - just not stopped.
A spooky looking place. I can imagine Quasimodo grappling about the towered stacks and ladders, and a phantom in the basement. Were the "readers" in the photos real patrons? The badged guard probably steered away unrespectable types. Exactly what titles circulated most and least? To research any topic would be slow and tedious.
By contrast, a $125 3-terabyte hard drive can hold the equivalent of roughly 6 million 250 page volumes, which software can help one search for content, key words and so forth. Millions of texts and other media have been put on line. Have the tools made people better informed or more astute? Probably not.
Then as now, most popular reading involved practical topics, "self-improvement," entertainments, or escape.
Non-beautiful public buildings should be prohibited. Why waste our tax money on building more ugliness into the world?
Many public libraries were built with private money.
I need to get down to Cinci and check out the current library. I've never seen a large library. All of the branches around here small and somewhat disappointing in collection. When I look at my real estate tax bill, I see I am paying for it whether I want to or not!
I'd like to get back into reading as well. I haven't read a book in a couple of years.
Public employees were getting too fat and lazy to climb the stairs anymore so they had to build a new union-accessible building and demolish this wonderful building.
"Public employees were getting too fat and lazy to climb the stairs anymore"
I had the worst stroke survivable; I had a hereditary aneurysm at 54. I cannot climb stairs. I spent one month in a rehabilitation hospital re-learning to walk. I now walk with a service dog for mobility and balance. I can go down a staircase, with my dog and an aide.
Public employees? I was saved by the municipal rescue squad, part of Philadelphia's Fire Department and taken to a publicly owned hospital.
My EM-5 with its 5-axis IS is indispensable.
In a libertarian/conservative world, I would be cast aside.
You would not be "cast aside" in a libertarian/conservative world. Completely untrue statement. You really should look into what socialist/communist's states did to people like you in the past. I think you're opinions are driven from misinformation. It's too sad.
"In a libertarian/conservative world, I would be cast aside."
What an absolute LIE.
As for these library photos they are awesome! I love these old style pics.
Libertarian calls 911:
Nice trolling. Even the buzz words "union" and "public employer" make an appearance. Must be a nightmare for you guys that people still get paid for their work. Better make them slaves at Koch Industries right away…
If Koch can make the subway runs on time why not?
Didn't know we got into politics here... kinda sad, but I guess we all have to go private sector if congress keeps be obstructionists.. How this will affect photography I don't know. It's great though that we can document "things" so much better now. I have a bunch of stereographs of museums from the turn of the century - incredible buildings - and in 3D.
Ah yes, the evil conservatives who go around with hearts full of hate looking for a cripple to knock over. The media and universities have done their jobs well.
My local library is huge and very old. It looks like a castle. Years ago due to cut backs they did away with "book runners" and gave the public access to the shelves. It is very intricate with winding metal stairs etc. They also have an elevator and do their best to make it handicap accessible. Library staff will still help anyone who asks.
Some photos, please?
We forget many stores used to have "runners". In mexico when you go to an auto parts store - no browsing. You ask they get, you can't explain - SOL... That is a huge change we have in so many things to browse as you never know what you find - like this article on the internet..... damn, another 30 min gone... ;)
A lot of stores still do have "runners", and sometimes the police catch them.
Hi JABB66, I don't have any photos on hand BUT please Google Pollard Memorial Library (Lowell, Mass) and select " images". It is an amazing building. The homepage says it opened in 1844.
Hope this is helpful and thank you for the reply. New construction has it's place but I love the old majestic buildings.
"Runners" are a neat concept. Whenever they couldn't find what I wanted I always thought "I bet I could find it". Human nature I guess. Yes, as noted above many stores has runners. In some ways the good old days.
A lot of rational arguments have been behind decisions to demolish amazing buildings over the years - not least in the 50s and 60s.
Luckily, there have also been successful campaigns to save threatened buildings, and many cases showing how modern technology can be used in exciting, creative and sensitive ways to make an old building fit for purpose - a purpose that might not necessarily be the originally intended.
I would visit Cincinnati for the older library, not the new one, guess I don't have to visit Cinnci. That is amazing space, function, and ideology. Most library today are open space for people to surf the web and some might do research, but books are part of the background.
