Prior to the mid-twentieth century, Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood was characterized as a dense urban area full of social and economic activity comprised of multiple thousands of buildings that housed almost 5% of the city’s entire population. Urban renewal impacted the existing landscape of the lower West End through two separate projects. During the late 1930s, new public housing buildings were constructed byway of renewal. On an even larger scale, during the 1960s, the city sought to create a new industrial area known as Queensgate I or the Kenyon Barr Urban Redevelopment project, which resulted in the comprehensive demolition of thousands of dwelling units, systematically displacing over 25,000 residents. It may not surprise you to find out that the large majority of families forced to relocate out of the West End were African American. In fact, prior to the 1960s renewal project, the neighborhood housed 75% of the city's black population.
In this first Deeply Rooted Heritage episode, we dig deep into the history of the West End to better understand the heritage of a once thriving community by speaking with local urban historians Anne Delano Steinert and Dr. Eric Jackson. Towards the end of the episode, Anne describes, then deconstructs, the story behind the photographs from her Finding Kenyon Barr exhibit.