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OKI Wanna Know: An Oakley Oddity, Ghost Stairs And More Cincinnati-Specific Questions

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Bill Rinehart
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WVXU

Our feature OKI Wanna Know gives you a chance to ask questions that aren't easily answered. This week, we take five questions with simple, but hard-to-find answers.

The five questions all had something in common: The city of Cincinnati. And for the answers, we turned to Kelly Carr in the city manager's office. She did the heavy lifting on this one.

Oakley's Odd Door

The first question is from Aaron Yonka, who says along Madison Road in Oakley, near Madtree Brewery, there is a roll-up door built into the side of the wall. What is inside?

The door in the wall is an entranceway to what used to be a pedestrian tunnel that led to the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company, a k a Milacron. It was built in the 1950s when the railroad bridge was built. The tunnel was eventually sealed off. And what was the Milacron facility is now Oakley Station, with apartments, office space, stores, restaurants and bars, and a theater.

Columbia Parkway's 'Ghost Stairs'

Two people asked about the ghost stairs on Columbia Parkway. Yvonne LaCharity and David Sherman pointed out on US 50 between Delta and Kemper, the concrete wall on the north side of the road has imprints of stairs and railings. They want to know: Were there homes or businesses there at one time? Or is it just a pattern in the design?

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Bill Rinehart
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WVXU
Concrete was poured into the old stairwells, and once it had dried, the handrails were removed.

Columbia Parkway wasn't always a highway. It was a road, with a sidewalk along the north side. And yes, there were staircases leading up to houses on the hillside. When the highway was built, the sidewalks along the road and leading up to the houses were removed. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, crews poured the cement to close off the stairway openings, leaving us with the impressions we still see today.

Who Lights The Gaslight District?

Ben Merritt in Clifton wonders who maintains the gas lights in the Gaslight District.

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Bill Rinehart
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WVXU
This gaslight at Thrall and Telford is one of 1,100 still used in Cincinnati.

Kelly Carr says the first gas streetlights were installed here in 1843 by the Cincinnati Gas, Light & Coke Company, which evolved into Cincinnati Gas & Electric. It's not clear when Clifton got its famous gaslights, but the neighborhood was annexed into the city in 1896. Today, Cincinnati has a contract with Cincinnati Gaslite Company for maintenance. Fun fact: There are still 1,100 gaslights in the city.

Why No Right On Red Or Left On Sundays?

Barbara Rohrer writes, "Why can't we turn right on red onto Broadway when driving east on Fifth Street Downtown?"

The city's response is: the no right-turn-on-red rule applies at that intersection because of heavy pedestrian traffic.

Going in the other direction, Michael Humler says coming out of Eden Park Overlook there are signs that say no left turn on Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. He says he's never seen a reason for it, but notices the signs were recently reinstalled so he assumes they must serve a purpose.

In 1995, the city developed the Eden Park Circulation plan, and that included no left turns to improve traffic flow on Sunday.

If you have a question of your own, you can ask it here and we may answer it in a future episode:

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio in markets including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.