This tour explores downtown’s most important street: Euclid Avenue. Your starting point for this experience is the southeast corner of Public Square, just past the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Then our route turns east on Euclid Avenue. Walk on the sidewalk on the north (left) side of the street until you reach the East 17th Street, just past the Palace Theater. Then cross to the south (right) side of the street and return west to your point of origin. The sites along the Avenue are arranged so that you’re looking across the street at each. The tour lasts roughly 90 minutes.
Named after Dr. Henry Kirke Cushing, who demolished his home on this site and created this four story commercial building in 1874, the Cushing Building was used as a medical office building until 1893. Cushing’s son, Harvey Cushing, is often called America’s first neurosurgeon because of his lifesaving advances in the field’s early development. After 1893, the Cushing Building was used by different retail businesses before becoming vacant in 1997. The building was purchased for luxury loft apartments and ground-floor retail, opening in 2003.
The Lerner Building, named after the Lerner Shops, a women’s clothing store that occupied the building from 1936-1951. When the shops closed they were replaced by Petrie’s Women’s Clothing Store, which operated at the Lerner Building up until 1996. Today it stands as a rare example of Art Deco architecture in contrast to the other architectural styles along Euclid.
East 4th Street, spanning a single block between Euclid and Prospect Avenues, was first part of a theater district in the early 20th century. Today it is once again a thriving downtown entertainment district that benefits from its proximity to the Gateway professional sports venues.
More than a century before it hosted ten-pin bowling matches, the southeast corner of Euclid Avenue and East 4th Street (then called Sheriff Street) offered operatic entertainment. Indeed, the Euclid Avenue Opera House, which opened on September 6, 1875, stood at the heart of what was at the time Cleveland’s theater district.
Most people know about “The Arcade” in Cleveland. Some might be surprised, however, to find out that Downtown actually has two more of these incredible structures. Lying parallel to each other, The Colonial (1898) and Euclid (1911) Arcades run between Euclid and Prospect Avenues. Restyled as the 5th Street Arcades, the old Euclid and Colonial Arcades have brought back a range of distinctive shops and eateries that contribute to downtown’s revival.
William Taylor Son & Co. was once one of six major department stores in downtown Cleveland. Taylor, a devout Presbyterian, drew curtains to hide the store’s display windows on Sundays and refrained from placing Sunday ads in the daily newspapers. The store operated in this building from 1907 until it closed in 1961. In 1964 it became the 666 Euclid Building. The address change, from 630 to 666, was likely intended to sound catchy, but in time it come to be seen as a liability. Today it houses the Residences at 668.
Euclid Avenue’s massive Hippodrome Theater opened in 1907 with seating for 3,548 and the world’s second largest stage. It lasted until 1981 as a movie theater with an astounding 4,000 seats (the nation’s largest) before falling to the wrecking ball.
Chef Boyardee, the packaged food brand, was born in Cleveland. But before that, its namesake, Hector Boiardi, was born in northern Italy. After he arrived in Cleveland in 1917, he became the chef of the Winton Hotel. He went on to operate his own restaurants, including this one that once attracted patrons to an alley off East 8th Street between Euclid and Prospect Avenues.
Founded in 1912, the City Club has long been known as “Cleveland’s Citadel of Free Speech.” As the oldest, continuous free speech forum in the US, the City Club has always encouraged a nonpartisan, open exchange of ideas relating to the key issues of the day.
The Schofield Building was completed in 1902. After 67 years it was modernized with a new facade. Using preservation tax credits, the current owner restored the building’s historic appearance as part of a conversion to a hotel and apartments.
George Browne Post, who had previously designed the home of the New York Stock Exchange, designed the Cleveland Trust Company Building. Completed in 1908, it remained a banking cornerstone for 88 years. The interior of the bank is well-known for its rotunda crowned by an ornate stained-glass dome, now a popular gathering spot in Heinen’s Downtown Cleveland store.
The Cleveland Athletic Club was a long-time landmark in the cultural life of Cleveland. The venerable institution saw many well-known members and impressive feats of athletics from its opening in 1911. Following a complete renovation and conversion to apartments, it is known today as the Athlon.
The Halle Building served as the home for Halle Bros. department store for almost 75 years. Designed by architect Henry Bacon, who later the plans for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, the white terra-cotta faced Halle Building soon saw a mirror-opposite addition rise on its west flank to support the department store’s rapid expansion. If you look closely at the center of the building, you can see the vertical seam that defines the two buildings, now one.
US Bank Plaza, formerly known as Star Plaza, forms a focal point for the Playhouse Square theater district, but prior to the 1990s, Huron Road and Euclid Avenue came to a point at East 14th Street. In this narrow triangle stood the Point Building, a two-story structure once filled with shops and offices. The Wyndham Hotel, now the Crown Plaza, rose on part of the Point Building’s former site, contributing to Playhouse Square’s tourist destination status.
