It is hard to imagine the wonder locals must have felt as they witnessed Cleveland’s initial growth into a big city. Today, Clevelanders are accustomed to seeing a skyline dotted with skyscrapers and unique architectural elements, but once upon a time, our city was devoid of such modern wonders. The most spectacular building in Cleveland’s early days was the Terminal Tower, a skyscraper that still leaves locals in awe today.
1. Public Square in 1926.
The Terminal Tower was originally intended to be a mere 14 stories, but was expanded to an astounding 52 stories. At the time of its completion, the Terminal Tower was the second tallest building in the world.
2. The men who built the tower, 1926.
The Terminal Tower now stands an impressive 708 feet, truly brushing against the sky and clouds. It was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City until 1953, a feat that must have simultaneously impressed and humbled Clevelanders.
3. A glimpse into the skyscraper's inner structure, 1927.
The tower cost an amazing $179 million to construct, but the structure of the building was well worth it. To this day, visitors can see out for 30 miles from its observation deck on clear days.
4. Rail cars departing the terminal's construction site, 1926.
This train pulled rail cars into and away from the construction site, offering curious locals a glimpse into the building that would soon grace Public Square.
5. An easterly view of a young building, 1928.
Though the complex was not dedicated until 1930, it opened to tenants in 1928.
6. Excavation work preparing the soon-to-be construction site, 1924.
The building that would soon replace the dirt and rubble would one day be rather famous. It has made appearances on the big screen in classics like
A Christmas Story and The Deer Hunter, and you can even spot it in Spider Man 3 and The Avengers.
7. A power shovel prepares the site for construction work, 1924.
The Terminal Tower was inspired by the architecture of the Manhattan Municipal Building, a Beaux Arts complex that was completed one decade before this photo was snapped. It is incredible to imagine the curiosity and excitement onlookers experienced as they watched this work take place.
8. A bustling work site, 1925.
When the tower was finally dedicated in 1930, it was topped with a strobe light that was a landmark to those in the skies over Cleveland and on the waters of Lake Erie.
9. The tower from the Cuyahoga River, 1928.
The massive complex that intrigued Jazz Age Clevelanders would boast an impressive 577,000 square feet in total floor space upon its completion. Today, there are discussions of using that space for residential use as well as commercial.
10. The steel skeleton of Cleveland's most enchanting skyscraper, 1926.
When the building was completed, the Terminal Tower centralized Cleveland's railway service. This was not originally part of the building's plans. Its architects dreamed of Public Square as the bustling center of the city, which encouraged officials to change the designated site for the terminal from the Mall to its current site.
11. A city within a city, 1926.
The architects of this structure were described as "shy," and though they were involved throughout construction, they did not attend the building's dedication.
12. An incredibly busy construction site, 1926.
Originally called the Cleveland Union Terminal, this tower would become an integral piece of Cleveland life for many workers. It only ceased operations as a passenger station when competition from buses and airline service made traveling more efficient.
13. Southern excavation work, 1925.
Over the years, the skyscraper built at this site has served many purposes. Today, it has been renovated as a shopping center whose beauty is legendary.
14. Topping a tower, 1927.
The highest pieces of steel on the Terminal Tower brought it to a stunning 708 feet, a height only expanded by the structure's proud flagpole. With its flagpole, the massive structure is an awe-inspiring 771 feet tall.
Cleveland has a history that is mesmerizing and impressive. What is your fondest memory of the Terminal Tower? Tell us in the comments!
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