Sometimes we hear things so frequently that we forget their importance, or take them at face value and leave it there. Cincinnatians have hung their caps for years on the fact that the Reds are the oldest professional baseball team, established in 1869.
It’s given us a bit of a chip on our collective shoulder, not to mention a universal sneer toward those teams that now start “before” Opening Day. Because those of us who call this area home can agree: baseball starts – when it starts in Cincinnati.
But the beginnings of baseball got me thinking: how many other things started here? What other history has been made? The Reds may be the most famous first, but there are plenty more.
The team actually had a couple more firsts: including the first night game (1935) and the first televised game (1939, against the Brooklyn Dodgers). It also featured one of Cincinnati’s iconic products, P&G’s Ivory soap, as one of the first ever televised commercials.
And as they said in many a commercial from my youth, “But wait! There’s more!”
Just a year after the Cincinnati Red Stockings took the field for the first time, the University of Cincinnati was established – the second oldest municipal university in the U.S.
In 1906, UC had a first of its own: It established the first co-operative education program in the world, allowing students to do a school-work rotation during their undergraduate years.
Gibson Greeting Cards put Cincinnati on the map as the first city to publish greeting cards in 1850. I’m assuming there’s a card for that.
Cincinnati’s Rookwood Pottery was the first manufacturing operation operated by a woman, Maria Longworth Nichols Storer.
The city also boasts the first professional fire department in 1853. Those firefighters were also the first to use steam fire engines.
Cincinnati owns two train-related firsts: It’s the first city to build and own its own major railroad, in 1880. Just 15 years prior, it was also the site of the first American train robbery.
We can lay claim to the Boy Scouts of America, founded here in 1905, the Filet-O-Fish in 1963, and the first concrete skyscraper, the Ingalls Building, in 1903. Sixteen stories may not seem like a lot now, but it broke records in the early 20th century.
Medically, Cincinnati has rewritten history. The first Jewish hospital in the country was established here in 1850, in a combination effort to both treat Cincinnatians suffering from the cholera epidemic and to provide jobs to Jewish doctors who had trouble finding employment elsewhere. The first heart-lung machine was invented by doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1952, making it possible for the first time to do open-heart surgery. Long before both of those innovations, in 1865, the first ambulance service also happened right here in Cincinnati.
What can we say? Cincinnati’s been home to trendsetters for years. We’ll be on the lookout for a Gibson Greetings thank you card from the rest of the country. Maybe even by airmail, which was – you guessed it – invented here in 1835.
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