Cincinnati Bell Building
Image by elycefeliz
Photo published in Information Week with photo by Elyce Feliz
The Cincinnati Bell Telephone Company building on West Seventh Street in Cincinnati, Ohio was completed in 1931. The Art Deco-style building was designed by Harry Hake, a Cincinnati architect.
The 12-story builidng was designed with floor heights of at least 12 feet to house the new telephone equipment.
A decorative border above the second story is lined with niches in which cut-stone French telephones alternate with headphones. Communication is further symbolized by several reliefs showing the ancient runner, Alexander Bells’s first telephone effort, flag signaling from a ship, and conventional representations of a woman with a hare, swan, and hawk. In the ornate marble lobby are gold-and-silver metal reliefs of figures symbolizing man’s art, industry, and conquest of space.
The Cincinnati Bell Telephone Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
The City and Suburban Telegraph Company, later Cincinnati Bell Telephone, was officially incorporated on July 5, 1873, becoming the first company in the city to provide direct communication between the city`s homes and businesses. Manufacturer and philanthropist Andrew Erkenbrecher became the company`s first president in 1874. Rates were fixed at 0 a year for one line.
By mid-1877, when the telephone was first demonstrated in Cincinnati, the Association was maintaining about 50 private telegraph lines between offices and plants or residences. Customers were equipped with a simple telegraph instrument and a code book, and young men who pedaled foot treadles served as operators and powered the call bells.
In September 1878, the City and Suburban Association signed a contract with the Bell Telephone Company of Boston (the nation`s first telephone service and manufacturing company) for a license to furnish Bell telephone service in the Queen City area. The Association then became the exclusive agent for Bell telephones within a 25-mile radius of Cincinnati.
Located at the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets downtown, Bell Telephonic Exchange was the first telephonic exchange in Ohio and the 10th in the nation. In 1879, the first telephone directory was published and the first line extended across the Suspension Bridge to Covington, Ky. Women, or "hello girls" who had to memorize all callers` names, took the place of men as operators, and 25 employees served more than 1,000 customers. A total of 145,392 calls had been recorded for the year.
Cincinnati Bell is one of only two American companies that continue to actively promote itself under the "Bell" name. As of August 2006, Cincinnati Bell has ceased all public usage of the last Bell logo, designed in 1969 by Saul Bass, simply opting to use a stylized, shadowed version of its corporate name on its website. The company had already removed the Bell logo from its telephone directories’ covers for some time.
The newsmagazine 60 Minutes reported in 1989 that Cincinnati Bell cooperated with local police to wiretap local residents in search of alleged communist or criminal activity from 1972 to 1984.
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