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Terminal Tower celebrates 75th year



Published: Fri, July 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The tower has been a staple of downtown Cleveland through many changes.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland Browns disappeared for three years, the steel mills thrived and dwindled and the city's population rose and fell, but through it all the iconic Terminal Tower skyscraper stood tall as a symbol of Cleveland's stature.

"It is a grand old lady of a building," said Scott Smith, managing partner of the Weston Hurd law firm that for more than seven decades has been housed in the Terminal Tower, now celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Over the years the Terminal Tower complex has been the Cleveland Union Terminal Project, Terminal Group and Tower City Center. One building in the complex has been the Hotel Cleveland, Sheraton Cleveland, Stouffer's Inn on the Square, Renaissance Cleveland Hotel and more.

The complex has starred in at least eight books, in acclaimed photos by tenant Margaret Bourke-White and in thousands of materials of the Cleveland Memory Project at Cleveland State University.

The tower, 708 feet and 52 stories, is no longer Cleveland's biggest, but still looms largest in local lore.

"It has incredible memories to me of being and meaning downtown since I knew what a downtown was," says Joe Roman, who runs the development-minded Cleveland Tomorrow organization in the tower.

Each day about 30,000 people use the commuter rail station in the building's basement and some 6 million per year use just Forest City Enterprise's share of the complex, which includes the Terminal Tower and attached Tower City enclosed shopping center.

Laying the foundation

The tower was built by Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen, developers and bachelor brothers from suburban Shaker Heights. The main architects, Graham, Anderson, Probst & amp; White, avoided the bold new Art Deco style for the gracious Beaux Arts of the earlier Hotel Cleveland, built in 1918.

The complex's offices soon hosted Sherwin-Williams, Sohio, Republic Steel and law firms. The marble depot featured 18 passenger tracks, an indoor taxi stand and 175,000 feet of stores and restaurants.

Train service began in 1930, and some 2,600 luminaries dedicated the complex on June 28, 1930. The last intercity trains left the complex in 1977.

Forest City gradually took control and finished most of a $400 million renovation in 1990, adding fountains, skylights, the Skylight Office Tower and Chase Financial Tower/Ritz-Carlton tower and The Avenue, with 110 mostly upscale stores.




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