The Ohio River was the original gateway into the state of Ohio. Those who found their way to the mouth of the Cuyahoga River at Lake Erie made their way upstream to high ground and left the swampy lowlands to small bands of settlers led by Lorenzo Carter. By the 1820s there were still less than a 1,000 people in Cleaveland, which had been incorporated in 1814 and still had its first “A.” Legend has it that the pesky vowel was dropped in the 1830s so fit the town name into a newspaper masthead.
Then New York state finished its Erie Canal that provided a water course from the Atlantic Ocean to the western banks of Lake Erie. Work began to connect the Ohio River to Lake Erie as well and competition to become the Great Lakes terminus for the Ohio & Erie Canal was furious. Alfred Kelley, Cleveland’s first practicing attorney, landed the plum assignment for the town and its future was assured. The population went from 1,000 to 6,000 in the 1830s and by the time the canal era ended in the 1850s Kelley had made sure the town was amply connected to the nation’s burgeoning railroad system.
The second half of the 20th century saw Cleveland explode with the shipping of iron ore, the fabrication of metal and the building of ships. John Rockefeller and his lieutenant Henry Flagler not only made Cleveland the center of America’s new oil business but a financial and corporate center to rival the established Eastern cities. The town’s industrial area known as The Flats spawned mills, factories and endless rows of immense warehouses. As Cleveland fanned out along the Lake Erie shore it brushed aside Cincinnati as Ohio’s largest city by the end of the 19th century.
Most of the buildings from that era are gone. The Cleveland streetscape seen today is partly the result of the Cleveland Group Plan in the early 1900s that was the town’s stab at the City Beautiful movement that swept America at the time. Most such plans never materialized but Cleveland’s was more successful than most. Thousands and thousands of buildings were razed in Cleveland in its drive for “beauty for beauty’s sake.” Its centerpiece was the Cleveland Mall that extended from the main business area to the lake. Combined with the nearby Public Square that Moses Cleaveland had plotted as a ten-acre central park, downtown Cleveland has an abundance of open air.
It is not only the proletarian buildings that met the wrecking ball. Euclid Avenue that runs east out of town from Public Square was known nationwide as “millionaire’s Row” where Cleveland’s titans of industry built elegant homes. Out-of-town writers would come to Cleveland and gush over “the most beautiful street in the world.” Today Euclid Avenue has been shorn of most of its landmark residences. Our walking tour of Cleveland, where heritage structures stand cheek-to-jowl with modern skyscrapers, will check in on Euclid Avenue but first we will begin where Moses Cleaveland rowed his boat to shore and stepped out into the swampy morass while swatting away flying insects...
Settler’s Landing Park
Old River Road at St. Clair Avenue
Moses Cleaveland, acting as an agent for the Connecticut Land Company, landed on the east side of the Cuyahoga River on July 22, 1796 and declared it the capital of the state of Connecticut’s vast Western Reserve. Cleaveland and his men hung around long enough to chop down trees and lay out a town site but quickly headed back to civilization. Moses Cleavleand never came back. Maybe it was the mosquitoes described as “the size of your fist” or the tales of nasty Indian spirits but the hard work of settling the swampland was left to Lorenzo and Rebecca Carter. The Carters, Vermont transplants, would not be joined by other settlers for the remainder of the 18th century. Carter traded furs and eventually operated a ferry service across the river. This small cabin, that was rebuilt in 1976 as a gift from the Women’s City Club of Cleveland, served as home to the Carters and their nine children and variously as a school, store, gathering place and even a jail when Lorenzo Carter acted as the town’s first constable. The Detroit-Superior Bridge looming over the cabin was the largest steel and concrete bridge in the world when it was constructed in 1918.
WALK AWAY FROM THE RIVER ON SUPERIOR AVENUE.