It's best to store books in humidity+temp controlled environments.
Big libraries, even a 100 years ago, had to be specially built to support the weight of the books.
So weight and preservation are two big reason most books aren't on display. Libraries are not bookstores.
It looks like a nice space in which to read, not useful as a library of any size though.
People using computers in modern libraries are often using services like JSTOR, so over the internet, but not really the internet in the coffee shop fashion.
Nice photos! Though I live in Indianapolis, I make frequent trips to Cincinnati on business and pleasure. I love this old river town! I would highly recommend a visit to Cincinnati and please bring your camera. Though the "Old Main" public library is no more, Cincinnati offers many historical buildings and structures, factories, churches/cathedrals, museums, bridges, etc. Cincinnati is an old city (by U.S. standards) with plenty to photograph and plenty of stories to tell, as well.
Click on the source link on the bottom that says Flicker. Then when you fine any particular image you want to see better click the down pointing icon to download the image to your desired place on your computer. I did so for several of the images and even had a brief play in Photoshop CC with camera raw filter to get more detail.
Hope that helps.
Yeah, for all its limitations, Flickr allows archiving and viewing of images at full resolution. Of course, many choose to block downloading of (or simply don't upload full res) for fear of unauthorized usage. I've abandoned such concern for my own work. A few years ago, while teaching, I started a group to feature international work addressing issues of representation (and recontextualizing via photo). https://www.flickr.com/groups/honeymouthalchemy/pool/ Many interesting groups still exist on Flickr. The depth of serious content is still such a contrast to what you find on Instagram - of course, Instagram is not really built for the display of serious work.
All this a bit off topic - library images. That structure looks like it was amazing architecturally. That building probably inspired many to spend an afternoon perusing offerings and reading. Quite wonderful I image.
That is quite a library!
Why are the photos so small? 442x448 pixels for the first one. That is 9.5% of my monitor's available pixels. Can we get a full screen mode please?I can't tell for sure, but they look like very interesting pictures.
Follow the link to the Flickr source where dpreview got the pictures and you can see larger versions.
We're working on a nicer 'full-screen' lightbox viewing mode but something to consider is that often, a photographer/institution is much more comfortable with us using images smaller, as opposed to high/full-resolution so we have to be mindful of that.
Nice story and photos of yesteryear
As I'm reading books full of images by Saul Leiter, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier and the likes, I wonder if my images will be rediscovered in 100 years and be more popular then.
What is it about old images that fascinates?
Bygone era, nostalgia at it's best.
I agree. I love these nostalgic images. I wonder if the youth of today can fully appreciate this. I doubt it though.
Nearly criminal that it was torn down! :-(
Whatever you may like about the aesthetics of this Old Main library: Opera houses don't make for real useable libraries.
Good libraries are about good reading space and access to books, and in this modern era, anytime after 1970, access to data bases.
HAR - so.. these spaces cannot be created within older buildings? We can create so many amazing buildings using modern materials and ingenuity... but adding to an older space is impossible? I say No to that!
It's very difficult, not impossible, but takes extraordinary re-engineering.
Look at the picture of the pages; that child labor was used to fetch books for patrons.
Libraries aren't, and never were, simply reading rooms, those rooms being easy enough to create in older spaces. It's a classic mistake to assume the public features of a building are its whole function.
Perhaps with hundreds of millions of dollars a robot able to retrieve books from the stacks could be built into an old opera house in 2014, but not in the 1950s.
The old opera house makes for nice photos, but I see why it's continued use as a library was considered a problem. (Now if you're saying they could have used the entire opera as the reading space and built separate, but easily accessible stacks, that's possible, but I don't know the situation in Cincinnati in the 1950s.)
I would have said that was a librarian's absolute nightmare. Imagine dropping a book off one of those balconies in the first picture and what a hassle it would have been to get the book and get back to where you were! Not for the faint hearted as well :)
Oh no, it's HowAboutRaw again - making things up!
Be specific in your claims about what you think I'm making up here.
Opera houses, like libraries, are purpose built buildings. And one does not necessarily transform into another.
