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A Business Mecca in the 1800s

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German-Americans put Zinzinnati to work in the 1800s, and helped build the region into a shining commerce center.

German immigrants were responsible for developing industries that are considered "native" to Cincinnati, such as meat packing, the machine industry and building trades.

Albert Stein, a German engineer, planned Zinzinnati's water works in 1817. Frederick Rammelsberg of Hanover introduced machine production of furniture. The brewing industry in Zinzinnati, and across the United States, was a creation of German-American businessmen. The famous Christian Moerlein Brewery was started here in 1853. Other German names connected to brewing include Schoenling and Hudepohl.

Local banking grew out of the thriftiness of the German population. Germans established mutual savings societies and credit unions, and loaned money at interest at their weekly meetings. These meetings were frequently held in a tavern over a glass of beer, and with a staff that consisted of a part-time secretary.

Baking is yet another industry that Germans established in Zinzinnati. Rubel's and Klosterman's are just two that operated locally for decades. Unfortunately, Rubel's is no longer in business. There were also many small baking establishments operated by German-Americans in various Zinzinnati neighborhoods. In fact, there were so many German bakers that they even formed their own singing society - the Baeckergesangverein.

One of Zinzinnati's most prominent early citizens, Martin Baum, was a merchant, banker and real estate dealer, becoming one of the community's weathliest and most influential leaders.

Source: German-American Heritage Teaching Guide, Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, University of Cincinnati, 513.556.1955

Special thanks to Don Tolzmann, Director of the German-American Studies Program at the University of Cincinnati for his contributions to this site.

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