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A Large Early View of Cincinnati--Shortly After Completion of the World's Longest Suspension Bridge Designed by John Roebling

Rare early view of Cincinnati, lithographed by Wentzel and issued in Paris and Wissembourg (France) by Wentzel.

This large view was produced shortly after the completion of the John A. Roebling's suspension bridge.  Roebling would go on to design the Brooklyn Bridge, among his many accomplishments.

John Reps dates the view to 1867, which is consistent with the addition of the Paris office of FC Wentzel's publishing house, which occurred at about the time of the Paris World's Fair. The view was pre-dated by an earlier, smaller view of Cincinnati by Wentzel, issued circa 1857, which does not show the Roebling bridge.

The view shows a remarkably refined image of the Cincinnati, shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, at a time when the completion of the Roebling bridge put Cincinnati on the map as a world class city.  With a population of about 200,000, Cincinnati was already becoming a significant manufacturing hub.  In 1859, Cincinnati laid out six streetcar lines, with cards pulled by horses, which made it easier for people to get around the city.  By 1872, Cincinnatians could travel on the streetcars within the city and transfer to rail cars for travel to the hill communities. The Cincinnati Inclined Plane Company began transporting people to the top of Mount Auburn that year.

Roebling Bridge

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, originally known as the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge spans the Ohio River between Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky. When opened on December 1, 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,057 feet main span.  

Ramps were constructed leading directly from the bridge to the Dixie Terminal building used for streetcars. These provided Covington–Cincinnati streetcars "with a grade-separated route to the center of downtown, and the terminal building was originally intended to connect, via underground pedestrian passages, with the never-built Fountain Square Station of the infamous Cincinnati Subway."

Jean Frederic Wentzel Biography

Jean Frédéric Wentzel (1807-1869), was an engraver, lithographer and printer who founded a large printing press of popular lithographic and typographic imagery Wissembourg, France, (Bas-Rhin) about 40 miles north of Strasbourg.

Son of Philippe Frédéric Wentzel,and Catherine Lehr, he began his career as an apprentice with a bookbinder. His apprenticeship completed, later working as a binder in Paris.

Returning to Wissembourg, he was an early entry into the field of lithography. Encouraged and financially supported by friends, he founded his first workshop at Faubourg Landau in Wissembourg in 1831 . Initially he was devoted primarily to the production of religious images, over time he developed a broader business.

In addition to publishing various books and prints, the printer was best known throughout Europe for its popular imagery during the golden age.  The artistic quality of the lithographs working for Wentzel has been recognized for its varied production of religious images, prints , picture books, characters and construction games to cut, and finally his puppets and his military images.

By 1845, the workshop had nearly a dozen hand presses and employed artisans from Germany and Switzerland .

When Jean Frédéric Wentzel died in 1869, the company owned eighteen lithographic presses, one of which was steam, three printing presses, two printing presses and five engraving presses. It employed twenty-six typographers, sixteen cartoonists and lithographers, and more than one hundred and twenty colorists, mostly women and children.

Its production is widely distributed across Europe by hundreds of peddlers. The Paris World Exhibition of 1867 and the opening of a "Sales Office located at 65 rue Saint Jacques in Paris" dedicated to the production of the workshop completed its growth. The texts of his images are translated into German, English, Italian, Hebrew and Arabic.

The firm's demise occurred following 1870 and the decimation of the town during the Franco-Prussian War.