Built in 1874 on the site reserved for an opera house, the Old Main Cincinnati Library was a thing of wonder. With five levels of cast iron shelving, a fabulous foyer, checker board marble floors and an atrium lit by a skylight ceiling, the place was breathtaking.
Cast-iron book alcoves lined the sides of the Main Hall.
The library was once one of Cincinnati’s most stunning buildings… and one of the country’s most beautiful public libraries. Now it’s a parking garage. (The building, which was located in Downtown Cincinnati at 629 Vine St. — just a few blocks from the current Main Library — was demolished in 1955.) These photos remain, giving us a haunting glimpse into the past.
Main Library, ca. late 19th century.
Newspaper room, 1899.
Reading Room, 1899.
Vestibule, Main Library, ca. 1900. A glimpse of the Main Hall can be seen through the doorway at the top of the steps.