Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ruins, Revitalization and Rust on the Riverfront.

A collection of photographs from an afternoon on the Cincinnati Riverfront with references to 1988 and 1993.

- Artwork near Longworth Hall.

- An abandoned gas station beneath west side overpasses.

- Brent Spence Bridge overpass.

- Before it was a Valvoline it was a Super America that was re-branded as a Speedway.

- Commuter/light rail potential.

- Murals placed on forgotten railroad viaduct supports.

Despite the overly industrial and gritty appearance of the highway overpasses and the noise that the passing automobiles create, there's a somewhat serene and beautiful urban environment below them. The area served as the setting for a scene in the 1993 rollerblading film; "Airborne."

- Still from "Airborne." Note the Super America sign.

- The Super America eventually was re-branded as a Speedway and today the shack seen above and the lone sign are the only reminders of the Super America that appeared in Airborne.

Had they kept the vert ramp and other skating structures seen in the movie, maybe Cincinnati could've had a skate park similar to the FDR Skate Park in Philadelphia, constructed under I-95.

- Forgotten pay parking structures beneath an overpass in a parking lot near Paul Brown Stadium.

As I was walking beneath the overpasses along one of the central riverfront parking lots, I came across these abandoned booths. Once used to collect fees for parking, the process is all pretty much automated now. As I crept up to the booth seen below and looked in, I was startled by the man sleeping inside. I turned around and let him be, apologizing for waking him.

Stumbling upon the homeless man in the parking booth reminded me of a photograph I had taken in 2008. While shooting a "ride-along" story with the Cincinnati Police Department in February of that year, one of the officers took me behind the flood wall beneath one of the Ft. Washington Way approaches. What he showed me was what folks would've called a "Hooverville" during the Great Depression. The overpasses of the western riverfront often provide shelter.

- February 2008 photograph from my essay of a ride along with CPD officers. See the rest of the essay photos and my current portfolio here.

- Closed to automobile traffic, the Roebling Bridge is being painted.

- Roebling Bridge pedestrian way.

- Central Riverfront.

- Paul Brown Stadium.

- Great American Ballpark.

- Riverfront path.

Seen above, a path along the riverfront dotted with streetlights is fenced off. Climbing down and trudging through the weeds you can find remnants of old railroad tracks and the launching box the Cincinnati Reds use for home run and victory fireworks. I'm not sure what the path used to be for though or why the lights are there. Are they there from when Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field was still there or where they installed in anticipation of "The Banks?" Does anyone know?

How the path looked in 1988:

- 1988 photograph from the first Tall Stacks festival by Chase Clements.

- The area seen at the "present day" (4/13/10).


  1. The abandoned lights, along with the riverfront path where temporarily put there in 2000 during constuction of Great American Ballpark. Access to Cinergy Field was restricted during that time and it allowed folks a way to get to the stadium.

  2. Here is a link to a aerial view of the riverfront from 2000, you can just make out the path.|cincinnati|ohio|

  3. The Flying Pig Marathon goes right by the Speedway/SuperAmerica. It's not a bad area to do some running due to the low traffic on the weekends.

  4. Really dig the Tall Stacks photo from '88 - it was a good fest that year. Almost makes me long for the old stadium.

  5. The rail line was part of the Cincinnati Street Connecting Railway, and formerly carried NW, DT&I and some other locos between the Oasis line and the tracks going out by the Whitewater line. It served the produce/goods warehouses where the stadiums are now at, and if you look at the CAGIS maps and, you can see some locos on the tracks in the vicinity of the Paul Brown Stadium as far back as... 1996. The line wasn't really abandoned until around 2000, and now has been partially dismantled.

    Quite sad. That is one move that effectively killed off true west-east commuter rail.

  6. Wow. I've lived in Cincy my entire life, but sometimes I wonder if I can really see it. I feel like I'm looking, but not seeing.

    The pic from 1988 brings back some awesome memories.