Sunday, November 9, 2003

Ohio Moments

Cincinnati Observatory an influential presence

On Nov. 9, 1843, former President John Quincy Adams, 77, gave a speech and laid the cornerstone of the Cincinnati Observatory atop Mount Adams.

Until then, the hill east of downtown had been known as Mount Ida, supposedly for an old washerwoman who lived on the undeveloped hillside. Astronomer Ormsby McKnight Mitchel had raised the money to build the observatory on four acres of the hilltop donated by Cincinnati businessman Nicholas Longworth. It became the premier astronomical research center in the nation.

But during the 1860s, heavy smoke and development rendered Mount Adams unsuitable for astronomical research. So, in 1872, businessman John Kilgour donated land and $10,000 for a new observatory. The cornerstone of the original building was re-laid at a site in Mornington, now Hyde Park. The area south of the new building, designed by architect Samuel Hannaford, was renamed Mount Lookout. Thus, two of Cincinnati's neighborhoods obtained their names because of the observatory.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call (513) 768-8361

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