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The Old Cincinnati

- Brian

Cincinnati has a rich, vibrant history. Recently, I took The Cincinnati Underground Tour, provided by American Legacy Tours. It was a walking tour through Over-The-Rhine, with stops at The Gild Haus, Saint Francis Seraph and an old tenement house.
Since Cincinnati is on a major waterway, lots of businessmen and tourists stopped in the city in the old days, many of whom stayed and brought their culture with them. Cincinnati was once known as “The Paris of the West” as it had a big entertainment district with many opera houses and many different attractions with shows every night. Annie Oakley preformed several times in Over-The-Rhine.
The old cincinnati
 
One of the many churches in Over-The-Rhine is Saint Francis Seraph. Back when the church was being planned, it was decided to build it on an existing cemetery. There was a call put out to all of the residents of Over-The-Rhine to “Come get your relatives.” However, approximately 70 people remained unclaimed. They were buried under the church altar in a crypt. The crypt is a small 8 by 8 room with the tombstones from the original cemetery of the unclaimed bodies. Saint Francis Seraph is located on Liberty Way, which prior to the Civil War was the boundary that meant a slave was free once they crossed it.
 
Living back during the early 1900’s was very different than today. Many people lived in tenement houses, which were cramped and often housed up to 10 people in a room. If your family had less than that, you would often have to share a single room with another family. Back then you also had to pay to use the restroom and to take a bath, which was off site; 10 cents for clean water, 5 for used water. Since drinking water wasn’t clean, children would often times drink diluted whiskey because the water could pose a health risk.
 
Overall, this tour really took me back in time and gave me a much better appreciation for the history of Cincinnati.
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