Western Reserve Building
1468 West 9th Street at northwestern corner of Superior Avenue
One of the fathers of the modern skyscraper, Daniel Burnham, came to Cleveland from Chicago to design three buildings. This one, the second, constructed between 1889 and 1893, does not as yet feature the steel skeleton of modern high-rises but still boasts mostly load-bearing masonry walls. Its piers of bay windows and corbeled brick cornice are reminiscent of Burnham’s landmark Monadnock Building in Chicago. The eight-story building was constructed for Samuel Mather who extended his family’s mining wealth by expanding aggressively into the iron-rich Minnesota Mesabi and Michigan Marquette Ranges.
730-750 Superior Avenue
Frank Cudell sailed from his native Germany in 1866 at the age of 22 and settled in New York where he worked briefly in the office of esteemed architect Leopold Eidlitz before moving on to Cleveland. In 1871 he formed a partnership with John N. Richardson which became one of the town’s busiest shops. This masonry commercial building was constructed in 1889 for Henry B. Payne, railroad executive and United States Congressman. The “Perry” is Payne’s wife’s family. When the widely-admired building was finished it was the tallest structure between New York and Chicago and was soon filled with lake-shipping and iron ore companies. After a 1990s makeover the heritage structure was re-born as residential space.
614 West Superior Avenue
Architects Wilm Knox and John Eliot were early adopters of the modern skyscraper pioneered by Louis Sullivan. Here they built the first steel-framed structure in Cleveland in Sullivan’s Chicago Style for John D. Rockefeller in 1905. The 17-story structure is the city’s best example of Sullivan’s belief that “form follows function” that marked a shift away from the exuberant decorations encountered on the first skyscrapers. The building was sold to Josiah Kirby in 1918 whose Cleveland Discount Company was the largest company of its kind. But after Kirby was sent to jail for fraud a proud Rockefeller bought the building back to make sure Kirby’s name wasn’t on it. The Rockefeller Building was constructed on the site of the Weddell House, Cleveland’s premier hotel in the 1800s, known as “the Astor House of the Great Lakes.”
State Office Building
615 West Superior Avenue at Prospect Street
This 15-story modern office building was constructed in 1979. Out front is a geometric module by pioneering Minimalist sculptor Tony Smith. Smith, who began his career in the office of Frank Lloyd Wright, titled this work Last never intending to do another sculpture. Indeed, he died of a heart attack the following year at the age of 68.
United States Post Office
410 Superior Avenue
This is third post office for Cleveland and the first time the mail sorters did not have to share space with courthouses and customs officials. Completed in 1934, the building is emblematic of Depression-era buildings that frowned on ornamentation. Here only fluted piers line the long sandstone facade. The post office was the last classical government building in Cleveland.
Renaissance Cleveland Hotel
24 Public Square
Guests have been spending the night on this spot almost as long as there has been a Cleveland. Phinney Mowrey built a public house here in 1812. The current Neoclassical incarnation dates to 1915 when investors raised $4.5 million for the 1,000-room Hotel Cleveland.
TURN RIGHT ON ROADWAY AT THE END OF THE HOTEL.
50 Public Square
Oris Paxton Van Sweringen and Mantis James Van Sweringen were born within 26 months of each other and died within 11 months of each other. In between “the Vans” were inseparable, in life and in business. They resided in the same house and were buried together. The Van Sweringen family moved to Cleveland in 1890 and after some early setbacks entered into the real estate business with a dream to develop their land of Shaker Heights into a well-to-do suburban garden community. In 1913, the Vans established the Cleveland Interurban Railroad to make high-speed connections between the city and their town. They expanded their railroad holdings until by 1928 the Vans controlled 30,000 miles of rail worth $3 billion, nearly all of it purchased through credit. The centerpiece of the Van Sweringen empire was the Terminal Tower that controlled all the streetcars, rapid transit and interurban lines and included office space, hotel and retail space. Hundreds of buildings were taken down to build the complex. When the 708-foot Terminal Tower opened in 1928 it was the second tallest building in the world and it remained the tallest building outside New York City until 1964. The Depression crumpled the Van Sweringens and when they died in the 1930s the three billion dollars had been reduced to three thousand.
