22 June 2010

Federal Policy Depopulated Cities

In an editorial piece in the Enquirer last month, Ed Cunningham claimed that Federal Government policy assisted the depopulation of US cities. As I read this, I thought that his point can be demonstrated by my own family history. On a recent trip to the library, I paged through a 1911 City Directory and wrote down the addresses of 3 great-grandfathers, and found that two of them lived in houses that were later destroyed by freeway construction and urban renewal projects:

In 1911 Thomas, a plumber, lived at 1060 Wade Street. The house was near the Reds baseball field, which I guess is why my grampa was always talking about sneaking into games etc... This whole area was reconfigured for I-75 and the site is now the Enquirer printing press:

Anthony, a coachman, lived at 3840 Colerain. This site is now right next to an I74freeway ramp and the house was later demolished for the construction of a gas station:


Edward, a pressman, lived in Mt Auburn at 556 Milton, and thankfully, that house still remains in use:

I have no info on the fourth great-grandfather who was on a farm in Alexandria, KY in 1911.

It was a mistake to install freeways through the center of the our city. Thousands of brick dwellings were destroyed, and the properties nearby were made unpleasant and unlivable. It did not have to be this way. Freeways in Europe for example were often built on the edge of the city and connected via boulevards. Urban boulevards can move lots of cars and still support a vibrant city. As it is, we are still struggling to reconnect the parts of our city that were divided by freeway construction.

Anyway, I thought it was a relevant look back. Does anyone else out there want to share a story about their family home being demolished for highways, road widening or some urban renewal project?


Quimbob said...

holy cow
How far back does your family go in this town?

VisuaLingual said...

Mike, it's incredible that you know all this about your ancestors, and that you can even visit these sites, whether the home is still standing or not. For someone whose family is much more scattered and mysterious, it blows my mind. There's so much about my family that's simply lost to history.

CityKin said...

quimbob, not much further. I know little beyond this. All you need is a name and you can look them up in the City Directories.

Quimbob said...

If you have city directories. My paternal grandmother was born in a sod hut in NE S Dakota.

Dan said...

My paternal grandmother's family (her father) moved around. Their family home in Fairmont is now about where Rally's is. Their later home on Calhoun near UC is now nothing . . . waiting for development. Their home on Race in OTR is still there.
My paternal great-grandfather settled in Reading and the home they purchased in the 1880's is still there.
My maternal grandmother's family also moved around. They lived the longest on Oliver in the West End which is now a sea of lots and industrial (brewery, etc.) buildings - very few homes. After Oliver they moved to Flora. It is still there I think.
My maternal great-grandfather and grandfather, etc. settled in Hamilton. Most of the homes are still there ... the neighborhood around them has changed.

bsherm said...


A bunch are available online for download:


catherine said...

I gotta get to the library....
I remember looking this up once and finding that old Comello family addresses were directly in the path of 75 down on a part of John St. that no longer exists. Fogarty/Devaney family did have roots in Evanston and could have been lost to 71. How do you like that? Highways may have gotten them both!