Real specifically: Libraries are not simply museums for viewing the spines of books on display.
One can tell from photo 1 that the books are not well cared for or likely maintained in a highly ordered manner, those are big failures for a library. And the obvious reason for this fail is that the books aren't really accessible.
It's your habit to speak of things about which you do not know. I generally assume this is happening now because it's so common place.
I know about buildings, I know about storing books and fetching them and I know about high optical quality lenses.
Are you the guy who misrepresented my claims about having used the D800--instead claiming I'd claimed to have owned one?
Whatever: you got yourself in enough trouble about Fuji lenses.
If you can't cite something I've posted here about libraries+books that's incorrect, it would be best if you didn't make such claims.
Yep, I confirmed your lies about my claims about the D800. Noted too, while confirming, your habit of putting words into my claims--eg, claiming I'd said some thing about a Nikon f1.8 85mm lens, when I had not.
Sure, you know about everything.
Far from it, and I don't make up claims. Claims that I then put in writing that can easily be checked the way you do.
So another example of a false claim you've made.
All I pointed out is that theatres don't make great libraries, because libraries are not simply reading rooms, it's also about book storage and retrieval.
I suspect, don't know, that you've not used a library recently.
I like the aesthetics of the photos well enough, but they certainly suggest many problems with the library in the old opera house.
Look at you just talk talk talking on about it. I could care less. I enjoyed the photos.
That's "couldn't care less" that you mean.
I already said they're nice photos. Doesn't mean it wouldn't have been a problematic library space.
No, I could care less, much less. And why do you feel the need to talk talk talk and be so serious about every subject as if you're an expert? It's so easy to spin you up like a little top.
What you wrote means that you actually care about the point I made.
The phrase is "I couldn't care less", and that means that you don't care.
Bad design of buildings results in backassward use often. Attachment to visuals over function has similar problems. Sorry I care about decent library design, I've used some horrid ones.
No, I really could care even less - but soon I can't care any less because I'll stop writing. But I have enough interest because you're spinning like a top. I've said nothing about libraries and you just keep spinning and talking.
By commenting on my comment you've connected your statements to libraries, because those are the subject of my comments--and the child labor thing.
I'll quote my entire original statement that you just had to spout off about:
"Whatever you may like about the aesthetics of this Old Main library: Opera houses don't make for real useable libraries."
"Good libraries are about good reading space and access to books, and in this modern era, anytime after 1970, access to data bases."
And I stand by each of those points.
And you mistake me for someone who cares.
you care enough to keep responding, you cared enough put your 2 cents in about libraries.
Or imagine making a mistake with the stubby little pencils and the note cards when you wrote down the call number. Way, way up at the top stack, you can't find the book, and it's five flights of spiral stairs back down to the card catalog!
No matter-- you got to enjoy such a noble cathedral of literature and lore. Look how many cozy nooks abound, and imagine the people- watching opportunities on the book balconies. But it might not meet ADA regs,, you think? If it still existed today, they'd restore it to an Opera House again! Wait, it's Cincinnati, one of the most stodgy of cities, where they've cancelled a half-finished streetcar project and let their monumental Art Deco train station fall into disrepair again.
If you love old photos and old buildings, try shorpy.com, because that's what they do.
@John - thanks for the link! I like it!
I like to see some old buildings preserved but not every old building can or should be saved. If every old building was preserved nothing new would ever get built.
One has to consider the cost of maintaining such buildings. Someone has to pay the bills. Old buildings with extensive and deteriorating detailing, poor insulation, inefficient layouts, and obsolete ultilities are very expensive to maintain.
I'm glad that in America most of us are not so architecturally attached to the past as you see in most countries throughout Europe. It makes for a nice blend of the old and new while allieving tax payers of unnecessary expenses.
Unfortunately there will still be instances where buildings worthy of preservation are chosen to be demolished. Unfortunate events are a part of life.
Yes - it has to be hard to keep a building like that alive and there are hazards that come with the whole of that interior that I imagine are like diving boards to insurance companies. Still would be nice to have a few of these still around if for nothing else as museums.
Sure, that's reasonable and understandable.