Downtown Cleveland, Ohio


As Day 2 began, I wanted to spend just a few minutes exploring Cleveland’s downtown, with hopes of spotting some more of the recognizable landmarks from the A Christmas Story movie.

It might not be Cleveland’s tallest building anymore, but in my opinion, the Terminal Tower remains its most prominent skyscraper.  If it looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it in the opening scenes of A Christmas Story, when the kids head downtown to peer into Higbee’s window display.  The Terminal Tower has also appeared in Spider-Man 3 and Major League.

At 708 feet (216 meters), the Terminal Tower was Cleveland’s highest skyscraper for six decades, from its completion in 1930 until the Key Tower was built in 1991.  It has held other honors as well, including being the tallest building in North America, outside New York City, until 1964.  And, it was the second tallest building in the world, on the day it was completed.

There is an observation deck atop the Terminal Tower. It was closed after the September 11th attacks, but reopened briefly in 2010. As of this writing, it appears the observation deck is open on Saturdays and Sundays only, 12-5 p.m. and 12-4 p.m. respectively, with an admission fee of $5 per person. You should do some searches for the latest information before you go.

Another building quickly caught my eye, as I wandered around Cleveland’s city center.  The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is located in the town’s public square.  It is several decades older than the Terminal Tower — with construction completed in 1894.  It, too, made a cameo in A Christmas Story.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument was constructed in memory of those who died in the Civil War.  Atop the 125 foot column, the Goddess of Freedom stands, defended by the Shield of Liberty.

Four bronze statues around the base of the monument depict the four branches of the Union Army: Navy, Cavalry, Infantry, and Artillery.

Inside, there are relief sculptures around the central column…

… one of which depicts Abraham Lincoln freeing a slave.

The inside walls are covered with the names of lives lost during the War Between the States.

The monument is beautiful, and that’s no doubt a result of a recent $2 million refurbishment project.  Entry is free, but donations are accepted.

One landmark from A Christmas Story that I missed is the old Higbee’s Department Store. Higbee’s was seen in the opening shots of the movie, and again in the famous “You’ll shoot your eye out” Santa scene. At the time, I didn’t know where to look for Higbee’s, so I didn’t find it — but it is easy to locate. If you’re facing Terminal Tower, the old Higbee’s building is located at its base, on the left-hand side (at the corner of Roadway and Ontario Street). Higbee’s was bought out by Dillard’s in the 1990’s, and the downtown store closed in 2002.

On the north side of the public square, the Old Stone Church stands watch, just as it has since 1855.  It’s probably in better condition than that fountain in the foreground, which has sprung several leaks.  I’m not complaining, though.  The resulting puddles…

… provided great reflections of the church…

…Terminal Tower…

… and the tallest building in Cleveland (and for that matter, Ohio), the 57-story Key Tower, completed in 1991.

And speaking of reflections, photographers will enjoy finding unique angles in the glass walls of the BP Building (a.k.a. 200 Public Square).  You’ll find not one…

… but two reflections of Terminal Tower, in the building’s angled front.

Don’t forget about one of Cleveland’s biggest tourist draws — the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. The easily recognizable pyramid-shaped building is located on the waterfront, at the end of East 9th Street.
Once you’re satisfied with your Cleveland experience, head out of town via OH-2/I-90, eastbound, for the drive on up the Erie coast towards Pennsylvania and New York.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive into downtown Cleveland:

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