Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio is the home of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the AFC’s Cleveland Browns.

It was also, in the ’70’s and 80’s, arguably the Rust Belt’s poster child.

A century ago, though, this home of the Federal Reserve’s Fourth District was the nation’s fifth largest city,  and for nearly half a century one of its industrial and political powerhouses.

Terminal Tower & Old Stone Church, Public Square, Cleveland

Terminal Tower & Old Stone Church, Public Square, Cleveland

It was here that John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and both he and U.S. President James Garfield, assassinated in 1881, are buried in its Lakeview Cemetery.

Cleveland’s Mark Hanna played Presidential kingmaker before the turn of 20th century, and Democratic Party national  conventions were held here in 1924 and 1936.

Cleveland’s  rich legacy is still very palpable in its historic architecture and the relics of its twentieth century melting pot neighborhoods.

 

Those who wonder why Cleveland is home to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame may not know that the very first rock ‘n’ roll concert was held in the Cleveland Arena in 1952, promoted by radio disc jockey Alan “Moondog” Freed.

The fire department closed the concert down when attendance far exceeded the Arena’s 20,000-seat capacity.

In the late 1960’s, Cleveland radio station WMMS-FM was a pioneer broadcaster of the ‘progressive rock’ radio format.

 

 

The current Cleveland Browns stadium was built in 1996 on the site of an earlier stadium dedicated in 1931, and where the first event held was the Schmeling-Stribling world heavyweight title fight.

Browns Stadium, Cleveland

Browns Stadium, Cleveland

The original structure was one of the first multi-purpose stadiums in the country, and until 1994 also the home field of the Cleveland Indians, who played games from their pennant-winning 1920 and 1948 World Series there.

Terminal Tower, Public Square, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Public Square, Cleveland

The Browns began play in 1946, the year after the Cleveland Rams won the NFL title and moved to Los Angeles.

The new team won its first NFL championship in 1949, and would win it three more times within the next 15 years.

Cleveland has the distinction of being the only city to retain the name and archives of an NFL franchise when its team moved to Baltimore in 1996.

A revived Cleveland Browns franchise resumed play three years later.

 

Cleveland was first settled just before the turn of the nineteenth century by families arrived from New England, who brought with them the idea of a  ‘town commons’ and accordingly laid their city out around a Public Square.

 

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

In 1930,  a new rail terminal was constructed on its southwest corner, topped by a fifty-two story structure that came to be known as the Terminal Tower.  It was, at the time, the tallest building west of the Hudson River and the biggest dig since construction of the Panama Canal.

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

 

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

While rail traffic has significantly diminished in the eighty years since its construction, the Tower lives on as the hub of the city’s light rail system, and as a vibrant retail and entertainment venue.  Much of the original architecture has been lovingly restored and maintained.

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Old Stone Church, Public Square, Cleveland

Old Stone Church, Public Square, Cleveland

 

The Old Stone Church, a longtime downtown Cleveland landmark, sits opposite the Tower on Public Square.

Its congregation dates back to 1820, and the current structure, dedicated in 1858, is the third church on the site.

Historical marker, Public Square, Cleveland

Historical marker, Public Square, Cleveland

Built in the Victorian Romanesque style, its interior is notable for its wood paneling, ornate carvings, stained glass, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling of trussed wood.  The church is the oldest surviving building on the Square.

Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument, Public Square, Cleveland, OH

Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument, Public Square, Cleveland, OH

 

Just across the Square, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, located within the Square commemorates the Civil War.

 

Along the monument’s esplanade, bronze groupings depict battle scenes for the  Navy, Artillery, Infantry and Cavalry.  The thirty actions in which soldiers from Cuyahoga County fought are listed on bronze bands.  Perched atop its 125-foot stone is the statue ‘Goddess of Freedom’.

 

Bronze relief sculptures here are among the first to honor the war role of women nurses, and to show a free black man in a combat role.  Before the Emancipation, Cleveland was a center for Abolitionists and served as fugitive slaves’ last stop on the ‘underground railway’ before Canada.

 

My walk on this morning has covered only a few blocks of Cleveland’s vintage downtown, but more architectural treats lie just beyond the Square.  Come along when I next post!

 

Author’s notes:

  • Both Cleveland and its Public Square, along with Cleveland’s Little Italy, figure prominently in my recently published novel Lifelines: An American Dream, available on Amazon.
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