"Hamilton is a city, a self-contained town, a suburb, a satellite in the orbits of both Cincinnati and Dayton, a minor metropolitan cluster, a county seat, a bump on the plain, a galactic microdot where [62,000] people wait to see what will happen next." from Hometown by Peter Davis
The City of Hamilton, Ohio sits along the Great Miami River approximately 25 miles outside of Cincinnati, in the Cincinnati-Dayton Metroplex. The seat of sprawling Butler County, the city peaked at 72,000 residents in 1960, fell to 60,690 by 2000, and was estimated at 61,996 in 2004. In 1985, the city officially added an exclamation point to its name, yet Hamilton! is rarely seen today.
Hamilton was platted on the site of the former General St. Clair's Fort Hamilton in 1791 by Israel Ludlow. The city was originally called Fairfield, but was quickly changed to honor the name of the Fort. Immediately adjacent, the town of Rossville formed across the river and for decades, the two towns were rivals. In 1854, for better or worse, the communities merged and took on the Hamilton name.
Hamilton was dubbed 'The Greatest Manufacturing City of Its Size in the World'
at the turn of the century and would hold a rich industrial history until the mid-1970's. 'Known in World Markets'
and 'Postmark of Distinctive Trademarks'
were slogans the city boasted in the first half of the 1900's, which perhaps wasn't too far off. American Cyanamid, Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp., Beckett Paper, Champion Paper, Bendix Aviation, Black Clawson Co., Clearing Machine Corp., Estate Stove, Ford, Pillsbury Mills, Leshner Corp., National Can Corp., Pease Woodworking, Mosler Safe and Whirlpool-Seeger Corp. all operated plants in Hamilton, just to name some of the larger examples.
Hamilton was also known as 'Safe Capital of the World'
as home to several large safe companies. Mosler Safe, which left Cincinnati for Hamilton in the 1890's constructed the safes that hold the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. A Mosler Safe survived the bombing of Hiroshima during WWII. One of the largest safe manufactures today, Fairfield based Hamilton Safe, took on the Hamilton name simply due to its safe-making reputation.
Today the city is embracing the arts and is known as the 'City of Sculpture'
with many pieces downtown and throughout the city, as well as a nationally recognized sculpture park built by a Hamilton philanthropist. The Fitton Center for Creative Arts, located on the riverfront, provides many cultural activities to the residents of Hamilton and Butler County.
Hamilton is unique in essentially having two downtowns. The larger business district on the east (Hamilton) side of the river receives the official title, while Main Street (old Rossville), which only consists of 4-5 linear blocks, stands in its shadow across the Great Miami.
Downtown Hamilton is still a major economic center for the city with a healthy downtown workforce including Butler County government offices and courts, Hamilton Municipal offices and courts, numerous law practices, the Biztech Center Business Incubator, Ohio Casualty Insurance, several large banking centers, and the headquarters of First Financial Bancorp.
Until the late 1980's downtown Hamilton offered an impressive array of retail options, but like most cities, major retain has moved to suburban centers. Elder Beerman still operates a full service department store downtown, but is the last national chain left. Many vacant storefronts blight downtown and the city suffers the all too common limited 9 to 5 vitality.
But there is much hope. On the riverfront, a major flat and townhome project is planned for the former Mercy Hospital complex, the Hamiltonian Hotel is being trasformed into a $9M Courtyard by Marriott, and a possible amplitheater and/or rowing house are being studied. The historic Mercantile Complex is undergoing a $5M restoration, bringing retail and housing to High Street, and plans for a project to provide affordable housing for artists is in the early stages. A major piece of infrastructure, the new $18M High-Main Bridge is nearing completion.
So without furthur ado...
Butler County Courthouse, constructed in 1889 (Virtual Tour: http://www.butlercountyprobatecourt.org/index.cfm?page=virtualTour
The first clock tower was destroyed by fire in 1912 and it was replace by the present tower topped by a grand ogival dome rising to a total height of 225 feet. The dome had to be removed after being struck by lighting and for structural concerns in 1926, when the present low-pitch roof was installed bringing the tower to a mere 178 feet.
