Bottoms (HMGLJ)

Location: Cincinnati, OH 45202 Hamilton County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 6.046', W 84° 30.238'

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A Neighborhood That No Longer Exists
Cincinnati is a city of neighborhoods. One of them is very, very special—because it is no longer there. The Bottoms: a dense urban neighborhood full of churches, full of people. It ran from the River to Sixth Street, from Walnut Street east to the foot of Mt. Adams.

It included many wonderful historic buildings, like the Pennsylvania Railroad Station, the Spencer House Hotel, and the Pearl Street Market, all of which no longer exist.

In Its Heyday
The Bottoms was in its heyday from the turn of the century until the mid-30's.

The neighborhood was full of families raising their children: Lebanese families, Irish families, Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, German and Italian families. Cincinnati's version of the United Nations. Children who didn't have grass, who didn't have trees, but who had the ever-present Ohio River, who had Putman's Ice Cream Store, and all the delights and curiosities of crowded urban streets.

Parishes Vanished into History
There were churches everywhere in The Bottoms, most of them Catholic. Only one Catholic church is still there: St. Xavier, on Sycamore between Sixth and Seventh. St. X included a grade school, a commercial school for girls, a boys' high school and Xavier University (until 1920). Some of the girls attended Notre Dame Academy, which was on Sixth, right behind the grade school.

Sacred Heart, the Italian church, was located at Sixth and Broadway. You can see a picture of it as it stands today on the Camp Washington panel, because that's where it is now. St. Anthony of Padua, the Lebanese church, stood on Third Street, between Lawrence and Broadway. Today, it's on Victory Parkway between Taft and McMillan, in Walnut Hills.

Four other Catholic churches don't exist at all. St. Philomena, a German church, which was first located on Pearl between Pike and Butler, and then moved a block north to Third Street, is now gone—though there are still memories of the time its steeple fell over on the candy store. The Church of the Atonement and St. Ann's, both Irish churches, stood on Third and Fourth Streets, respectively, between Main and Walnut. St. Thomas, yet another Irish church, stood on the north side of Sycamore at Cuts Alley, between Fifth and Sixth Streets. No traces remain.

Other churches have also disappeared: the Pentacostal church on Third between Sixth and Broadway; the Methodist church on Pearl between Pike and Lawrence; the A.M.E. Allen Temple, now in Roselawn, then at Sycamore and Broadway; and perhaps best loved, Wesley Chapel between Sycamore and Broadway on Fifth. It is now located on East McMicken in Over-the-Rhine. Only the Christ Church still stands, and it is no longer the Gothic-spired building of those years, but a contemporary design.

A Legacy that Continues
More than simply buildings made The Bottoms what it was, and much of good from that life has come down to us. The expectation that children could be sent from there to the Emery Theater at Central Parkway and Walnut to rehearse and act in operettas, and be sent safely, continues today in our life as a safe city, particularly downtown.

The way the gatekeeper at the Taft's house watched out for kids in the neighborhood continues here, where we have never ceased to be our brother's and sister's keeper. And the tradition of private caring, as evidenced by the generous work of Cincinnati Union Bethel with the poorest children of The Bottoms, continues all over Greater Cincinnati, wherever need exists.

Did You Know...

People in The Bottoms knew who had won an election, because lights on top of the Carew Tower would flash green for a Democrat, and red for a Republican. There were always bid bonfires on election day.

The Pearl Street Market Bank was the first bank in town to go broke, which it did early in the 20's, long before the Depression.

What is now the Academy of Medicine on Broadway had been through several incarnations. Built by the parents of Federal Court Judge Druffel, it became an American Legion Hall where wedding receptions were often held.

The north side of Pearl Street, around the Market, was often closed after 6 p.m., so the neighborhood kids would have a clear space to play.

A roast beef on rye was 15 cents at Naglan's Family Saloon.

Mike Mullen, Irish ward boss of The Bottoms, took the whole ward from Democrat to Republican when he switched parties in 1897. He was known as Boss Cox's personal representative on City Council, and lived on Pike Street, where all the famous people lived.

Putman's Ice Cream Store has become the well-known Lykins Candies.

What was known as the Screw and Tap Company at Second and Main became Cincinnati Milling Machine, then Cincinnati Milacron.

Each railroad had its own station until the Union Terminal was built. One of the most beautiful was the Pennsylvania Railroad Station in The Bottoms.

All but the Irish were buried from Fuldner's Funeral Home. They were to Gilligan's, on Broadway between Fifth and Sixth.

Pearl Street, around the Market, included a lot of famous Cincinnati names. The Lindner brothers had an ice cream store at Pearl and Broadway. Buddy LaRosa had a produce store at Pearl and Sycamore. And the first Kroger store was on Pearl between the two.

Roy Rogers, born and raised in The Bottoms, once played his guitar on the public landing when the Island Queen and the Island Maid, which went back and forth to Coney Island, were loading and unloading, as a way to earn money.

A life sized statue of Christopher Columbus once stood at Sixth and Broadway.
Placed ByThe Greater Cincinnati Bicentennial Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, September 11th, 2014 at 7:38pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 715843 N 4330925
Decimal Degrees39.10076667, -84.50396667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 6.046', W 84° 30.238'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 6' 2.76" N, 84° 30' 14.28" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)513
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 370 E 3rd St, Cincinnati OH 45202, US
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