Posts Tagged ‘incline’

It is commonly known that Cincinnati once had a series of several inclines to raise people from the main basin up to the top of the city’s many hills.  As a matter of fact, a new “Images of America” book just came out about these inclines.  But what is less commonly known is that the city once had a series of cable cars that helped boost people up the steep streets that were closer to the main basin.  Although San Francisco remains one of the only cities that still operates cable cars (and for nostalgic reasons only), three of the buildings can still be seen.   Unfortunately I was never able to shoot pictures of them myself, because I simply just ran out of time, as I had so many other things on my list that I wanted to accomplish before my lease expired.  But here are some pictures of the cable houses I found myself on the internet that still stand today (believe it or not – they were built in the late 1800’s!):

Old cable car house on Gilbert Avenue at Sinton Avenue in Walnut Hills

Old cable car house on Gilbert Avenue at Sinton Avenue in Walnut Hills, looking northwest. This building was the main cable pulling house for the Mt. Adams & Eden Park Railway. It operated cable cars from 1885 to 1898. Also note the buried tracks in the foreground, pointing towards the building.  Text stolen from Cincinnati Traction History.  http://homepage.mac.com/jjakucyk/Transit1/carbarns/large-52.html.

Old cable car house on Gilbert Avenue at Sinton Avenue in Walnut Hills

Old cable car house on Gilbert Avenue at Sinton Avenue in Walnut Hills, looking northwest.  Text stolen from Cincinnati Traction History.  http://homepage.mac.com/jjakucyk/Transit1/carbarns/large-53.html

Cable car barn at the corner of Highland and Dorchester Avenues in Mt. Auburn

Cable car barn at the corner of Highland and Dorchester Avenues in Mt. Auburn, looking northwest. The stone section is from the original carbarn that burned down in 1892. The brick parts were built after the fire. This building was used by the Mt. Auburn Cable Railway, which operated cable cars along Highland Avenue to downtown from 1887 to 1902.  Text stolen from Cincinnati Traction Historyhttp://homepage.mac.com/jjakucyk/Transit1/carbarns/large-54.html.

So, in Cincinnati there was a serious progression of transportation.  You first had the horse-drawn trolleys, then the cable cars, then the streetcars and the cable cars connected to the street cars, the inter-urbans, and then the automobile.  Please shoot me if I’ve missed one or got the chronology incorrect.  Anyway, here is a link to some of the “car-barns” which once were shops that provided maintenance for the streetcars.  These still stand as well, and I find this quite fascinating.  Do you as well?

Cincinnati Carbarns and Shops that Still Exist

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The funiculars (inclines) of Cincinnati may be gone by now, but their legend lives on in many ways.  For those who don’t know (or are curious at all), the city of Cincinnati consists of 5 hills.   In the late 1800’s, as a way to expand the city, a series of inclines were constructed that allowed streetcars and pedestrians to be transported to the tops of these hills.  These hills are now known as Mt. Adams, Price Hill, Mt. Auburn, Bellevue, and Fairview.

How does the legend live one?  Well, for starters, you could go look at ruins of the piers that the tracks once stood on.  But, you could also go up Hill Street in Mt. Adams, where one of the properties has a miniature funicular of its own!  The property is called “The Rookery”, and as its street name suggests, the property sits atop a big hill.  There are steps that lead up to the entrance of the property, but they are very long and could become quite tedious when carrying groceries and things like that.

As a result, the owner installed what is titled “The Hillavator”.   Installed in 1962, the owner Neil Bortz discovered while in San Francisco what looked like a “phone booth on tracks”.  He found the name of the company that manufactured these unique systems and had one of his own installed.

As far as I know, there are only a few other Hillavators  like this in the world.  The Shadowbrook Restaurant in Santa Cruz County is another place with a Hill-a-Vator, and they had theirs built in 1958.  This leads me to believe that the same company built both of these, and that they when they went out of business, there were no more to be made.

However, some people still make their own!  Here is a link showing off one of these gems:


Here are some links showing the Hill-a-Vator at the Shadowbrook:



Here are some pictures showing off the Hill-A-Vator in Mt. Adams:


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