The City of Cincinnati anticipated the proposed Banks and Street Grid Project would impact a National Register of Historic Places eligible site and city retained Gray & Pape in 2010 to conduct an archaeological investigation. Buried underneath the parking lot between the Roebling Suspension Bridge and Paul Brown Stadium the site consists of intact nineteenth century historic deposits including architectural remains, artifacts, and features.
Firm archaeologists excavated a 45- by 45-ft area at the former northeast corner of Race and Water streets. In the nineteenth century, two adjacent, three-story structures sat at this location. The buildings were about 35 ft tall and made of brick. Their ground floors once held a saloon and grocery store, while families and individuals lived in the upper stories. Residents included laborers, teamsters, clerks, bricklayers, tailors, ironers, tobacconists, and musicians. More three-story buildings were immediately to the north and residential buildings were to the east, but separated by a passageway.
As archaeologists excavated the site, they soon discovered buried architectural features including the remains of foundation walls, brick basement floors, and coal chutes. They collected more than 600 artifacts, representing the remains of items left behind or lost by the buildings’ occupants so long ago. Among the artifacts recovered were a pocketknife, 1880 penny, ceramic doll fragments, an eyeglass lens, metal buttons, as well as ceramic dishes, drinking glasses, and liquor, beer, and mineral water bottles.
Due to the intense public interest surrounding the Banks project, Gray & Pape created a public education exhibit that included a brochure, display panels, and public presentations to share the history and significance of the artifacts to the area. The exhibit was displayed at local libraries as well as the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.