A congregation of Cincinnati photographers and bloggers gathered at the Hall of Justice, er... Cincinnati Museum Center for a behind-the-scenes tour of Union Terminal. Our team of heroes was organized by the museum's Digital Engagement team: Lauren Bishop and Natalie Nichols. The tour was led by Steve Terheiden, Senior Director of Operations at Cincinnati Museum Center.

Lauren, Natalie, Steve, and our mighty group of photographers.

With over 200 photographs from the tour, our adventures will be posted in a seven-part series. Today, we explore the high steel of Union Terminal's rotunda.

Union Terminal construction, circa 1930.

Union Terminal is one of the largest half-dome rotundas in the world. Our journey began by climbing over 300 stairs to reach the high steel, located 115 feet above ground level.

The narrow catwalk along the rotunda façade leading to the high steel.

View of Cincinnati from the rotunda catwalk.

View of inside Cincinnati Museum Center from the rotunda catwalk.
The mural is 105 feet long and 20 feet high.

Water damage along the interior of the rotunda façade, just after the catwalk.

Our path led us by some deteriorating walls of the rotunda; cracks and holes formed by years of rain and winter weather. The Museum Center may have only opened in 1990, but Union Terminal has been standing proud since 1933.

See the point of the triangle? Right above it, inside the concrete, is a petrified wooden peg with the diameter of a CD. This small peg supports all of the beams of the rotunda architecture. Engineers chose petrified wood knowing it would not rust or decay, and would withstand the test of time.

Friend and fellow-blogger Maureen and her sister, Mandi, ascend the stairwell to the high steel.

Half-way up. First glimpse of the architecture that makes up Union Terminal's rotunda.

Thousands of rivets bind the steel beams together. In 1930, this was done by hand with early machinery. Surprisingly, only very few rivets missed their target, like this one.

It's a long way up.

Top of the dome.

A common sight: signatures from the construction crews who transformed Union Terminal into the Museum Center in 1990.

Union Terminal is a National Historic Landmark, so yes, this is vandalism. 
Pulleys and gears. These raise and lower the giant American flag in the rotunda.
Did you know this is the largest American flag in the State of Ohio?
Footprints in the dust.
Hooked on history.

Pulleys and gears for rotunda banners.

Throughout the rotunda, there are 3-inch holes used to hang banners and decorations. This one is directly above the information desk. Yes, a laser pointer was put to good use.

Over the peak and on our way down.
Descending. It's a long, vertical way down.

Rusting structural steel is just one of the many assets included in the $150 million Union Terminal repair estimate. This may be a good time to reiterate the CD-sized wooden peg holding everything together...

Check out the Instagrams posted live from our tour.
Learn more about Funding to Restore Union Terminal.