Historic labor jobs that built Cincinnati

Crews spent about six weeks restoring, repairing and cleaning each side of the Winold Reiss mosaic murals inside the rotunda of the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.

History books don’t often report on the everyday workers who toiled to make a living. Cincinnati was a river town, a frontier town, a manufacturing town. That was possible because of the blood, sweat and hard labor of people who built this city, doing many jobs that are long forgotten.

For the first few decades of Cincinnati’s existence, workers were either artisans or laborers. German immigrants had the money to purchase land and the skills to work in trades as butchers, bakers and tailors. Irish immigrants who faced discrimination for being Catholic were relegated to unskilled, dangerous labor such as digging the trench for the Miami & Erie Canal and laying railroad tracks.

More:Why did Cincinnati never finish its subway?

Working along the river

The arrival of steamboats to Cincinnati’s riverfront in 1811 brought a new trade – shipbuilding. The landing was also bustling with stevedores and longshoremen who hefted heavy parcels and crates up and down the gangways, loading and unloading cargo.

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