The West End Stories Project
The West End Stories Project captures the experiences of individuals who lived in Cincinnati’s West End during the second half of the 20th century for urbanites today who want to know more about the neighborhood’s transformation. Cincinnati’s West End was once a vibrant community full of people, opportunities, and excitement. But due to urban renewal projects in the 1950s, the historic West End was largely razed for the creation of interstate I-75 and housing projects. This, combined with segregation, white flight, and redlining decimated this predominantly Black community, and the community still hasn’t recovered. Today, gentrification and other development projects are forcing many longtime residents out of the neighborhood again.
The West End Digital Archive
The West End Digital Archive is a community-based digital archive of objects significant to current and former West End residents. This archive started as a collaboration between residents of the West End and the University of Cincinnati. In conjunction with a newly formed group called Way Back West End, contributions are now open to the public. The history of the West End is full of joy as well as sadness and anger. The main goal of this archive is to spotlight the rich history of the West End, its residents, and their descendants, in whatever capacity you are willing to share it.
Finding Keyon Barr: Exploring Photographs of the Lost Lower West End
Finding Kenyon Barr was a photographic exhibition featuring images of the lower West End prior to demolition beginning in 1959. The exhibition opened in 2017 and has now been shown in seven Cincinnati-area locations — City West, Lindner YMCA, and Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses in the West End as well as the DAAP Gallery at UC, Miami University’s Middletown Campus, College Hill Presbyterian Church, and Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church. The exhibit was curated by Anne Delano Steinert and is available for additional installations of one-month or longer by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cincinnati History Library and Archives Digitized Kenyon Barr Collection
In 1948, the Cincinnati City Planning Commission adopted a redevelopment plan that tore down more than 3,000 West End buildings and forced 65 percent of the 40,000 residents to move in the 1960’s. These photographs were taken in the 1950’s by the city to document what was about to be torn down and the Planning Commission named this location Kenyon Barr – which was part of the thriving West End community. In a pattern repeated across the country, officials made these changes to, rather than with, the community. Remaining residents of the West End and those displaced showed a strong sense of resiliency as they organized and built new communities.
Registry of Cincinnati Black Heritage Sites
Cincinnati Preservation Association seeks to increase awareness and preservation of sites and structures that tell the stories of the Black experience in Cincinnati, particularly those in the West End. Individuals can nominate sites using the online nomination form below. Please click the main link for more information on the project.
Urban Roots Podcast “Lost Voices of Cincinnati Series” by Urbanist Media
Urban Roots is a podcast that tells little known stories of urban history, highlighting the stories of women, people of color, and other marginalized groups in an effort to preserve, remember, and hear their important perspectives, contributions, and lessons. In January 2021, Urban Roots was honored to be awarded a Truth & Reconciliation Grant from ArtsWave to develop a special series exploring the unique African American histories featuring the Cincinnati neighborhoods of the West End, Evanston, Avondale, and South Cumminsville. This series, titled, Lost Voices of Cincinnati combines oral histories from long-time Black residents with expert interviews and archival audio as a means to uncover patterns of wrongdoing, preserve memory, and give voice to those whose stories have been forgotten or ignored. You can find Urban Roots wherever you listen to podcasts (Apple, Spotify, and on Youtube).
Deeply Rooted Heritage StoryMap “Urban Renewal in Cincinnati’s Lower West End”
The Lower West End ArcGIS StoryMap was created to go along with an episode of the Deeply Rooted Heritage podcast. Although the podcast is on indefinite hiatus, this StoryMap serves as a permanent resource that transports viewers back in time to see what the Lower West End historically looked like using archival materials like Sanborn maps, photographs, and more!