Monday, December 7, 2009

"Always Coca Cola"

Standing at the base of a pile of ruble that had once been 1/4 of the Ault & Wiborg Building, one couldn't help but remember the slogan that had been used from 1993-2000 by the soft drink giant who used this building as a billboard for so many years.

I can remember laying in my bed listening to the "top 8 at 8" on Q102 as a kid and hearing those "Always Coca Cola" radio commercials. I can also remember around the same time going to Reds games at Cinergy Field and seeing the "Coke" billboard painted on the side as well as the "Sprite" advertisement that was often on the building's water tower.

- April 2009 photo showing one of the buildings most recent advertising wraps before it was demolished. Photo by Flickr user: LiseBelle

As I got older, grabbed a camera and made a hobby out of exploring abandoned buildings, myself and my exploring friends always dismissed this building as nothing more than a parking garage and never got around to checking it out up close. My friend Paul once sent me this photograph and asked me if I had ever been inside, noting that the building "looked abandoned:"

Despite Paul's friendly suggestion we never did make it there while the building was intact and the next time Paul and I would speak about the subject he would be informing me that it might be too late:

- Photo by Paul B. from "Island Eye's" recent flight.

Now, with the building coming down, the QC/D exploring crew wasn't sure if there would be anything to see or if it would even be possible to get close enough to take a look.

It's late one night and I'm sitting on Facebook, procrastinating the four page analysis I have to write. Dr. Venkman is also checking the news feed and we strike up a conversation in Facebook chat. A quick discussion and one hour later; I've quickly typed up a four page, double spaced, 12 pt. font speech analysis (I got a 98% by the way) and I'm meeting up with Venkman on the deserted city streets at 2 A.M. for some impulsive, late night exploration.

Our original plans fall through and then I remember Paul's photos and we head on over to the "Coca Cola building."

The sidewalk is closed so that any passersby won't be hit by any rubble or debris coming from the crumbling building. Proctor and Gamble had recently purchased the property with the intention to demolish it and create more surface parking spots for it's nearby headquarters and recently constructed child care facility.

Climbing a small stone wall and watching our step in the mess of concrete and rebar, we stumbled around the construction equipment in the shadow of the P&G Towers.

Taking refuge beneath the sheet metal covering in the parking lot we readied our tripods and began photographing the exterior of the building...

...assessing the situation and debating how to proceed.


The building was obviously wide open on this side, but should we climb over all that rubble to enter a building that is partially demolished, potentially unstable, most likely empty, but could have a unique view from the roof? As we debated the decision, someone had to use the port-a-john.

In the end, we decided against entering. Although we've explored half demolished buildings before the risks didn't seem to outweigh the potential benefits in this situation. We had only tennis shoes, no boots. It was cold outside, how would we climb back out, was there anything historical or noteworthy inside worth documenting and could the view from the top be any good? We didn't care too much to find out and instead returned to our vehicle and respective dwellings to turn in for the night. Seicer would come to find later in the week that the rooftop view was interesting, but not much was left inside.

On yet another cold night this past week, Seicer, Starbuck and myself would take a walk just to see what was left of the "Coca Cola" building.

In the time since I had last been there, P&G had installed a new playground and grass that looked like the Brady Bunch's Astroturf.

They're either going to have to be really careful when they tear down the rest of the building or the sons and daughters of Proctor & Gamble will have a brick wall and broken glass windows to complement their play area.

Personally I think P and G's new child care facility would fit in better in Mason or some other architecturally insignificant suburb. However, despite this eye sore amongst the skyscrapers and streetscapes of downtown, I'll always remember that Coca Cola advertisement.

"Always Coca Cola."


  1. Great pictures. I pass that building twice a day. I loved it (but then I love The Dennison Hotel too).

    The building would have been a natural for studios-lofts-cafes. And the architectural texture of the area would have been maintained. Since the place was already a parking garage, I can't invoke the Joni Mitchell song. But paradise has clearly not been enhanced.

  2. My Favorite Blog entry yet, glad you made it out there to take a look!

  3. Your pictures always blow my mind.
    Even the mundane shot of the truck with P&G in the background looks like art.

  4. I just wanted to clarify, that it was the truck that is mundane, not the picture, which is a work of art.

  5. I'm a lot older than most of your fans, and things like the Coca Cola building and signs are a nice memory even for me. Looking at your photos and reading your commentary makes me think of all the changes that have taken place in Cincinnati since i was a kid. Thanks for capturing buildings like this before they are gone forever... except in our memories. If only you were around when i was younger! You could have captured even more.
    Thanks so much for your great website!

  6. @12thstreet:
    It wasn't the most glamorous looking building in the world and there are times when I think demolishing something is worthwile so long as what replaces it is better, but the crap P&G has put in it's place looks terrible and will be surrounded only by more surface parking.

    Thanks for the compliments man, I appreciate the support!

    Thanks for checking out the site and reading! It truly sucks seeing signs like this come down, even some of the other faded advertisements that still exist around Cincinnati are being covered up or painted over.

    I really wish they would've renovated this building into apartments or studio space.