Dr. Know: Crumbling Crosley, An Icy Overpass, and What Is W.A.P.A.?


The planned demolition of UC’s Crosley Tower reminds me of this rumor: During construction, one of the concrete forms was said to have been slightly misaligned. They had to constantly adjust as the concrete kept going, resulting in the world’s largest continuously poured screwup. Is that true? —FAULTY TOWER

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

Dear Faulty:
Many devotees of UC would happily award Crosley Tower a stomped-on Lifetime Unachievement trophy. Since opening as a science facility in 1970, the structure has inspired much, shall we say, comment. It’s been described as a giant Pez dispenser. Architectural Digest called it one of the ugliest university buildings in America.

Those who spent time inside the place cursed the broken elevators and dripping ceilings. Outside wasn’t much of an alternative after chunks of concrete from the 16-story tower began breaking off. No one remembers today which flavors of Pez the chunks were.

Whispers persist about Crosley Tower’s creation. At the time, its unusual construction process raised many eyebrows: 18 days and nights, continuously pouring a single hunk of concrete. Greg Hand, who continuously pored over UC’s public relations for decades (and continuously contributes to this magazine) knows of your misalignment rumor, but has never found evidence to support it. Besides, don’t you agree that the rumor about a workman falling into the wet concrete while the pouring just kept going is a far superior one?

There’s a pedestrian overpass that arches from Mt. Adams over I-71 and down to the Greyhound station. I recently moved, and now regularly use it. The arch is quite steep, and I’m worried about slippery ice when winter comes. Does the city clear this overpass, or at least salt it? —OVERPASS THE SALT

Dear Salt:
This column regularly receives questions—frustrated ones, mostly—about city services. Readers are reminded that the Doctor’s mission is to seek only answers, not tedious abstractions such as solutions. Thank you for being curious rather than complaining.

The City of Cincinnati’s website has a “Snow and Ice Control” page, but the word “overpass” does not appear there. A call to the site’s phone number got a recording that said, “Your estimated wait time is [different voice] EIGHTEEN!! [original voice] minutes.” Sigh. Eventually a woman answered, who very courteously knew nothing at all about your issue. But she suggested contacting DCI (Downtown Cincinnati, Inc.). This did get results. They knew exactly whom at the city to contact: Jerry Wilkerson, director of public services.

Mr. Wilkerson assured the Doctor that during winter weather, you need not worry—city overpasses receive the same prompt attention as city streets. Some readers, we should acknowledge, may have just involuntarily snorted their coffee at the previous sentence.

My family is from Northside. We have an 1895 program from a local show sponsored by the “W.A.P.A.” It lists songs and speeches, and has many ads for Northside businesses. But it never explains what the initials “W.A.P.A.” mean. Google doesn’t help. Can you? —INITIALLY IGNORANT

Dear Ignorant:
The 1890s were awash in civic and religious organizations, some popular enough for their abbreviations to be universally understood. We can’t decipher them today, but in 100 years, will anyone know what “KFC” means?

The Doctor has uncovered the probable meaning of “W.A.P.A.,” but it will not please you. Most likely, it was the Women’s chapter of the American Protestant Association, a group formed in 1842 to defend against the “subversive” and “destructive” influence of Roman Catholics. Its mission was to protect Americans from the increasing “assaults of Romanism.” Perhaps just before the 1894 midterms, they had even warned of a Catholic caravan.

That acronym might have instead stood for the American Protective Association, a vastly more militant and sometimes violent anti-Catholic group. They once accused the Pope of secretly telling American Catholics to “exterminate” all Protestants (fake news obviously didn’t start with Facebook). The more benign W.A.P.A., though, was probably the host of your Northside event, which occurred on April 15, 1895. Imagine the crowd’s mood had they known of the “subversive and destructive assaults” that would someday threaten us every April 15 in the future.

Dr. Know is Jay Gilbert, weekday afternoon deejay on 92.5 FM The Fox. Submit your questions about the city’s peculiarities at drknow@cincinnatimagazine.com.

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