FOLLOW THE CURVE AND CROSS ONTARIO STREET.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
1999 Ontario Street in southeast quadrant of Public Square
Prominent Cleveland architect Levi Tucker Scofield had served in the Civil War so when Cuyahoga County decided to erect a monument to its Civil War veterans in the 1880s Scofield worked seven and half years without compensation and contributed over $57,000 to its cost. The centerpiece is a 125-foot black Quincy granite shaft erected on a square base of rough-hewn granite blocks trimmed in sandstone and housing a memorial building. Scofield also created the four memorial bronze groups that depict the branches of the Union Army - the Navy, Artillery, Cavalry and Infantry. Inside the memorial building the names of 9,000 Civil War veterans from Cuyahoga County are listed on marble tablets. The monument opened on July 4, 1894.
TURN RIGHT ON EUCLID AVENUE.
May Company Building
158 Euclid Avenue at Public Square
David May began his career peddling goods in the Leadville, Colorado silver boom of 1877. He was headquartered in Denver in 1899 when he began looking to expand back in established Eastern cities and in Cleveland he acquired the E.R. Hull & Dutton Co. Renamed the May Company, the department store moved into this gleaming white terra-cotta home in 1915. Originally six stories, two additional stories were added to the Neoclassical building as May Company became the largest department store in Ohio. May Company offered shoppers the first charge card in Cleveland and innovated such other amenities as air conditioning and a parking garage. The store was closed in 1993.
entrances at 401 Euclid Avenue and Superior Avenue
Indoor shopping centers had been around America since the 1820s when the first was constructed in Providence, Rhode Island but the form reached its apex in the 19th century with the Cleveland Arcade in 1890. Cleveland’s deepest pockets, including those of John D. Rockefeller, Steven V. Harkness, Louis Severance, Charles Brush and Marcus Hanna, picked up the $867,000 cost for the Arcade designed by Cleveland architects John M. Eisenmann and George H. Smith. The Richardsonian Romanesque style, marked by the yawning stone arched entrance, remains intact on the Superior Avenue side but this side has endured a 1939 Art Deco modification. Inside, the five-story iron-and-glass Arcade is one of Cleveland’s grandest interior spaces. The Arcade was the first building in Cleveland and the ninth in the country to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Guardian Building
629 Euclid Avenue
The first fourteen stories of this heritage skyscraper were erected in 1896 and it was one of the tallest buildings in America. Known as the New England Building, it was the tallest building in Cleveland until 1922. The tower sprung from the pen of Boston architects Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge that was the successor firm to Henry Hobson Richardson, the most influential United States architect after the Civil War. During a classical remodeling by local architects Walker and Weeks in 1915 two more stories were added. After starting life as a bank office building the former Sky King has been renovated as a hotel.
The City Club Building
850 Euclid Avenue
The City Club of Cleveland formed in 1912 to promote free and open discussions on the social, political and economic issues of the day; it is considered the country’s oldest public speech forum. Its Friday Forums, broadcast each week on the national radio and, later, local television, featured presentations by the county’s most interesting thinkers. In 1982 the City Club moved into this 13-story Beaux Arts skyscraper that was raised in 1903. Known as the Citizens Building, this was an early project of W. Dominick Benes and Benjamin S. Hubbell who developed into one of the town’s leading architectural firms noted for their classical designs.
2000 East 9th Street at southwest corner of Euclid Avenue
This heritage skyscraper carries the name of the architect, Levi Tucker Scofield. Scofield, best known for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, was born in Cleveland in 1842 and sixty years later created this tower where he had grown up when his family operated the Prospect Place Hotel here. Somewhere in that journey Scofield jettisoned the “H” from his surname. Like many of Cleveland’s historic skyscrapers the Scofield Building was covered with “modernizing” fiberglass that has mercifully been removed in a recent facelift.
northwest corner of East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue
National City Bank took its first deposits in 1845. By 1980 the bank boasted 111 offices across Ohio and controlled $4 billion in assets when the directors constructed this new headquarters. Sheathed in white travertine marble, the tower is not constructed of steel but raised with reinforced concrete. It is the tallest such structure in Cleveland.
