A relic of retail
In my opinion, The Arcade is the true gem of downtown Cleveland. I was always fascinated by pictures that I'd seen online, but I knew that those pixels were probably failing to do the structure any real justice. I had to see it with my own eyes. And I was not disappointed. The Arcade is spectacular.
The entrances to the Arcade, located on Euclid to the south and Superior to the north, somewhat obscure the beauty held within their walls. They merely look like two of many turn of the twentieth century, run of the mill (though handsomely built) façades forming man made canyons over the thoroughfares.
As I took these photos walking down the main gallery, I had to stop often just to reflect on the history of where I was standing. I wanted to give proper admiration to the craftsmanship of the copper and wooden elements; to take in the brass covered atmosphere of another time. It was like I had stepped out of a time machine and was more than happy to savor the experience.
The Arcade opened in 1890 and is regarded as one of the earliest examples of an indoor retail facility in the country. Born during Victorian times, in addition to the five-tiered arcade, two nine story buildings were constructed. It was first renovated in 1939 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Designed as a nod to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy, its construction was financed by some of Cleveland’s wealthiest businessmen. With a few structural upgrades, The Arcade soldiered on through most of the twentieth century before time started taking its toll.
Through the latter part of the twentieth century, the Arcade was decaying. It stood neglected and empty for far too long, forgotten in the shadow of newer competition such as the Tower City Center. The 1980s and 90s were tough times for many large cities’ downtown, and the Arcade was becoming another victim.
Finally, in 2001, a massive upgrade was taken out on The Arcade. The Hyatt Company added one of their namesake hotels to the list of tenants, taking tenancy of the upper three levels of the main corridor. A food court was added to the southeastern end, and the entire complex was completely refurbished.
I walked away from The Arcade still in complete wonderment. It is definitely one of my favorites and joins the likes of Country Club Plaza in Kansas City and Ala Moana Center in Honolulu as special places I have been more than privileged to have seen myself.