Before the Unit
Student Readings
Primary Sources
End of Unit

Student Reading 4.3: Changing Ideas

If you stand on a sidewalk and look around Cincinnati today, you will see and hear many different ways that people, ideas, and products are moved from place to place.

The streets are filled with cars, vans, buses, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and we might even see a police officer on a horse. Soon, there will be a street car running downtown. Look up, and you will probably see an airplane. You may see or hear a train as it whistles its way through the city. Transportation today is quick and easy. Some of these vehicles provide transportation for people as they move around to get to jobs, school, and leisure activities. Others carry goods to be bought and sold. Products of all kinds are taken from factories and farms to markets and stores where people can buy them and take them home or to work.

As you look around, you will also see hundreds of signs posted around town. The signs share all kinds of different information and ideas. We might see important information, like a sign telling us to stop, or one saying we need to slow down because children might be playing nearby. Listen and you are sure to hear cell phones buzzing. The calls and texts that are shared allow an exchange of ideas between people in a quick and easy way. We pass ideas along through emails and on websites on our computers. Books, magazines, and televisions allow us to learn new ideas. Information is moving between people all the time.

If we were able to travel back in time and look around Cincinnati long ago, we might see and hear some of the same things, but we would also find many things that are different. Cincinnati has had many changes over time.

If we looked at the streets of Cincinnati as it was first being built, we would see horses, wagons, and many people on foot. We would notice that people, and products, mostly arrived by boat on the river. The land around Cincinnati was still wilderness, and there were few roads. As time passed, and roads were cleared, horse and wagon travel became easier. In the 1800’s, canals were built to allow water travel across Ohio. Steamboats and trains appeared in the 1800’s, as well. These methods of transportation carried people and products. They were not quick and easy by today’s standards, but they were much faster than walking!

Communication in those early days was slow, as well. Handwritten letters took time to reach their destinations. Newspapers were an important source of information, but getting the news from other parts of the country took time, and often the news was old by the time people heard it. Eventually, again in the 1800’s, the telegraph was invented. This brought much quicker information and news. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the telephone was invented. This invention made communication even faster. Exchanging ideas could be done in an instant, even between people thousands of miles away from each other.

Download a Printable PDf of this Assignment