The most recognized structure in Hamilton, the Butler County Soldiers, Sailors, and Pioneers Monument was completed in 1906 and stands proud at the end of High Street, the site of Fort Hamilton.
The Anthony Wayne hotel was completed in 1928, but, due to the Great Depression hitting almost immediately, never prospered and the hotel closed down in 1964.
In 1989, Star Bank planned to demolish the abandoned structure for a nine-story riverfront office complex, but preservationists were able to save the building in its last month. In the late 90's, a restoration lead by Preservation Ohio (then the Ohio Preservation Alliance) turned the building into senior apartments, which has proved to be a nice addition to downtown.
Completed in 1906, the eight-story Rentschler Building was known as "Hamilton's skyscraper." Today it houses Milikin and Fitton, the city's most presigeious lawfirm, ACS Title, the Butler County Bar Assosiation, and other assorted offices, as well as Key Bank.
Ornate details of the entablature
The 1866 Globe Opera House/Robinson Schwenn Building was restored several years ago and houses the Butler County Law Library and Cappacino Depot. Miami Hamilton has opened a downtown branch in the building.
The American Cape, a 14-foot statue of Alexander Hamilton, the city's namesake, stands in the median of High Street. Installed in 2004, the sculpture is the tallest representation of Hamilton in the world.
The Butler County Government Service Center (11 floors, 230 feet) and Hamilton Renaissance Center were completed in 1999 and 2001, respectively. The structures were designed by Dayton firm Lorenz + Williams. From their website: "The Government Services Center reflects the “Hamilton Scale” of punched windows, copper roofs and domed building tops. The complex has the appearance of being a series of buildings rather than a single structure. The image prevents it from overpowering other buildings in the downtown area."
The eight-floor Renaissance Center was developed by Cincinnati's Corporex and was intended to be leased as office space. Yet, after disagreements with the county, and concern over space, the city leased, and later purchashed the building.
The First National Bank tower was completed in 1932 and is home to the corporate headquarters of First Finanical Bancorp (the only publicly traded company still based in Hamilton) and Robert Treadon architects.
The Hamilton Municipal Building, constructed in 1935 by the WPA, is now home to the Biztech Business Incubator, which is home to approximately 20 small business with over 100 employess, an amazing sucess!
Built in art deco style, the building features carvings by Robert McClosky, the famous children's writer and Hamilton native.
Another art deco beauty, the Second National Building was constructed in 1931 and currently houses US Bank and other assorted offices on its four floors.
The Fitton Center for Creative Arts was completed in 1993 and doubled in size in 2003. (http://www.fittoncenter.org/
Constructed in 1931, Hamilton's main post office still operates downtown. The building features several beautiful murals in the lobby as part of a government program to provide work for artists during the depression.
The Front Street facade features grand pilasters and tall windows.
The Butler County Annex, completed in 1976, sits immediately across from the historic courthouse.
Several local groups including the City of Sculpture, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and ReDiscover Hamilton were brought together last year to create the Hamilton Welcome Center at the base of the Anthony Wayne Hotel.
The restoration of the Mercantile Buildings promises to restore three of the finest italinate buildings in Hamilton.
Hebe, Nymph of Streams and Brooks, was installed in 1890 along High Street as a public drinking fountain.
Elder Beerman, an urban renewal project of 1968, defies all odds.
The Journal-News Building (http://www.journal-news.com
A side detail of the Journal-News Building
The downtown YMCA was completed in 1915 after plans for a more generic structure were tossed.
The main branch of Great Miami Valley YMCA built in 1915 (http://www.gmvymca.org
The Gateway to Hamilton was dedicated with the designation of Hamilton as the 'City of Sculpture.' The 66 foot tall sculpture is symbolic of Hamilton's history, although has proved to be quite contriversal. (http://www.myklebust-sears.com/exterior1.html#thehamilton
The Ohio Casulty Building was started in the 1920's and constructed two floors at a time.
Ohio Casulty built an eight-story tower behind their original building in the 1970's, but moved their corporate headquarters from Hamilton a few years ago.
Connected by an underground tunnel, OC built a large print center in the late 70's.
The Home Loan and Building Association was completed in 1923 and holds an ornate ceiling in its small lobby. Hamilton based Chaco Credit Union uses building today.
