It’s Day 179 of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today we are taking a tour of Cincinnati’s City Hall.
Today we took a 365Cincinnati “field trip”. A bunch of us met at City Hall for a tour of the building. Tours of City Hall are free and are offered through City Hall (you must schedule two weeks in advance). Our tour guide, Connie Roesch, was fantastic! She led us all through City Hall, stopping along the way to provide loads of detail about the city’s history and the building itself.
City Hall was built back in a day when Cincinnati was one of the largest cities in the United States. With that in mind, you can understand why the city leaders wanted to erect such a large monument to serve as our city’s administrative building. Using the entire block (bound by 8th and 9th Streets and Central Ave. and Plum St.), this building originally housed all city departments plus the jail.
No expense was spared in the creation of this building. The cost to purchase the land and build City Hall was in excess of $1.5 million, all of which was raised by citizens, school children and leaders of their day (per our tour guide). Built in the Romanesque style, the architect was prominent Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford (who did many other “famous” Cincinnati buildings such as Music Hall).
I think it’s safe to say we were all amazed by the beauty that makes up City Hall. The picture above was taken from the lobby. The stairs, rails and banisters are solid marble and the detail is simply incredible. The really cool thing is the marble going up the steps is indented from the wear of the many feet that have traveled those same steps. Even the landings have grooves, worn in spots where people would naturally stop.
The number of stained glass windows is incredible and would rival any church. Our tour guide told us that the rumor is the that the window space was to be filled with clear glass. When the construction was far enough along for women to enter the building, they were disturbed when they realized they’d be able to look out the windows to see the courtyard. The courtyard was actually the exercise area for the folks being held in the jail downstairs. They did NOT want to look out to see that… And thus the need for stained glass!
The stained glass appears on each floor of the building. Each window has its own theme and each theme relates to our city’s history in one way or another.
City Hall no longer houses all our city departments and the jail has been moved to a bigger location as well. But the building still houses some of our city offices such as the Mayor’s office and the City Manager’s office. City Council’s Chambers are here as well.
The Council’s Chamber has to be the most ornate room in the building. Above you’ll see the corner of the room, complete with painted ceiling and arched ornamentation. Even the ceiling was given the grand treatment here…
After we took in the Chambers, we decided to have Connie take a group picture of us just for fun! Here we all are pretending to be City Council for a few minutes.
I would highly recommend the tour of City Hall. We all learned a lot, both about the building and about our city. We are lucky to have such an amazing piece of architecture and history here in our midst!
City Hall is located at 801 Plum Street