Over the past year I partnered with The History Press to photograph and author my new book: Fading Ads of Cincinnati. On November 30th, it'll finally be released!
|- The hand painted Nikon has become an iconic fixture in downtown, pointing to the now closed Provident Camera shop.|
All around the city are these fading advertisements, "ghost signs" as some call them. They're hand painted fixtures of the landscape. Some are easily noticed, others not so much. These urban hieroglyphics carry immense weight though, there's history behind their handiwork. Since 2007 I've been trudging around Cincinnati with my camera, visiting abandoned locations and shedding light on the area's overlooked history. When I first teamed up with the History Press I wondered if there would even be enough content to fill a blog article, let alone an entire book. I'd come to find that these peeling bits of paint clinging to brick walls still have a lot to say about the city, its history and ourselves.
Fading Ads of Cincinnati takes readers on a tour of the Queen City and Northern Kentucky. From the iconic Nikon/Provident camera ad prominently hanging above 4th St. to the barely legible, peeling word of "Beehive" beneath the downtown arena, the book reveals stories like that of a closed local camera shop and the NHL hockey team we almost had.
|- The barely legible word of "Beehive" is just the start of the story. Found on the pillars beneath the US Bank Arena, "The Beehive" reflects the days before corporate naming rights and when Cincinnati chased after an NHL hockey franchise.|
The signs also have a human side to them. Some dedicate their free time to finding them, while some remember their past through them. They reflect not just the products they tout or the city surrounding them, but that of their creators. Men like Gus Holthaus, a third generation "wall dog" who's signature can still be found beneath several vanishing ads and whose descendants are influenced by Gus' legacy.
|- So many of Cincinnati's fading advertisements feature the signature of Gus Holthaus. This book attempts to to link the signature to the man, how he became a "wall dog" and how his descendants carry on the family advertising business today.|
Take a tour. One that goes down alleyways, on street corners and to the bricks above the cityscape. One that reveals a human side to the days before highway billboards. One that presents a city's history and how it can be found through the artifacts of a bygone era.
Fading Ads of Cincinnati will be available online and on the shelves of local bookstores on November 30th! Stay in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for news on soon to be announced events surrounding the book's release.