- Education and Science»
The Terminal Tower: A Cleveland Landmark
As Cleveland continues to struggle with its identity and future, one landmark remains unchanged. Since its completion 80 years ago, the grand matriarch of the skyline, enthroned at the southwest corner of the city’s four-block ‘front lawn’ of Public Square, has been The Terminal Tower.
Originally dubbed Union Terminal (since it anchored the unified rail terminus at Cleveland’s core), the tower was conceived by the visionary brothers, Oris Paxton and Mantis James Van Sweringen, real estate developers who also created the Village of Shaker Heights, and designed by the firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White. The Van Sweringens were early forerunners of today’s mixed-use developers. By the end of its eight-year construction sequence, The Terminal Tower Complex became home not only to the city’s central rail station, but also to its largest hotel, one of its major department stores, a grand public lobby and hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space spread throughout four adjoining and interconnected buildings.
Erected to a height of 708 feet, The Terminal Tower in 1930 became the second-tallest building in the world. The diminishing floor sizes of its ‘wedding cake’ Beaux-Arts styling gave its uppermost floors panoramic views of the city below. For decades that view has been shared by the many visitors to the Tower’s upper floor observation deck (from which, on really clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of rickzworld).
In addition to its mixed-use makeup, The Terminal Tower lodged many ‘firsts’. It was one of the first and most significant ‘air-rights developments’ over existing rail lines and roadways. Its structural piers, bored to bedrock 250 feet below street level, were then the deepest ever driven. During its construction, rail service was maintained, streets were relocated, bridges were built, and many unique structural framing challenges were met by the complex 3-D geometry of its lower levels. It rightfully rivals such grand urban complexes as Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Station as an architectural and engineering marvel.
The Terminal Tower Complex has long been owned by Forest City Enterprises — one of the nation’s largest developers of office, retail and residential space — which has its headquarters in the Tower. Forest City undertook expansion and substantial renovation of the complex, renaming it Tower City Center, in 1988-1990. A second hotel was added, as was a grand retail concourse with expanded food service. Over the last several years, another major renovation has been underway, with all elevators being replaced and most of the fragile decorative stone exterior of the Tower’s cap being cleaned and repaired or replicated. Citizens can once again gaze on the grande dame of Cleveland architecture in all her restored glory.
- Cleveland's Public Square
What began as pasturage for early settlers livestock has evolved into the City of Clevelands relaxing public front lawn.
- Cleveland's Skyline
In the more than 210 years of its existence, the skyline of Cleveland has undergone continual change.
- Epworth-Euclid Church, Cleveland, Ohio
Epworth-Euclid Church, Cleveland, Ohio Approaching its 90th year of serving its congregation, the ‘Oil-Can’ Church, erected in 1928, regally presides over a key intersection in Cleveland’s east-side University Circle area. This modern...
- Tom L. Johnson Statue, Cleveland, Ohio
Tom L. Johnson Statue, Cleveland, Ohio Occupying a prominent position in the northwestern quadrant of Cleveland’s Public Square is the fine bronze statue of seated Tom L. Johnson, the city’s reformist Democratic Mayor from 1901 to 1909. Born in...
- Marcel Breuer's Ameritrust Tower, Cleveland, Ohio
Ameritrust Tower, Cleveland, Ohio The city of Cleveland will likely lose the former Ameritrust bank headquarters tower designed in the Brutalist style by renowned architect Marcel Breuer. The 29-story shaft of black granite, with its distinctive...
- The May Company, Cleveland, Ohio
The May Company Building, Cleveland, Ohio The May Company central downtown department store building, facing the southeastern quadrant of Cleveland’s Public Square has for nearly a century presented a unique façade within the city skyline. The...
- Cleveland's Justice Center
Cleveland's Justice CenterOntario Street & Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio Lakeside Ave E & Ontario St, Cleveland, OH 44113, USA The City of Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Justice Center is a substantial development in neo-Brutalist...
- Shaker Heights, Ohio
Such luminaries as Paul Newman, James Frey, Roger Penske, Fred Willard, Molly Shannon, Jim Brickman, Greg Pruitt, Jr., and even, supposedly, the Beavers dad, Ward Cleaver.