The Hanna Building (actually two buildings that connect across Brownell Court) was originally owned by Carl Hanna, grandson of industrialist and politician Marcus Hanna, and the M.A. Hanna estate. Throughout its history the Hanna Theatre has been a major theater in the United States, attracting notable stars such as Katharine Hepburn. In 2008, the Hanna Theatre underwent a thorough renovation and now houses the Great Lakes Theater.
Herman Pirchner immigrated to the United States from Tyrol in western Austria in 1925. After flouting Prohibition and fending off the Mafia, the intrepid Pirchner eventually opened Alpine Village in 1931. Although this was in the depths of the Great Depression, Pirchner’s restaurant, with Tyrolean décor and murals of Bavarian peasant life, became a favorite Cleveland haunt for the next three decades. Today the building is gone, and the parking lot that replaced it has also given way to construction of a new 34-story apartment tower.
The Palace Theater opened in 1922 as the flagship of the B. F. Keith chain of vaudeville theaters. After converting to a cinema, the theater continued in operation until 1969. After a two-decade restoration effort, the Palace became the largest of the multi-theater Playhouse Square complex.
The Cleveland Play House traces it origins to more than a century ago in the vicinity of what is now the Cleveland Clinic’s main campus three miles east. After a series of moves to larger facilities between the 1910s and 1980s, the Cleveland Play House finally decided to move downtown and operate the historic Allen Theatre in partnership with Cleveland State University.
The General Electric Chandelier hanging above the intersection of East 14th and Euclid is a recent addition to Playhouse Square, but it is part of GE’s long history of lighting innovations in Cleveland.
Idea Center was once the home of Kinney & Levan, which billed itself as the world’s largest showroom of china and housewares. Several decades after the store folded in the Great Depression, Cleveland’s public television and radio company, Ideastream, transformed the building into its studios.
The Lindner Company, a clothing store, opened in 1915 to much fanfare. After mergers with other retailers, it eventually became Sterling-Lindner-Davis and moved a few doors to the west. Bonwit Teller occupied the building from the late 1950s to early 1970s, and then it sat empty for most of the time until United Way Services arrived in 1995.
Mayor Tom Johnson first proposed a Cleveland subway in 1905, and the idea surfaced repeatedly thereafter. After several failed attempts between the world wars, the city came closest to realizing this dream in 1953, when Cuyahoga County voters approved a $35 million bond issue for a downtown circulator subway by a two-to-one margin, but the subway never became a reality. In one of the proposed route options (the loop), a station would have been located beneath the intersection of Euclid and East 13th.
Cleveland’s onetime Higbee’s department store once operated in a prior building on the northwest corner of Euclid and East 13th Street. In the early 1930s the store moved to the Cleveland Union Terminal complex on Public Square, and Sterling-Lindner-Davis eventually moved from the nearby Lindner Building (now United Way) to Higbee’s old store. Many remember Sterling-Lindner’s for the giant Christmas tree that graced its atrium each winter.
The Union Club of Cleveland was founded on September 24, 1872. Charles Schweinfurth, the renowned Cleveland architect, designed this building on the northeast corner of Euclid and East 12th for the club in the early 20th century, and it has remained here since opening in 1905.
The Statler Arms Building was built in 1911 as a hotel. Originally part of the fashionable Statler chain, the hotel became a Hilton property in the 1950s. It later operated as an office building after Cleveland’s hotel market declined and then became the first major apartment conversion downtown, several years ahead of what has become a common sight.
The John Hartness Brown Complex stands between the 925 Building and the Statler. Originally designed by New York Architects Warren, Wetmore, and Morgan, the construction of the John Hartness Brown Complex in 1901 sparked the beginnings of upper Euclid’s thriving shopping district. However, due to financial troubles, building transferals, and even a murder, the building has gone through different architectural shapes and designs throughout its history. Eventually the building became two different buildings, which at a glance look like four due to their different designs. Today the buildings’ redevelopment was long delayed by a revolving door of developers, each with mixed-use redevelopment plans that failed to materialize.
The Union Trust Building created from the financial success of the Union Trust Company in 1924, served as a headquarters building for the bank until 1933. When it opened, the building’s mammoth lobby was heralded as the world’s largest. Over the years the building housed different bank corporations including Huntington National Bank. Following Huntington’s move to Public Square however, the building stands today as 925 Euclid.
The PNC Building stands on the northwest corner of Euclid and East 9th, a site that the Hickox Building and then the Bond Clothing building once occupied. The Hickox Building, a red-brick skyscraper with a prominent turreted clock tower, stood from 1890 to 1946, when it was replaced by the Moderne-style Bond building. The current building, the former National City Bank headquarters, was built in 1979.
In 1894, the New England Building was crowned the “Largest and Finest on the Western Reserve”. The New England Building became home to Guardian Savings & Trust Co. in 1914 and, later, National City Bank. Today it houses a hotel.
Euclid Avenue has the nation’s finest collection of arcades. The most notable of these is “The Arcade,” built in 1890 with financing from John D. Rockefeller and other industrial tycoons. Inspired by Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and other European antecedents, the Old Arcade became home to a Hyatt Regency hotel in 2001.