Carew Tower

Carew Tower

Carew Tower is the tallest building in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. It stands 49 stories tall in the heart of downtown, overlooking the Ohio River waterfront, and is a national historic landmark. It contains the Netherland Plaza Hotel (currently a Hilton, and formerly the Omni Netherland Plaza). Palm Court, the former lobby of the hotel, and now the restaurant, is described by the hotel as the "finest example of French Art Deco architecture in the world." However, the building will be eclipsed by the Great American Insurance Building at Queen City Square in 2011 rising higher than the Carew Tower.


The building was designed by the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon Associates, the designers of the Empire State Building. The Carew Tower, built before the Empire State Building was conceived, served as the basis for the design of the larger Empire State Building, as evidenced by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates' ability to produce the building drawings for the Empire State Building in just two weeks.

Construction began in September 1929, just one month before the stock market crash on October 24 that triggered the Great Depression. Because of this, construction was continued on a modified plan. The grand details (architectural motifs, friezes, and decorative metal) that are common on art deco buildings were stopped at the third floor and plain bricks were used on the floors above. Art deco themes can be found throughout the building, particularly in the metalwork and grillwork of the elevators and lights. Rookwood Pottery floral tiles add the "Cincy" touch to the building. Sculpture on the exterior and interior of the building were executed by New York architectural sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan.

The total cost of the building was US$33 million, which at that time was an enormous amount of money. It took crews only 13 months to complete the construction, working 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Today the building is home to a mixed crowd of tenants, including a shopping mall, the Netherland Plaza Hotel, and offices. Visitors can pay a small fee to access the observation deck, which is located on the 49th floor. On a clear day, visitors can see for several miles in all directions and three states (Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio).

The building originally had three towers, the tallest housing offices, the second the hotel, and the third serving as a parking garage which had an elevator rather than traditional ramps for access. There was also a turntable for vehicles to assist in pointing delivery trucks in the right direction. The system has since been dismantled. During the mid- to late-1980s a giant inflatable gorilla was attached to the upper floors.


Name & location

Official Name: Carew Tower
Namesake: Joseph Thomas Carew
Address: 441 Vine Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Cross streets: Vine Street
West 5th Street
Zone: Fountain Square
Neighborhood: Central Business District / Riverfront
District: District 1 (center)
Current status: In use (designated National Historic Landmark in 1994)

Technical data

Height (structure): 574 ft (175 m)
Floors: 49
Construction begin: September, 1929
Construction end: January, 1931
Elevators: 41


Type: High-rise building
Structural materials: Steel
Facade materials: Brick
Architectural style: Art deco
Original cost (1929): $33,000,000


  • 1.383 million square feet (128,000 m²) of total floor area
  • 9 miles of brass piping
  • 15 railroad cars full of glass
  • 37 miles of steel piping
  • 40 railroad cars full of stone
  • 60 miles of floor and window molding
  • 60 railroad cars full of lumber
  • 4500 plumbing fixtures
  • 5000 doors
  • 8000 windows (upon its completion in 1931)
  • 15000 tons of structural steel
  • 4 million bricks in the outer structure


This building, along with the PNC Tower, which was called the Central Trust Bank tower at that time, was prominently featured in the opening and closing sequences of the daytime drama The Edge of Night prior to 1980; Cincinnati's skyline was used as a stand-in for the show's setting, Monticello. Coincidentally (or not), Procter & Gamble, who produced The Edge of Night, is based in Cincinnati.

External links

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