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Saturday, May 1, 1999

Cincinnati's Century of Change
Looking back at the events and the people that have shaped the Tristate during the 20th century. Each part of this series is posted on


        May 16, 1900: Mr. Reuben A. Holden, a pioneer Cincinnati businessman, owner of A.P. and R.A. Holden Shoe Co. and R.A. Holden and Co. Grocery, dies at his home at the corner of Mason Street and Auburn Avenue.

        May 30, 1902: Cincinnati's African-American community unveils a monument to abolitionist Levi Coffin at Spring Grove Cemetery.

        May 29, 1907: Cincinnati lumber dealers are given $30,000 to $50,000 cash rebates by Southern Railway as a result of a Supreme Court ruling that the Interstate Commerce Commission has the authority to regulate freight rates. The railway was setting its own rates and overcharging customers.

        May 8, 1903: Clovernook Home and School for the Blind opens.

        May 15, 1909: The Working Girls Hotel, later the Anna Louise Inn, opens as a “permanent home for working girls of modest means.”


        May 17, 1912: Redland Field, later known as Crosley Field, is dedicated at the corner of Western and Findlay avenues. It replaces the Palace of the Fans.

        May 1, 1913: “May Day” or “Strike Day” is recorded as the most peaceful first of May in the history of organized labor in Cincinnati.

        May 7, 1915: During World War I, the steamship Lusitania sinks after being torpedoed by a German U-boat. The Germans disregarded rules of international law that forbade attacks on civilian vessels. Of 1,196 passengers who died, three were from Cincinnati: Mr. and Mrs. Victor Shields and Mr. Ralph Abercrombie.

        May 19, 1918: The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, in reaction to anti-German sentiment during World War I, withdraws all German books from its shelves.

        May 11, 1919: Hod Eller pitches the Reds first no-hitter at Redland Field, defeating St. Louis 6-0.


        May 25, 1920: The Cincinnati Operating Committee is selected by railroad officials to carry out orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission to relieve freight traffic congestion on the nation's railroads.

        May 2, 1922: Cincinnati merchants protest the United States Shipping Board's affiliation with the American steamboat companies of the North Atlantic Conference. The conference is setting higher rates to the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic ports (Cincinnati's natural ports), forcing local shippers to route their goods through northern ports, thus raising costs of locally made products.

        May 2, 1924: The Cincinnati Automobile Club demands that $125,000 be returned to the club for use in the street repair fund. The city had misdirected automobile license money that was to go to the club for these repairs.

        May 21, 1927: Charles P. Taft and Anna Sinton Taft donate their home and art collection to the city of Cincinnati, creating the Taft Museum.

        May 7, 1928: The Cincinnati River-Rail Co. begins service.


        May 5, 1931: The first steel pile is driven for the construction of Union Terminal.

        May 3, 1933: W.A. Sullivan, Democratic National Committeeman from Ohio and prominent Cincinnati businessman, accepts the position of Treasurer of the United States in Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration.

        May 24, 1935: Night baseball in the major leagues is inaugurated at Crosley Field as President Roosevelt switches on the ballpark lights from the White House. The Reds defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1, in front of more than 20,000 fans.

        May 21, 1938: The new administration building at Lunken Airport, complete with a control tower, is dedicated. The building, funded by the Works Progress Administration, had been damaged during its construction by the 1937 flood.

        May 31, 1939: The Civil Aeronautics Authority begins hearings on applications for new airline routes covering 14,000 miles, including Atlanta to Cincinnati.


        May 1, 1940: Hamilton County Communists are denied the use of Guilford School on East Fourth Street for an anti-war meeting because the party does not qualify as a regularly organized political party.

        May 4, 1942: The first food ration stamps are distributed in Hamilton County as part of efforts to conserve during World War II.

        May 8, 1945: Germany's final surrender pact is signed in Berlin. Afternoon and night celebrations are held on Fountain Square, and most businesses close for the day.

        May 8, 1947: The Columbian Hotel at 521 Elm St. catches fire when flames from the basement shoot up the elevator shaft. No one dies.

        May 16, 1948: The bodies of 35 Greater Cincinnatians who died in World War II are returned to the United States. They were originally interred in temporary military cemeteries on Iwo Jima, Saipan, Guam and Tinian.


