My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

Sunrise 16: Ault Park (1960s Bell telephone systems, with a special guest appearance by “The Sun”)

These overcast days have made me lazy. Last week I started setting my alarm at 6:25am, a clean 40 minutes before the sun rise. With the overcast mornings and rain storms we’ve had in the past week, I didn’t bother to re-think the alarm time this week. This morning I woke up at 6:25am and set out for the sun rise at 6:40am (5 minutes before true sunrise – 20 minutes before “overcast” sun rise).

I knew something wasn’t right when I walked into the kitchen. I forgot to make my coffee the night before, so I filled up the kettle and set it on the stove in a sleepy haze. I cracked the window open to get a smell of the morning air and listen to the bird report. The birds were chirping loudly, and I looked up and saw a dark, deep blue sky. Good. Dark and… wait, deep blue? What happened to the gray? I panicked a little bit and walked out side.  Sure enough, the sky was almost cloud free, save for what I could see along the horizon behind the trees. Now, because we’re only about 15 minutes before sun rise and the sky is dark, but clear, this can only mean one thing.  A clear sky with a low-lying cloud bank sitting on top of the horizon, right? “This could be interesting”, I thought to myself. I checked the time – I should have left 5 minutes ago if I wanted to casually stroll up to the park and arrive with some time to spare. I rationed out the water in the kettle so that I had just enough water to fill my thermos, and gathered up everything I needed for the morning. By the time I got out the door and started riding up the street, I was met with an atmosphere that had started to explode in pink and orange. “Oh crap” I thought as I pedaled the hardest and fasted I could up the incline towards the park.

I ended up taking a few pictures on the way. Please excuse the blurry, I was mid-pedal.

I like the entrance into the park because it is appropriate for getting an “eyeball” of what the sunrise is going to do. The massive oaks and old pines rise up 80 feet above me, pointing to the sky but obscuring the horizon. I also noticed that there were gusts of wind, some so strong that I could hear the difference in tire speed as I pedaled into the park. As it turned out, there was an eastern moving front that was trying to come through the valley. You can tell in some of these pictures that the left side of the picture is bright and orange, but the right side is dark and gloomy.

Arriving at the outlook, I realized that I wasn’t too late. I may have missed the opening credits, the but show was just getting started. There was a low-lying front blocking the sun rise (so I didn’t quite miss it!) but the open sky above threw off an array of pinks, oranges, purples, blues, and whites. It reminded me a lot of the sunrise from April 16 (Sunrise 09) where I took my favorite picture, “Wheels of Fire”, against the sun rise. There are two parts to a sun rise like this. The first part is that the atmosphere doesn’t get colorful until about 10 minutes before the sun’s true sunrise time because the clouds are blocking the area just above the horizon. The colors come on quickly but are scattered wide into the periphery of your vision while the horizon itself stays dark. If you are lucky enough to have a completely clear upper atmosphere, the second part of the sun rise comes next.

It caught me off guard this morning while I was taking a picture of the almost flooded east/west lane at lunken airport.

As I turned around I remembered this familiar cloud formation from the aforementioned sunrise 9. The sun finally peaks over the low lying frontal cloud bank, and if you’re even luckier it can be obscured by a higher level haze allowing you to look at it directly. This is a close up taken just as the transition from “stage 1” to “stage 2” takes place.The light illuminates the upper area of the lower cloud bank and provides a rolling mountainous plane. It really is a sight to see. The camera does it justice in some cases, but in person it just looks outstanding. This particular low-lying bank had a unique feature. The lower pieces of the bank started to spread thin, allowing patches of deep orange to shine directly down towards the earth. This provided a surreal situation where you’ve got the bright yellow/orange illuminated upper mountainous region with deep orange spot lights poking through towards the forest.

Needless to say, this sun rise was the last thing I expected when I woke up this morning.

I found myself on the eastern part of the park. I took the long way home, past the observatory and down through Mt. Lookout square.

I had hoped to catch the observatory against the beautiful backdrop, but as I was leaving the park the eastern moving front moved through to block most of the light.

I took the chance to snap a picture looking west on Observatory across Delta Ave. This is just north of Mt. Lookout Square. Behind me is Ault Park and the surrounding residential neighborhood. Observatory runs a parallel east/west with Erie Ave and provides a popular flat stretch for the local runners (and part of the Flying Pig route), considering most of the area is made up of unforgiving hills.

On the way back home I passed a building that I often wonder about but haven’t checked out. It sits on the corner of a quiet neighborhood inlet and Delta Ave. The lawn is always well kept and the brick building sits confidently in the middle of the plot. You can tell it is still maintained but it isn’t labeled in any obvious way. There are newspapers piling up on the front porch – enough to indicate that there is life on the property but that they don’t use the front door.  As I’m staring at the building, wondering how long after the “1940-1950s art deco boom” that is responsible for so many of the Cincinnati Water Works buildings, I noticed a plaque on the wall just to the right of the front door.

The plaque reads “The Cincinnati and Suburban Bell Telephone Company”. Ahh. An old relic of the Bell / AT&T monopoly. I don’t know much about this history (AT&T alone is interesting), but the local telephone carrier Cincinnati Bell is one of the few fragments left that still uses the “Bell” moniker. The history of Unix is tied into AT&T history as well, of course, which means that your ANDROID  phone (running linux) and even the iPhone (which can be traced back to FreeBSD/Unix) can be tied back to the legacy Bell computer systems. All of which are, in a 6-kevin-bacon-degrees-of-freedom kind of way, connected to this building. I bet there are some sexy analog switchboards hidden in the closets of this building. Judging by the brick and “modern” look, I’d place building to have been built sometime in the late 1960s / early 1970s. +/- 15 years, I don’t have anything to compare it to. A little bit more Googling and I find that this logo (seen above in the plaque) dates back to 1964.

UPDATE: The Cincinnati Bell History Page says that in 1971 the company officially changed names from “City Suburban Telegraph Company” to “Cincinnati Bell”.  That places this building as being built between 1964 (when the logo was first used) and 1971 (when the name changed). Holy cow, I was really close in my original guess. The page also mentions that there were several switching stations, one was called the “East” exchange. Perhaps this is the building they’re referencing?

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One response

  1. Pingback: Sunrise 40: Ault Park (Achievement Unlocked! and Alms Park Sunset #3 with Mountainous Cumulus Clouds) « Ault Park Sunrise

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