You may have been wondering, while passing Tacocracy, why it says Jacobs’ in black tiles below the front entrance: History. This sign is just one glimpse among many that are hidden in the foundation of our favorite restaurants, shops, and bars. These are windows into the community Northside used to be.
In 1926, Lou Jacobs’ parents opened Jacobs’ Women’s Apparel in the building that is now Tacocracy. It successfully stayed open until 1987. When asking Lou why they set the name in tile rather than hang a sign, his response was spirited, “They wanted to put up a sign that would last forever. People who owned businesses and lived in Northside really thought they’d be there forever.”
Northside wasn’t just self-sufficient then, it was a major hot spot. Local businesses were booming. There were three theaters, watch and shoe repair shops, restaurants, saloons, hardware stores, and banks. Knowlton’s corner, also known as Five Points, was the second biggest transfer point for buses and streetcars in Cincinnati.
On Saturdays, the sidewalks were so crowded with shoppers that pedestrians flooded the streets to buy all they needed for the week. Northside was doing so well that the Americus Theater had air conditioning when nowhere else did.
Everything one could need was in just a few miles of Hamilton. “Families stayed there for generations. People took care of the neighborhood and the neighborhood took care of them,” Lou adds.
And Northside has always had its quirks, even in the 1930’s. In Wilson’s Saloon, a stag bar, a small lady used to take a broom to any woman who tried to order a drink. Betting on horses and other business transactions occurred in the back of these saloons.
Some of the businesses have even survived the 1937 Flood, when many of the buildings were filled up to the second floor with river and Mill Creek water– Northside Bank, Ace Hardware, and more.
Lou is just one of many from a generation of hard working business owners, and that trend has not ended. Recently, signs for many of the businesses in Northside have been unveiled. They’re striking, memorable, and once again connect us as a community. They bring locals and neighbors from the suburbs to our backyard, but the signs are not what folks remember. Though Jacobs is still etched into the scenery, what Lou remembers and what we will remember is the quaint and memorable experiences we have under those signs.
By Rae Hoffman