Huntington Bank Building
925 Euclid Avenue at northeast corner of 9th Street
This was the largest office building in Cleveland when it was completed for the Union Trust Bank in 1924 and only one other building had more floor space (30 acres). Its three-story, L-shaped banking lobby was bigger than any depositor had ever seen and it remains one of the world’s most spacious. The lobby features enormous marble Corinthian columns, barrel vaulted ceilings, and colorful paintings by Chicago muralist Jules Guerin. The price tag was $17 million.
Cleveland Trust Building
southeast corner of Euclid Avenue and 9th Street
Cleveland Trust was founded in 1894 with $500,000 in capital and John G.W. Cowles at the helm. By 1924 only five banks in America were larger. Constructed in 1905 and opened in 1908, the rotunda building of this Beaux Arts vault is an immense stained-glass dome above the main banking floor. The design is from George B. Post and Sons, New York architects who left an imprint on the Cleveland streetscape with many buildings in the early 20th century.
Statler Office Tower
1127 Euclid Avenue
Ellsworth Milton Statler was born in Gettysburg only months after Union forces repelled Robert E. Lee’s invading Confederate army in 1863. He began a career in the hotel business with a vision to provide luxury accommodations of the first order. He built his his first permanent Statler Hotel in 1907, in Buffalo, New York as the first major hotel to have a private bath or shower and running water in every room. In 1912 Statler came to Cleveland to open his second hotel and launch one of America’s earliest hotel chains with George C. Post designing the most luxurious hotel in town. At the time of its opening, outside of New York City, there was only one other American hotel, besides the Statler, with more than 1,000 rooms. In 1954 Conrad Hilton bought the Hotels Statler Company for $111 million in the largest real estate transaction in history to that point. The Cleveland hotel was considered one of the finest of the Statlers and the new owners poured more than three million dollars into renovations but sold the property a dozen years later. After doing time as an office building in 2001 the building was converted into a 295-unit apartment building, known as The Statler Arms.
1211 Euclid Avenue
The Union Club organized in 1872 with the town’s most dynamic political and civic leaders among its 81 charter members. In the early years the parlors and dining rooms of banker and financier Truman P. Handy’s mansion were sufficient to handle club activities but by 1900 the membership had grown to 500. The club hired Cleveland’s most accomplished architect, Charles Schweinfurth, to build a new clubhouse. The Club moved into Schweinfurth’s Italian Renaissance creation, crafted of Berea sandstone, in 1905. Over the years the membership roster of Cleveland’s premier private club has include five United States Presidents, more than a dozen members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and Presidential Cabinet appointees.
1422 Euclid Avenue at southeast corner of 14th Street
Marcus Alonzo Hanna graduated from his father’s wholesale grocery business to become a leading iron and coal merchant in Ohio. But his real love was politics. Hanna was elected to the Cleveland Board of Education in 1869 at the age of 32 and eventually wound up in the United States Senate. Hanna was a Republican kingmaker from the the state level to the national level as he was instrumental in getting Ohio governor William McKinley elected President in 1896 and 1900. Hanna died in 1904. His son Daniel took over the business and bought the Cleveland News and Sunday News-Leader as well. Daniel constructed this 16-story Beaux Arts corner building as a memorial to his father in 1921.
1422, 1501, 1515, 1621 Euclid Avenue
Taken together these four theaters - the Allen, Ohio, State and Palace - comprise the second largest performing arts center in the United States with nearly 10,000 seats. All four were constructed within 19 months in the 1920s. America’s most accomplished theater architect, Thomas W. Lamb, designed the Ohio and State in an Italianate style. Although both front Euclid Avenue the State is built at the back of the lot creating one of the world’s largest theater lobbies. Architect C. Howard Crane delivered an Italian Renaissance flavored theater for Jules and Jay Allen in the Buckley Building at the west end. The Rapp brothers, Cornelius and George, who populated Chicago with some of its most ornate theaters, contributed The Palace to Euclid Avenue that began as the regional flagship of the Keith-Albee chain of vaudeville theaters in 1922. The Playhouse Square Foundation organized to restore the historic stages and in 1999 also added the Hanna Theatre that opened in the nearby Hanna Building in 1921 to the troupe.
