Cleveland September 27, 2019
These 10 Retro Photos Show How Cleveland’s Most Iconic Landmarks Have Changed Since 1895
A lot has changed since Moses Cleaveland first set foot in what would become Cleveland. The Forest City still remains a vibrant and lovely landscape, even though it has grown into an urban hub of activity. All sorts of unique features and iconic landmarks dot the skyline, and, believe it or not, many of these destinations have been here a long time. They’ve changed remarkably little over the years. How many of these old school Cleveland landmarks do you recognize?
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Cleveland Arcade, 1895
Cleveland's Old Arcade has an atmosphere that's straight out of Milan, Italy. This gorgeous Romanesque-inspired structure was opened to the public in 1890, and it was just as much a marvel then as it is now. Its construction was funded by wealthy Clevelanders like John D. Rockefeller, which allowed it to features the most impressive architectural advancements of the era. It has been renovated in the many years that have passed, but its original beauty must have enchanted the National Convention of Republican Clubs during their 1895 banquet.
2. Euclid Avenue between E. 14th and E. 17th, 1914
This landscape looks rather different today, as this little stretch of road is now one of Cleveland's most iconic districts. Nowadays, this district is exactly where you'd go if you want to view the
largest outdoor chandelier in the world
. That's right - this stretch of street became known as Playhouse Square within the decade after this image was taken. Its first two theaters opened in February of 1921, and its remaining theaters opened shortly thereafter.
3. Erie Street Cemetery, 1921
Erie Street Cemetery has long been the site of local legends, as it houses some of the area's most prominent and notorious early settlers. It's also the oldest existing cemetery in the city - when it was established in 1826, it was at the edge of the city. The city grew, however, and it encompassed and surrounded this cemetery. So much so, in fact, that The Pioneers' Memorial Association was formed to advocate for its preservation. Its future was still somewhat uncertain in 1921, as developers and city planners had their eyes on this prime piece of real estate. Bodies were even removed at one time to make way for city streets; however, the city management chose to build around this local landmark in 1925, securing its future and proving its importance as a piece of Cleveland history.
4. Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Public Square, 1924
Even surrounded by the rubble of the Terminal Tower construction, the 1894 Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument is striking. It was designed and adorned with sculptures crafted by Levi Scofield, a Cleveland native and Civil War veteran. (Scofield, sometimes spelled Schofield, also famously designed the Mansfield Reformatory.) The monument, whose sculptures are among the first to feature black and white soldiers fighting side by side, lists the name of some 9,000 local Civil War veterans. Despite this, it was discovered that the names of 140 black soldiers were excluded from the monument in later research. Following nearly 20 years of work verifying the legacy of these veterans, the names were rightfully added to the monument in 2019.
5. The proud (and unfinished) Terminal Tower, 1928
At 52 stories tall, the stunning Terminal Tower continues to wow visitors. However, at the time of its construction, it was the second tallest building in the entire world. It remained the tallest building outside of New York for decades, and it was the tallest structure in the state until Key Tower was constructed. When this photo was snapped, the tower was open to tenants... though construction wouldn't be completed until 1930. Interestingly, the building was originally intended to be only 14 stories. It was found upon its completion that visitors on its higher floors can see the landscape stretch for roughly 30 miles on a clear day! This fact made its external lighting valuable in its early days, as it helped guide airplanes and ships alike in their navigation to the city.
6. The Guardians of Traffic keeping an eye on the city, 1939
The Lorain–Carnegie Bridge, now known as the Hope Memorial Bridge, is a gorgeous monument to Art Deco architecture. Constructed in 1932 for the equivalent of over $87 million in modern currency, this bridge is tall enough for ships to pass under yet sturdy enough to support the weight of traffic and a few larger-than-life statues. These 43-foot pillars are beloved by locals nowadays, but they were not always so cherished. In fact, their very existence was threatened in the 1970s when their locally-sourced sandstone had been dirtied by the era's pollution. The city decided to keep them, of course. Today, the statues are as clean as they were in this image taken just a few years after the bridge's completion.
7. The Italian Cultural Garden under construction, 1940
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens have a
that dates back to 1916. In that year, the garden that would become known as the British Cultural Garden opened to the public. Now, there are more than 30 gardens. The Italian Cultural Garden (shown above) was one of the earliest to open, though it took 11 years before the garden was completed and was dedicated on September 14, 1941. Its landscape was conceived in the grand spirit of the Renaissance and was inspired from the very moment it was envisioned.
8. The Old Stone Church gets a makeover, 1961
The Old Stone Church is made memorable by its steeple... which, you may have noticed, is not adorning the sandstone church in this image. It was originally featured on the church when it was completed in 1855, but it was lost in a fire in 1857. The current steeple was recreated and added in 1999 as one of a series of renovations, one of which was in progress when this image was taken. In 1961, construction had just begun on the church's new Parish House. The endeavor was completed in 1964.
9. Wade Memorial Chapel in Lake View Cemetery, 1973
Is there a cemetery anywhere in the state as grand and iconic as Lake View Cemetery? This lovely landscape is more of a peaceful garden than a place of mourning, and it includes some spectacular marvels. Wade Memorial Chapel is a Neoclassical-style structure that was constructed in 1901 in memoriam of Jeptha Wade. Its incredible interior was designed by
Louis Comfort Tiffany
, and it is a breathtaking visual journey into the afterlife. This lovely local landmark was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the very year that this image was taken, and it's no wonder why. Its beauty is undeniable even to this day!
10. Otto Moser's Bar on East 4th Street, 1976
If you lived in Cleveland prior to 1994, you surely remember Otto Moser's when it operated in its original location on East 4th Street. This long-standing restaurant opened its doors in 1893 in what was, at the time, Cleveland's theater district. While East 4th Street certainly looks different today, it has the same charm at its core.
These incredible Cleveland landmarks are overflowing with incredible history. How many of these familiar places did you recognize?
If you can’t get enough of local history, worry not! Our journey into the past continues in these
12 images of Cleveland from yesteryear.