Sunday, March 14, 2010

Terminal Tower

Photo by Margaret Bourke-White

Terminal Tower. Municipal Stadium. Public Square.

New slogan: Cleveland. It's Obvious.

Completed in 1930, the Terminal Tower was the tallest building outside New York City in 1936. It was built by the Van Sweringen brothers to serve as an office building atop Union Terminal. "The Vans" also owned the rail ... and the land at the far end of the rail system in Shaker Heights. "Work here in our building during the day, and take our train out to our homes away from the city at night."

The Van Swerigens ruined Cleveland. Still, that's our building.
Terminal Tower facts
- Construction began in 1926.
- Dedicated in 1930.
- 52 floors, 708 feet (216 m) tall.
- Tallest building outside of New York City until 1967.
- There is a 63-foot (19-m) flagpole at the top, taking it to 771 feet (235 m).
- More than 1,000 buildings were taken down to build the Tower Complex.
- Several streets were eliminated and others were built during the development of the complex.
- 2.5 million cubic yards (1,900,000 m³) of material was removed from the tower site, making it the second largest excavation project in the world at that time. (Wikipedia)
Oris (O.P.) Van Sweringen died in November 22, 1936. Mantis (M.J.) the year before. Their fortune was valued at $3 billion in 1929 ... and considerably less shortly thereafter. Oris is reported to have had around $300,000 to his name at the time of his death.

Trawling the Internet for colorful language about the Terminal Tower, I found this tasty, torso-related paragraph ...
This was the ugliest part of the city, filthy from the black soot of the coal fires, overpowering in its sulfurous stench, and strewn with trash and industrial waste. Almost symbolically here, too, was the dumping place for the city's human refuse, the thousands of men who once lived in rural Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana, made homeless by the Depression. This inexhaustible supply of unwanted labor, "hobos" as they were called, rode the freight trains into Cleveland, looking for nonexistent jobs in the mills. There in back of the splendid Terminal Tower, the hobos camped in squalid, corrugated metal shacks, creating a city of their own.
Other Sources:
The Design Rag

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