1621 Euclid Avenue
Edward Franklin Albee and Benjamin Franklin Keith joined forces in 1885 to open the Boston Bijou Theatre which became the foundation for one of the country’s largest vaudeville chains. When this Beaux Arts skyscraper was constructed in 1922 for the chain’s Palace Theatre it was the tallest building in Cleveland.
TURN RIGHT ON 17TH STREET. TURN RIGHT ON PROSPECT AVENUE. AFTER CROSSING 14TH STREET, BEAR LEFT ON BOLIVAR ROAD.
1234 Bolivar Road
The Grays Militia was organized in 1837 as the City Guard unit and were the first Cleveland group to fight in the Civil War. After the City Armory suffered fire damage in 1892 the Grays built their own facility here. The Richardsonian Romanesque-styled building blends red brick and Berea sandstone and boasts bold entrance arches and window hoods. The main entry arch rests on top of polished granite columns that rise from each cornerstone. The Armory includes a drill hall that was the site of the Cleveland Orchestra’s first performance in 1918.
TURN LEFT ON 9TH STREET.
Erie Street Cemetery
9th Street between Erie Court and Sumner Avenue
The town’s second oldest cemetery was founded in 1826 to replace the informal burying ground just south of Public Square. At the time these grounds were so far from the town that they doubled as a gunpowder storage facility. Behind the Gothic entrance are the graves of some 17,000 Clevelanders including some mayors, the Carters who were the first settlers, and Indian chiefs.
TURN RIGHT ON CARNEGIE AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON ONTARIO STREET.
2401 Ontario Street
The Cleveland Indians moved from cavernous Municipal Stadium into fan-friendly Jacobs Field, named for former team owner Richard Jacobs, in 1994. Among its distinct features are its vertical light towers which can be seen in the plaza next door.
STOP IN THE PLAZA AND LOOK PAST THE VERTICAL LIGHT TOWERS TO SEE...
Ohio Bell Building
750 Huron Road
The Bell Telephone Company embraced the Art Deco style for its buildings across the country in the 1920s. For the corporate headquarters of Ohio Bell the firm of Hubbell and Benes infused a Gothic flavor into the 24-story tower in 1927. The top stories feature setbacks that were introduced a few years earlier by Eliel Saarinen with his losing entry for the design contest for the Tribune Tower in Chicago.
Quicken Loans Arena
1 Center Court
This was the site of the Central Market, where fruits and vegetables were peddled as far back as 1856. The multi-purpose sports and event arena opened in 1994, christened with a concert by Billy Joel.
101 Prospect Avenue at Ontario Street
Do you find painting a distasteful chore? Imagine if you had to mix the pigment and linseed oil and whatever else you need to make your own paint before you started. Until Sherwin-Williams marketed ready-made paint in 1875 that was what the homeowner had to do. Henry Sherwin started his business career in Cleveland as a bookkeeper for a wholesale paint company in 1866. When the firm decided to concentrate on linseed oil, Sherwin ponied up $2,000 with partner Edward Williams to buy the retail paint business. Nearly 150 years later it is a $5 billion business. Much of that time the headquarters has been here in a massive Art Deco office complex constructed in 1930.
CONTINUE PAST THE SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT ACROSS SUPERIOR AVENUE INTO PUBLIC SQUARE.
