Originally constructed in 1874 in the location of an unfinished opera house, the Old Cincinnati Library featured an exquisite Main Hall with four stories of shelves. Harper's Weekly reported on the opening: "The first impression made upon the mind on entering this hall is the immense capacity for storing books in its five tiers of alcoves, and then the eye is attracted and gratified by its graceful and carefully studied architecture, which provides that no portion of the shelving is deprived of a proper amount of light..."
Scroll down for some amazing pictures of this grand library, known to locals as "Old Main". (All photos credited to The Cincinnati Public Library)
Here is a view of the Main Hall in 1874, shortly after the building opened.
This has to be one of our most favorite images ever. We remember waiting outside of our local library as a kid, so we were delighted to find a similar photo of kids outside of Old Main. Wonder what became of these kids?!
Cincinnati was quite progressive in its day, and the library attracted many women students and visitors, as you can see in this great picture of the main Gallery from 1899.
The Library became a fixture in the community from the day it opened as men and women would come to study, meet, and catch up on gossip. Here is a view of the Newspaper Room in 1899.
Here is another photo from 1899, this one of one of the four Art Rooms in the library. These rooms offered books filled with prints of prominent works, maps, and histories.
This 1954 photo of the Main Hall highlights that not much changed with the library over the 80-plus years it served the community. We love everything about it - the floors, the windows. It's just a beautiful old library!