As we move closer to 2020, the Internet community is growing more enamored with the jazz and glamour that made the 1920s so iconic. Who can blame them?! When one thinks of the Roaring Twenties, images of entrancing jazz performances, bustling speakeasies, and flapper fashion comes to mind. Cleveland, of all places, is perhaps the last thing to come to mind. The 1920s was a magical decade in Cleveland, and these photos prove that it truly was the bee’s knees.
1920s Cleveland offered a little bit of everything.
In 1920, the city was home to 796,841 people—411,000 more than today! With such a large population, it is no surprise that the city was so busy.
Much like today, there was a lot of pride for local athletes.
In 1920, the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers and setting world records along the way. In game five, several notable moments took place. Cleveland say the only World Series triple play, as well as the first World Series grand slam and the first home run by a pitcher in a World Series game. Earlier that season, Ray Chapman became the first and only MLB player to die from being struck by a baseball. When The Tribe captivated the sports world and won the 1920 World Series, the team and players, including Steve O'Neill (pictured), stated that they had done so in his memory.
There was entertainment galore.
On this quiet day in April of 1921, Playhouse Square was still new, shiny, and glamorous. The Allen Theatre opened just three days prior to this photograph, and more than 3,080 people showed up hoping to experience opening night; many had to be turned away. It was originally built as a silent movie house, and it fascinated and enthralled locals with films like "The Greatest Love." So, too, did the Ohio Theatre with its Corinthian columns and colorful paintings, and the State Theatre, with its impressive murals and 320-foot lobby, which is said to be the longest in the world.
The local music scene was incredible.
The Allen Theatre featured a full orchestra, a talented group that performed concerts or short pieces between films. This photo, estimated to be from 1922, shows conductor Philip Spitalny, a man who would rise to fame and make a name for himself on CBS and NBC radio.
Clevelanders enjoyed an entrancing variety of natural and manmade beauty.
Cultural Gardens of Rockefeller Park
have long been a cherished Cleveland legacy. In 1916, the inaugural garden was dedicated to William Shakespeare. By the mid-1920s, this garden was verdant and dreamy- the perfect getaway from the crowded city.
If you thought Cleveland's quirkiness was a recent development, you're wrong.
Think a giant rubber stamp is weird? Apparently, Clevelanders have always considered bigger to be better, as demonstrated by this 1923 display in the window of the Hurst Pharmacy Company. Take note of the giant toothbrush cutouts surrounded by patriotic imagery. Weird.
Cleveland celebrated large strides toward equality.
On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Women were finally granted the right to vote. In response to this, the League of Women Voters of Cleveland was founded on April 26 by suffragists following the disbandment of the Woman's Suffrage Party of Greater Cleveland. The first president of this league was Belle Sherwin (pictured), who would go on to serve as the president of the national league from 1924 to 1934.
Thanks to the "skyscraper boom," Cleveland gained one very notable monument.
This $179 million dollar building was built atop the rail station, the ideal location for a 52-floor Beaux Art-style masterpiece. The Terminal Tower began renting to tenants in 1928, though construction would not be complete until 1930. From its completion until 1953, the Terminal Tower was celebrated as the tallest building in the world outside of New York City.
Cleveland's parks provided a fun and free way to spend the day.
Gordon Park opened to the public in 1893, much to the excitement of east siders, and remained a popular spot to relax throughout the decades. In summer, the beach was crowded with Clevelanders. Gardens and a pavilion, pictured here, provided a lovely space for locals to unwind.
The city offered many opportunities to get out of the house.
One could grab a bite to eat at the Busy Bee Restaurant, go shopping for shoes and clothes, and go sight seeing in Downtown Cleveland.
The 1920s were full of history-making moments.
In 1924, the Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland. It was the first national convention to give women equal representation, and Cleveland was honored to make history at their Public Auditorium. The convention formally nominated Calvin Coolidge for President.
Some of those memorable moments turned locals into celebrities.
Johnny Kilbane was born in Cleveland in 1889, and his journey would bring him to hold the World Featherweight title from 1912 to 1923. As the longest title holder in division history, this Cleveland native became quite the celebrity. Today, a statue of him stands in Cleveland's Battery Park to commemorate his legacy.
The 1920s left Cleveland overflowing with culture.
Pictured here, the West Technical High School Greenhouse blooms under the careful watch of horticulture students. With gardening, art, and music galore, the Roaring Twenties infused Cleveland with culture.
And, of course, no respectable 1920s city is complete without a bit of flapper fashion.
Elizabeth Baker is a well-known local figure that helped establish the Cleveland Girl Scout Council. Apparently, her sense of style was hotsy-totsy (how the kids used to say something was "on point").
Today, Cleveland remains a city devoted to the arts, and our charming theater district has maintained and expanded upon the glamour for which the Roaring Twenties is so iconic. History was made in this amazing era, and Cleveland was a great place to witness it.