Old Stone Church
91 Public Square at northwest corner of Ontario Street
In 1819 fifteen of Cleveland’s 150 people gathered for Presbyterian services on this location. In 1834 the congregation constructed their first meetinghouse of gray sandstone. That church was demolished in 1853 to make room for this Romanesque Revival building that was designed by architects Charles Heard and Simeon Porter. The Berea sandstone church is the oldest in downtown Cleveland, withstanding fire and storms and surviving without modification save for a replacement of the steeple.
Society for Savings Building
127 Public Square at northeast corner of Ontario Street
Sitting on the open Public Square gives one of the most historic 19th century buildings in Cleveland a proper setting of prominence. One of the pioneering architects of the modern skyscraper, John Wellborn Root, took the train from Chicago to design the first “modern” skyscraper in state of Ohio. Constructed for the Society for Savings, Root blended the Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance architectural styles for the 152-foot high commercial building. Faced in red sandstone, “Ohio’s Skyscraper” was completed in 1889 and was the town’s tallest building until 1896.
TURN RIGHT ON PUBLIC SQUARE IN FRONT OF THE SOCIETY FOR SAVINGS BUILDING.
127 Public Square
This is the tallest building in Cleveland by almost 250 feet. The 947-foot tower was constructed in 1991 for Society Bank on plans drawn by Argentine architect César Pelli, known for designing some of the world’s most impressive skyscrapers.
TURN RIGHT IN FRONT OF KEY TOWER AND WALK TOWARDS THE SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT, STOPPING AT SUPERIOR AVENUE.
200 Public Square
200 Public Square
Standard Oil of Ohio planned this tower to be the highest building in Cleveland in the 1980s but city officials nixed the idea of having it eclipse its landmark neighbor, the Terminal Tower. A few years later the key Tower soared past them both and the one-time BP Tower is now the city’s third tallest structure. The oil companies have all left the building since the late 1990s.
TURN LEFT ON SUPERIOR AVENUE.
Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse
201 Superior Avenue
This five-story granite government temple kicked off the “City Beautiful” movement in Cleveland in 1903 that populated America with grand classically-flavored buildings. This courthouse and one-time post office was modeled on the largest public square in Paris and boasts 42-foot high Cornithian columns and pilasters on each side. At the main entrance granite steps lead to three rusticated stone arches and the front is flanked by allegorical sculptures by Daniel Chester French, best known for his creation of the sitting figure of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. One represents jurisprudence and the other commerce. The building was completed in 1910.
Cleveland Public Library
325 Superior Avenue
The first books were checked out in Cleveland in 1869. This Renaissance Revival book depository came along in 1925, a mirror image of the Federal Building across the way. Cleveland architects Frank Ray Walter and Harry F. Weeks, who were best known for their bank work, won the commission to design the library that was headed by Linda Anne Eastman at the point, the first woman to head a major American library. The cylindrical structure is a 1990s addition - the two buildings are connected by an underground corridor above which is a Reading Garden that honors Eastman. You can see the other entrance to the Cleveland Arcade (wide stone arch) across from the library.
TURN LEFT ON WELLS STREET. TURN LEFT ON 2ND STREET AND RETURN TO WISCONSIN AVENUE AND TURN RIGHT.
The Leader Building
526 Superior Avenue
The Cleveland Leader put out its first edition in 1854 after publisher Edwin Cowles merged two earlier papers. The Leader, which became Ohio’s leading Republican mouthpiece, and its sister publication, the Evening News, were the town’s dominant news source until Cowles died in 1890. After that the Leader stumbled, losing ground to the Plain-Dealer. In 1912 Daniel Hanna purchased the Leader and the Evening News and built this 14-story Neoclassical headquarters but the Leader was sold to the Plain Dealer five years later.
Federal Reserve Bank
1455 East 6th Street
One of the country’s twelve regional Federal Reserve banks, its 91-ton vault door is the largest in the world with the largest hinge ever constructed. The hinge itself weighs an additional 86,000 pounds. The building’s Italian Renaissance design was provided by Frank Ray Walter and Harry F. Weeks and completed in 1923 with a pink granite exterior and copious amounts of marble inside. At the entrance stand sculptures representing Security and Integrity by New York sculptor Henry Hering. His Energy graces the Superior Avenue entry. The works were his first major public commissions.
