Cleveland's Terminal Tower turns 75

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, June 28, 2005, 5:17 PM | comments: 1

Cleveland is a weird city, because its downtown area is about as big, and in some cases smaller, than other cities that are overall about the same size in population. But through it all, they skyline has always been associated with the Terminal Tower, the 700-foot building on Public Square. Up until 1991, when Key Tower opened, it was the tallest building downtown. (Story from The Plain Dealer.) If you've seen the movie A Christmas Story, you've seen the building.

The name was designated in part because of all of the trains that cross through its basement. These days it's all commuter rail, but prior to the 70's you could jump on full passenger trains out of town.

It's strange, because I remember going there when I was a kid with my grandfather. Back in those days, in the late 70's, the actual terminal was largely closed. I remember going down there for I think a model train exhibit that was there, ironic since the real trains were gone. The one main hall that led to the trains had a lot of dirty marble walls and had fallen into disrepair.

A decade later, a lot of effort was put into restoring and expanding the building, and that's why we now have "The Avenue" portion, which is mostly retail and office space.

Another memory is the old Higbee portion of the building. This was the department store there, also in the above movie. I remember it being weird that every floor you went up, the escalators became more and more narrow. Even more fascinating in retrospect was that some of them were wood.

The building represents an interesting part of Cleveland's history, and it's one of the few symbols of the pre-depression era of the city that have managed to survive. The various mansions are gone, most of the industry is gone. Despite the traffic consequences, I really kind of hope they're able to close the shoreway and build new residential and retail down there. That would make downtown a very interesting place again. (Of course, by the time that happens, I don't know that I even want to be living here anymore!)


FreewheelinJoe, June 28, 2005, 11:25 PM #


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