Max Grinnell is an author, historian, and professor who excels at sharing unique perspectives of American cities. This June, he will return to Cincinnati to host a series of walking tours titled Out of the Past: Tales from the Federal Writers Guide to Cincinnati On Foot.
The walking tours are inspired by Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, a book published in 1943 for the Federal Writers’ Project. This book was a part of the American Guide Series, also known as the WPA guides, which was a program funded by the New Deal to employ writers during the Great Depression.
"These guides are nothing short of amazing and interestingly enough, the Cincinnati guidebook was the last big one to be released," Grinnell said. Today, the book serves as a snapshot of 1943 Cincinnati, when the city’s population was 455,610 and now-iconic structures like Carew Tower and Union Terminal were just a decade old.
This time period was "a bit of an 'amber' moment" in Cincinnati's history, Grinnell said, "as this was the Queen City at its industrial peak. I consider [Cincinnati's WPA guide] one of the better city guides produced by the Federal Writers' Project."
This will be Grinnell's fourth time hosting a Cincinnati walking tour of this nature. Grinnell says he has refined the concept over the years, adding in even more historical context from other sources. "I’ve also done a bit more original research through local papers, business directories, and photograph archives from the University of Cincinnati," Grinnell said. "This year, we’ll be hitting some of the familiar places we’ve enjoyed in the past, including the Netherland Plaza, and also talking about those buildings that Cincy has lost since the book was written."
The 60-minute walking tours will take place on June 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Tickets are available for $15 per person at Grinnell's website.