        May 13, 1952: The Housing and Home Finance Agency approves a $3 million loan and a $2.5 million grant to Cincinnati to rebuild 29 acres of slums known as Laurel No. 3, bounded by Millcreek Expressway, Liberty Street, Linn Street and Lincoln Park Drive.

        May 24, 1953: Cincinnati hosts a parade to celebrate its 165-year history, along with Ohio's 150th anniversary. The city's story is told with 10 floats.

        May 15, 1954: The Cincinnati Veterans Administration Hospital opens.

        May 7, 1956: African-Americans sing in Cincinnati's May Festival for the first time.

        May 18, 1958: The Summer Flower Project kicks off “Your Bouquet Day” with a special floral display and sale at Fountain Square. The project places live flower baskets on utility poles along downtown streets.


        May 23, 1961: The Ohio Supreme Court rules that Cincinnati's obscene literature ordinance is unconstitutional. The ordinance says possession of such literature is a misdemeanor whether or not its possessor considers it obscene.

        May 29, 1961: Coney Island totally desegregates the amusement park, allowing African-Americans to use Sunlite Pool and Moonlite Gardens dance hall. Although blacks were permitted in the park beginning in 1955, these two facilities were closed to them.

        May 22, 1964: Mrs. Willie Mae Miney gives birth to quadruplets at Catherine Booth Hospital and Home. The quads are especially rare because all are identical. Mr. and Mrs. Miney name the boys Matthew, Mark, Luke and John after the first four books of the New Testament.

        May 18, 1966: Cincinnati officials make a 15-minute presentation in an attempt to persuade the National Football League that the city is the best place for a 16th NFL team.

        May 1, 1967: A ground-breaking ceremony is held for the new $900,000 Playhouse in the Park in Eden Park.


        May 15, 1973: City Council's Urban Development and Planning Committee votes 3-1 in favor of designating Union Terminal for preservation as an historic landmark, preventing Southern Railway from destroying the building.

        May 22, 1974: A barge carrying 160,000 gallons of sulfuric acid sinks in the Ohio River after hitting the L&N Bridge pier.

        May 23, 1976: Cincinnati dedicates the 6-acre Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Avondale.

        May 25, 1977: Cincinnati-based Kenner premieres its new line of Star Wars action figures at Showcase Cinemas in Springdale.

        May 28, 1977: Flames engulf the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate. The region's deadliest blaze kills 165 and injures 164.

        May 9, 1979: At a Cincinnati City Council meeting, police officers, their wives, and inner-city residents give heated speeches concerning the increase in police-community violence. Four officers had been killed in the preceding 10 months.


        May 25, 1986: More than 5 million people, including about 90,000 in Hamilton County, participate in Hands Across America, holding hands from coast to coast to raise money for the nation's needy. The human chain through downtown Cincinnati and the northern suburbs is almost unbroken. (Later, it's announced that the event netted only $75,000 to aid Cincinnati area homeless.)

        May 14, 1987: Banana producer Chiquita Brands Inc., controlled by financier Carl H. Lindner, announces it will move its headquarters to Cincinnati from the East Coast.

        May 2, 1988: Filming of the movie Rain Man begins in Greater Cincinnati. One thousand residents answer a casting call for extras.

        May 14, 1988: A church bus full of teen-agers returning from Kings Island is struck by a pickup traveling the wrong way on Interstate 71 near Carrollton, Ky., killing 27. The driver of the pickup was drunk.


        May 24, 1993: Reds rookie manager Tony Perez, a key member of the Big Red Machine in the 1970s, is fired after the team loses 24 of its first 44 games. Davey Johnson is named to replace him.

        May 19, 1994: Barbara Gibbs becomes the sixth director — and the first female director — of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

        May 29, 1997: A lease is signed by Hamilton County and Bengals officials to keep the team in Cincinnati until 2026. The deal includes building a new riverfront stadium named for team founder Paul Brown.

        May 9, 1997: Frederick A. Hauck, a businessman and philanthropist whose honors included designation as a Great Living Cincinnatian, dies at age 102.

        May 18, 1998: Arkansas-based retailer Dillard's Inc. announces it has agreed to acquire Fairfield-based Mercantile Stores Co. Inc. (McAlpin's) in a $2.9 billion deal.