TURN LEFT ON 9TH STREET.
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
1007 Superior Avenue East at northeast corner of 9th Street
Pope Pius IX established the Catholic Dicocese of Cleveland and the go-to architect of the Catholic Church, Patrick Kelley, designed the core of this building in 1852. Kelley designed every Catholic church in New England for decades, typically in a Gothic style similar to that seen here. Over the years the building has been extensively expanded and changed.
TURN LEFT ON ROCKWELL AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON EAST 6TH STREET.
Cleveland Board of Education Building
1380 East 6th Street
The last of the buildings to populate the Cleveland Mall, this Beaux Arts confection with elements of the Italian Renaissance was completed in 1931. Architects Frank Ray Walter and Harry F. Weeks designed the six-story beefy structure with three symmetrical wings. The statue of Abraham Lincoln out front was paid for with pennies collected by schoolchildren.
500 Lakeside Avenue at East 6th Street
Since it opened in 1922 Cleveland’s convention center has hosted concerts, sporting events and a couple of Republican National Conventions among hundreds of other gatherings. When it was built, on Neoclassical plans drawn by city architect J. Harold McDowell and Frank Walker it was the largest hall of its kind and made Cleveland a leading convention center.
AT THE END OF EAST 6TH STREET, DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF YOU, IS...
Cleveland City Hall
601 Lakeside Avenue
This handsome Beaux Arts edifice is a long way from the log cabin the town government first convened in back in 1803. In 1895 a grand Beaux Arts structure was planned for the two northern quadrants of Public Square with an elliptical arch across Ontario Street but outraged protests closed down the project after a only a week. Twenty years later a new city hall finally arrived from the pen of classically trained local architect J. Milton Dyer. Faced in Vermont granite, the rusticated ground floor is arcaded and a portico fronted by a Tuscan colonnade. The $3 million building was dedicated on July 4, 1916; it has been recognized as one of America’s 49 outstanding City Halls by the American Institute of Architects.
TURN LEFT ON LAKESIDE AVENUE.
Lakeside Avenue to Superior Avenue
At the turn of the 20th century American cities were gripped in the City Beautiful movement that was transforming deteriorating areas into landscaped civic spaces. Cleveland’s plan was the T-shaped Cleveland Mall, instituted in 1903. As drawn up by Daniel Burnham, John Carrère, and Arnold Brunner the multi-block Mall was intended to be flanked by civic and governmental buildings. Most of the ambitious City Beautiful plans in America fell far short of realization and Cleveland’s also was never fully carried out but today it is one of the country’s most complete examples. A key element of the City Beautiful ethos was landscaped open spaces and public art. The most prominent art on the Cleveland Mall didn’t come until 1968 when the Fountain of Eternal Life by Marshall Fredericks was installed.
Cuyahoga County Courthouse
1 Lakeside Avenue at Ontario Street
After Cuyahoga County was created in 1807 there were five buildings to serve as courthouse in the first 100 years but there hasn’t been a sixth in the last 100 years. Constructed between 1906 and 1912 the Beaux Arts structure sits on a rusticated base of Milford pink granite shipped in from Massachusetts. The protruding central portico is highlighted by an order of Ionic columns and decorated with statues of historic lawmakers. The seated bronze figures, eternally on opposite sides, are Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Above the cornice are marble figures of influential English politicians.
Fort Huntington Park
northeast corner of Lakeside Avenue and 3rd Street
The nascent Army of the Northwest established a blockhouse and supply depot on this site during the War of 1812, named for Ohio governor Samuel Huntington. Later a stockade and hospital were added. No action occurred at the fort but Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry stopped here on the way to successfully engage the British in the Battle of Lake Victory and returned to celebrate. The statue of Perry was Ohio’s first public monument, executed by William Walcutt in 1860. It originally stood in Public Square but was moved here after the old military site was rededicated as a park in 1977.
