Reminiscing over family photos is a great way to pass the time over the days and weeks of our current quarantine dominated lives. It’s also a great way to make sure those stories get passed along while those involved are still around to bring that still image to life. It’s a great way to connect generations together and provides the chance to recreate those images from the same location once we get back to normal.
Our ancestors did many of the same things we do or can do today. They went to the local zoological park to take in the wonders of the animal world. And although they gazed at exhibits that would not survive to modern times, it provided a much needed break from the daily grind and a chance to see a child’s face light up when seeing a monkey, tiger or elephant for the first time.

early 1940s view of Monkey habitat and exhibit at Cincinnati Zoo


Their curiosity led them to the observation deck of the Carew Tower where they could gaze out upon the river cities of Cincinnati, Newport and Covington. There they spent a nickel or dime on one of the mounted binoculars to take a closer look at historic buildings like Music hall or Union Terminal. Or perhaps they zeroed in on the traffic on or above the river and marveled at the ingenuity of building the many bridges spanning it.

Looking towards Newport from atop Carew Tower in early 1940s


Church dominates photo but note the billboard ads for Coney Island and Citizen Kane in the foreground


They spent their days shopping in the bustling downtown business districts and making plans to see the eagerly anticipated release of Citizen Kane. They rode streetcars and took inclines to Mt. Adams and other hilltops around the city. They took in the scenic opportunities provided by local parks and posed for a quick photo of the family. They marveled at the planes taking off from nearby Lunken Airfield and perhaps, they stood in awe, knowing that the same airport they looked down upon from the hilltop was just a few years prior submerged by flooding waters of the same Ohio River they viewed the day before.

Looking down upon Lunken Airfield in early 1940s


Looking down from atop Mt. Adams incline early 1940s


Downtown Cincinnati in the early 1940s


And then, like so many photos, they were sentenced and sent to some form of cardboard or plastic prison. So, if you find yourself bored over the coming weeks and unable to visit many of your favorite places, dig out some of those old photos. Reach out to your older relatives and ask them to do some reminiscing with you. Ask them whether they have photos in their possession and make plans to see them soon. Share some of those favorites over e-mail or social media and record those important details before they are lost to time.
And if you aren’t fortunate enough to have older photos at home, visit the library’s Faces and Places Photographic Archive, now totaling more than 125,000 images, and search away. Preserving the history of our region is an integral part of the library’s mission and thus, we welcome your submissions.
Paul Duryea is the Branch Manager at the Covington Library as well as an amateur genealogist.