The First National Bank annex was finished in 1915
A dismal office addition to First National was built around the annex.
The Dollar Federal Building (1955) with its 1980's addition now is home to 5/3 Bank and assorted offices.
Prior to the present post office, this 1910 structure served Hamilton. Today, it is home to the Butler County Health Board.
The Presbyterian Church - famous baptisms: Charles Richter
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church - famous baptisms: inkaelin, BigRedM
First Methodist Church
St. Johns Church
Payne Chaple Church
Presbyterian Court Street Sanctuary
The Palace Theater is undergoing renovation for Greater Hamilton Civic Theater
The Presbyterian Church installed the 10 Commandments across the street from the courthouse a few years ago when the debate of their presence in public places was ongoing.
They've also embraced the sculpture movement, bringing Jesus to downtown Hamilton.
First Ride by Seward Johnson
The sidewalks around Journal-Square feature quotes by Alexander Hamilton.
Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.
A thin walkway emerges from the city parking garage to High Street
Ringels operated a fine furniture store downtown for many years, but the family retired this year, chosing not to sell their well respected name, thus leaving their seven-story building vacant.
An example of the small buildings scattered throughout downtown that lawyers offices have claimed.
The Protector, a memorial to Hamilton Police Officers
Mayor Ryan's Cozy Cafe
Butler County Firefighter Memorial
Underused buildings along 3rd Street
The corner of 2nd and High sits vacant as a developer undergoes a legal battle with an adjacent building owner. The developer once announced plans for a mid-rise building, but the future of the site is uncertain.
Fat Wally's, a tasty downtown eatery, has proven very successful.
Lentil, an image from Robert McCloskey's book of the same name, was installed near the old Municipal Building that features the carvings he did in high school. (http://www.schon.com/public/lentil.php
Almost all of Hamilton's commercial buildings on High Street recieved some type of cladding in the 60's and 70's and it continues to ruin the character of downtown.
Hamilton's Masonic Temple sits a couple blocks outside of downtown proper.
The Marvin Hotel, now part of the adjacent church
The GSC project included a 650 space parking garage and skywalk, prehaps not the greatest idea for sidewalk traffic.
A few details of the BC Courthouse
A farmers market still has success around the Courthouse Square
Soon to become a Courtyard by Marriott
This image shows the similarities between the old and new courthouse roofs
Goodbye from beautiful Hamilton!Hamilton Core GalleriesHamilton! - Gallery 1 - Downtown http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=10975.0Hamilton! - Gallery 2 – Main Street Business Districthttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=11327.0Hamilton! - Gallery 3 - Dayton Lane Historic Districthttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=5269.0Hamilton! - Gallery 4 - Rossville Historic Districthttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=5417.0Hamilton! - Gallery 5 - Glorious Old Industryhttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=6730.0Hamilton! - Gallery 6 - German Village Historic Districthttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=6958.0Hamilton! - Gallery 7 - Historic Highland Parkhttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=7208.0Hamilton! - Gallery 8 - Southeast Neighborhoodhttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=7309.0Hamilton! - Gallery 9 - Prospect Hill and Grandviewhttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=8025.0Hamilton! - Gallery 10 - Forest Hills and Oak Parkhttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=8107.0Hamilton! - Gallery 11 - Greenwood Cemetery and St. Stephen's Cemeteryhttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=8438.0Hamilton! - Gallery 12 - Lindenwaldhttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=9336.0Hamilton! - Gallery 13 - Hyde Park and Verlyn Placehttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=8424.0Hamilton! - Gallery 14 – Historic Images of City Life and Atmosphereshttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=8668.0Hamilton! - Gallery 15 – Art Deco etc. http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=8830.0Hamilton! - Gallery 16 - The Gardens of Rossvillehttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=9262.0Hamilton! - Gallery 17 - The Northend and Fordson Heightshttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=9501.0Hamilton! - Gallery 18 - The East Avenue Ghetto and Jeffersonhttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=10146.0Hamilton! - Gallery 19 - Butler County Soldiers, Sailors, and Pioneers Monumenthttp://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=10205.0