LOOK BEYOND THE PARK TO SEE...
Cleveland Browns Stadium
100 Alfred Lerner Way
The world’s largest outdoor arena was constructed here in 1931 with seating for 78,189. It cost $2.5 million to construct Cleveland Municipal Stadium and 65 years later it cost $2.9 million to tear it down. After owner Art Modell moved the original Cleveland Browns franchise to Baltimore to become the Ravens in 1996 this new stadium was built as part of the agreement to land the city’s new expansion NFL franchise. the estimated cost was $243 million. Completed in 1999, Cleveland Browns Stadium occupies 17 acres and stands 12 stories tall.
1220 West 6th Street at Lakeside Avenue
Alva Bradley was born in Ellington, Connecticut but in 1823 his father moved the family farm from the rocky Constitution State soil to Lorain County. Bradley left the farm when he was 19 to sign on as a deck hand on the Liberty, a 50-ton schooner. He rose to captain and then came onshore and began building ships. At the time of his death, Alva Bradley was said to be the largest individual shipowner in the Great Lakes. He also dabbled in real estate and commissioned the construction of this exuberant Romanesque-flavored office building in 1883 but did not live to see its completion. The building was first used by the garment industry and later as a printing and typography center until the late 1960s. It has since been renovated for both commercial and residential use.
TURN LEFT ON LEFT ON WEST 6TH STREET. TURN LEFT ON ST. CLAIR AVENUE.
Grand Arcade Building
401 St. Clair Street at northwest corner of 4th Street
This commercial building was constructed by William Scofield in 1883 and was the tallest in Cleveland at the time. Scofield was an early Cleveland oil magnate who got trampled by John D. Rockefeller. One of Scofield’s partner’s, Isaac L. Hewitt, was the first man to hire Rockefeller which the titan of capitalism recalled fondly. But John D. despised another partner, John H. Alexander, who still treated him, Rockefeller believed, like an office clerk. When Rockefeller bought up 22 of his 26 Cleveland competitors in a short period in 1872 he made Alexander, Scofield and Company feel lucky to get the $65,000 he was offering for a firm the partners valued at $150,000. Scofield was also in business with a Rockefeller but it was John’s younger brother Frank, who married a Scofield daughter, Helen. Their Pioneer Oil Works was quickly swallowed by Standard Oil. The younger Rockefeller was constantly in bankruptcy and bitter about his brother’s wealth that bailed him out time and again. When Franklin Rockefeller died in 1917 he chose to be buried outside the Rockefeller family plot.
TURN AND RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO 6TH STREET. AT THE INTERSECTION TO YOUR LEFT IS...
Johnson Block/Burgess Building
West 6th Street between St. Clair Avenue and Frankfort Avenue
This commercial block provides a glimpse at the mid-19th century Cleveland streetscape with Greek Revival and Italianate masonry buildings. All the buildings have been renovated and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
CROSS 6TH STREET AND CONTINE ON ST. CLAIR AVENUE.
700 West St. Clair Street at northwest corner of 6th Street
James Madison Hoyt was born and educated in upstate New York but began his law career in Cleveland in 1837. He cultivated a reputation for scrupulous honesty, which he applied to real estate development beginning in the 1850s. Hoyt developed some 1,000 acres of land in and around the city. He is credited with opening and naming over 100 Cleveland streets. This four-story Italian Renaissance-flavored structure in the heart of the Warehouse District was built between 1874 and 1876 and boasted one of the town’s first hydraulic elevators.
850 West St. Clair Avenue
The Warehouse District has its roots as Cleveland’s first neighborhood and downtown’s oldest commercial center. With more than 70 original buildings showcasing classic Victorian architecture, the Warehouse District was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1982. Many of the buildings have been renovated for residential use and the ornate brick structure from 1888 was one of the first.
AT THE END OF ST. CLAIR AVENUE CROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS AND TURN LEFT ONTO THE WALKWAY IN SETTLER’S LANDING PARK TO RETURN TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT.