Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Afternoon in the Rust Belt

Unlike upriver sister city, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati wasn't a center of America's steel production and doesn't really fit into the geographical region known as the "Rust Belt." However, the Queen City certainly has its share of shuttered and forgotten factories, former centers of industry and manufacturing. One of the most historical, and often documented, of these locations is the former Crosley Radio Factory.

On a recent afternoon, just after the first of two "snowpocalypses" come through the Midwest, some friends and I went to check out the former Crosley Corporation headquarters. Built in 1928, the building served as Crosley's headquarters until they were purchased by Avco Electronics, who later sold the building in the late 70's. Since then it has been re-purposed, neglected, used for storage and now sits in a slowly decaying, pseudo-abandoned state.

The lower column clad floors had been used for manufacturing radios and appliances while the top floor had once been the original studios for 700 WLW and other Crosley broadcasting stations. In its later years my dad can recall the building being a warehouse for wholesale office furniture and the large amounts of keychains laying around the place leads me to believe it had once been used a production facility for them. Today those who live in the neighborhood have become frustrated with its decay.

The first time I saw the inside of this building was back in 2007. At the time we considered it the "Holy Grail" of Cincinnati urban exploration. Since then the building has been slowly cleaned out of its contents into dumpsters below and been tagged up with more and more graffiti.

While not as desolate as the abandoned industrial landscapes of Detroit, the Crosley Building could see a new purpose. Neighborhood advocates and the city have been working hard to try and raise awareness of the building's re-development potential.

On a cold winter afternoon, we returned to the Crosley Building...

- The building's interior courtyard.

- The roof, littered with graffiti.

- View from the roof, looking west.

- Industrial remains litter the top floor.

- Looking west towards Camp Washington/Price Hill.

- View from the buildings "watchtower." Looking Southeast towards Camp Washington/Clifton. Downtown is just over the hill at center.

- View from the roof.

- Panoramic view of the top of the building's tower.

- The tower atop the building.

- The roof.

- Looking North.

As the sun set, we climbed down the rusty two story ladder within the building's tower and used flashlights to navigate our escape through the dark. The threat of snow loomed that evening so we retreated for the night, leaving the Crosley Building to sit quietly, awaiting a future.

Want to see more photographs of the Crosley Building? Check out previous QC/D updates here.

For a detailed history on the building and its future use, check out Venkman's Local.Architecture Article.

Update | Oct. 16, 2017:
  • Originally slated for renovation as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Crosley Building still sits in its same, decaying state as seen here. These days, it's boarded up tight from what I hear. 


  1. I am currently reading the Crosley book Mr Venkman links to (& probably will be til about June). The offices & studios in the upper floors were pretty posh.

  2. Great shots gordon - i especially like the fisheye shots of the interior

  3. Quim, let me know how the book is. Yeah, there are some upper rooms with wooden floors and walls as well as decayed remains of chandeleirs. Here's a photo from the photo gallery of one of the old lighting fixtures:

    Al, thanks for checking out the update! Those are actually not fisheye, but photos stitched together.

  4. Nice shots!
    Too bad you weren't around when other icons of our industrial history were empty and slated for a Strip Mall future (Milacron, Leblond, GM-Norwood and Ford-Fairfax to name a few)..
    As for our region not being in what was generally called the "Rust Belt", we are now!
    I believe the definition has to include more industry than steel, such as Machine Tools....