“I Knew What I Wanted to Do” James Starks Shares His West End Story

Written by Keloni Parks, Branch Manager, West End Branch Library

For this episode of the West End Stories Project, we spoke to retired music executive, James Starks, who developed his musical talents at Sands Elementary School, Lafayette Bloom Junior High School, opens a new window, and Taft High School. During most of his time in the West End, he lived with his family on Wilstach St., which was slated for redevelopment in the 60's. 

Episode Notes

Mr. Starks lived on 1047 Wilstach St. in an area that became known as the Liberty-Dalton Urban Renewal Project. Wedged between the railroad tracks and Interstate 75, the area was explored as a potential site for a new Cincinnati Reds stadium in the 1960s when nearby Crosley Field became outdated. Although the stadium was ultimately built on the riverfront, the Liberty-Dalton area was still redeveloped for industrial use.

When it was publicly announced that the area would be redeveloped, many renters, property owners, and businesses left, causing living conditions in the area to deteriorate. Homeowners who couldn’t afford to leave were stuck waiting for the city to receive urban renewal funds to acquire their homes so that they could relocate. The area was demolished in 1973 and is now part of Cincinnati’s Queensgate neighborhood. Heidelberg Distributing and the Wegman Company now sit where Wilstach once was.  

If you or someone you know lived or spent a significant amount of time in the West End, consider sharing your story. Call 513-369-6900 or email westend@chpl.org for more information. 

Listen to past and future episodes of the West End Stories Project podcast by subscribing today. Find more CHPL podcasts on our website.