Dixie Terminal

It’s our Day 154 of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today we are visiting a downtown icon, Dixie Terminal.

dixie terminal cincinnati

Originally built as a transportation hub, Dixie Terminal opened in 1921.  At the time it had more square footage than any other downtown building.  It was originally built as a terminal for the streetcar traffic that came and went in and out of Cincinnati and also included office space.  Tenants in the office space included the prominent Cincinnati Stock Exchange.

dixie terminal rookwood tiles

The attention to detail and brilliant artwork that went into Dixie Terminal is phenomenal.  Trimmed in Rookwood tiles at the front door (seen above), the front doors to the building lead into the most incredible two story lobby (called the arcade).

dixie terminal lobby cincinnati

Full of marble and glass, the arcade is a polished and vibrant glimpse into the past.  The building is incredibly well maintained and looks as if it was recently constructed.  It is impeccably clean and polished.

dixie terminal ceiling

You can walk right into the building and gawk like we did.  We even walked upstairs to view the ceiling from the second story (which I highly recommend).  Just keep in mind that business does still operate out of this building as it does house lots of office space.

dixie terminal cincinnati

And we even took a short trip down the steps into the lower level (as seen in the picture above).  There’s not much to see down there now but one can only imagine what a vibrant place this must have been in the 1920’s.

Dixie Terminal is located at 41-53 East Fourth Street downtown.

Do you have any Dixie Terminal history to share?  It was incredibly hard to find anything other than a few snippets of information.  I’d love to know more about it!

14 thoughts on “Dixie Terminal”

  1. I walked through the arcade in the 1970s several times a week, because i was a regular user of the TANK buses when I was a teen growing up in Newport. At the time, I ignored the gorgeous arcade – it was simply the entryway to the much less gorgeous bus terminal,. The bus area was dark and damp (or extremely humid) and smelly, and probably dangerous with all those diesel fumes trapped in there. But it was one of the livelier places in downtown, lots of people racing through the arcade in the early evenings to catch their bus home. Also – there was a little store in the lower level of the arcade, where you could pick up groceries(so hard to find in downtown Cinccinnati nowadays) There were men in the bus station at rush hour who would shoult out the bus numbers and destinations and people would rush to line up. It must’ve been even more bustling in the days when the trolleys ran. I moved away from Cincinnati for 30 years, but now I am back, Dixie Terminal is beautiful but the TANK buses don’t go there anymore of course – passengers stand in the heat and the cold outside alongside the Metro bus customers. Oh, and before the Underground Museum was built, the very large window at the south end of the arcade had a gorgeous view of the Suspension bridge – that’s gone too…sometimes you only know something was fantastic when it no longer exists…

  2. Thanks for the above story Tony. I too moved back to Cincinnati after 26 years away and so much has changed. I love to hear stories about how cincy used to be. I hope you will share more.

  3. When I was quite young, my father had offices in the Dixie Terminal building. I remember a wonderful restaurant but can’t remember the name. Every winter my mother made turnovers made of ham and turkey which was a recipe from the Dixie Terminal. They shared this recipe with her because it was one of our favorites. I wish I had the recipe today.


  5. I remember this building for it’s beauty but also for the odors of the bus terminal. My grandmother would often take me with her to go across the river to play bingo. We would wait to catch a bus, nearly dying from the diesel fumes, as we waited for the bus we were waiting for to be called for loading. Certainly were different times, glad to see the building still stands. Next time I’m in Cincy I will have to revisit.

  6. My husband works for Great American Insurance and his office is located in Dixie Terminal. It is a beautiful building with a wonderful history. Great American Insurance has a video about the history of the building.

  7. I lived in Covington in 1986-87. Before all the development there was a lot of free or inexpensive parking. I would park my car for $1 a day near the old drinking straw factory and then take a TANK into Dixie Terminal. Much less expensive than the downtown Cincinnati parking. I worked across the street from Dixie Terminal in the Bartlett Building, and would pick up coffee, or lunch, or a newspaper downstairs every day. I think the original Brothers III was downstairs in the terminal. There was a restaurant and a grocery store with a deli takeout counter and a news stand. I remember the deli had huge baked potatoes. Funny what one remembers. There might have also been a barber shop/shoe shine. I remember one afternoon Phyllis George Brown was down there greeting the Northern Kentucky commuters as they caught buses and shaking hands campaigning for her husband.

  8. I took the bus from Dayton, Ky to Dixie Terminal from 1947 to 1951. I worked at Sun Life of Canada in the Federal Reserve Bank building at 4th and Race. The place to catch my bus was just inside the exit door so the fumes from the exhaust was not so terrible. There was a delicious bakery on the lower level where I would pick up the most memorable bread. There was a wonderful cafeteria right next door. Had many a meal there. We used to go to the Albee movie theater just across the street from Fountain Square. We went to Lytle Park every Christmas season to see the live enactment of the Christmas Story. I moved to Wisconsin in 1951, but get back a couple times a year to visit my daughter’s family who moved to Loveland over 25 years ago. It gives me a chance to connect with 2 of my classmates that I went to school with from Kindergarten through high school graduation. Great memories of a great city.

  9. I worked for Clyde & Tony Jacobs owners of Dixie terminal food shop and Brothers 111 ( three) restaurant ! From 71-73 , those were very memorable days , wonderful people to work for and with ! And Yes , gr8 food , was very sad to leave to relocate to Lexington Ky. In 73 ! The 3 brothers Clyde tony & Paul were all very wonderful people and made a wonderful impression on my life , they had 2 or 3 restaurants and continued on for many years !

  10. I feel that same way about the Swallen brothers, Joette. They just don’t make ’em like they used to 🙂

  11. My grandmother worked at Shillito’s and every week she would bring a cheesecake home from the bakery that was inside the terminal. That was a long time ago!

  12. When I was a kid I would catch the green line in Bellevue after school and ride to Dixie Terminal to meet my grandmother. She worked at First National Bank. I remember their was a bakery we used to stop at but can’t remember the name. Can you imagine being such good friends with your bus driver that you let your grandson ride over to town at 7 years old? Sometimes we would take the bus to Newport and eat at Pompilios. My aunt would come meet us because Granddad worked nights in Cincinnati. Oh yeah, my first suit— Palm Beach Johnny Carson my aunt bought it for me at the plant. Loved Old Coney— road the ferry. Such fond memories of Union Station, Reds games on the radio.

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