Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Back in the Day" Historic Maps

First of all being a historic preservationsist, I am driven to learn as much about a neighborhood as possible. This involves going through Sanborn Fire Maps, city directories and census records but nothing quite gives one a snapshot of the time like an old map. While doing some research on the Fairmount area where our neighborhood Knox Hill is located I came across this old map from the 1860's which shows the area.
Maps are always interesting because they inevitably tell you somthing you didnt know. For example Fairmount street was called Central Avenue "back in the day" In fact many streets have changed names over the years. Some roads in fact are completely gone in the area due to changes in later developments. Cincinnati, differs from Indianapolis which was a "planned city". Cincinnati sort of evolved in its own unique way, which explains why you might see a 6000 square foot mansion next to a 1000 square foot cottage. Large tracts that houses the larger homes were simpy divided and people built what they wanted where they wanted and as close or far away from the road as they wanted.
It is easy to forget that in it's day Fairmount was an area of weekend or summer home for the more affluent who wanted to get away from the grime and grit of the city, or simply farms. One must feel for the horses that pulled wagons and carriages up the steep hills. It was a long trip to Fairmount back then, no cars or trolleys to carry you or viaduct to get you across the valley floor where farmland was giving way to industrial enterprises. Over the years the wealthy moved further out and by the 1930's it's wooded areas and hills became the location of choice for moonshiners during prohibition.
Like most urban and near urban areas it fell into decline and now 130 or so years later is on its way back. But like most "Old house Nuts" I wouldn't mind a trip back in a time machine, just to see what things were like "back in the day"

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