Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cleveland in 1927, part 1

I recently obtained ten 4x5 glass plate negatives of Cleveland, taken in about 1927. They appealed to me because they were personal photographs, so they weren't the same images that I've seen reproduced many times before. Some were of areas that I haven't really seen photos of. Further, the large size of the negatives means that they contain a heck of a lot of information. This includes street signs, billboards, and signs in store windows.

I want to thank Bill Barrow, Special Collections Librarian at Cleveland State University and the fine folks in the Digital Production Unit for helping me to identify the locations in these images and getting them digitized.

The negatives were scanned at 1200 DPI, which brought out almost all of the information they had. I strongly encourage you to click through full-resolution versions of the files on Flickr, to see all the detail.

Downtown Cleveland, seen from the Detroit-Superior Bridge

This image, taken on the Detroit-Superior (Veterans Memorial) Bridge shows the Terminal Tower under construction. The bridge to support the train tracks going into the terminal can be seen to the right, under construction. One can also see the Baltimore and Ohio railroad terminal, to the far right, at a time before it had lost its mansard roof. There are many signs identifying businesses as well as billboards.

It's interesting to note that the photographer appears to have climbed up on the steel arch of the bridge to take this photograph.

Euclid Avenue

This photo shows Euclid Avenue, looking west toward Public Square. The Soldiers and Sailors Monuement can be seen in the distance. The Loews Mall theater was showing Rod La Rocque in Resurrection, allowing us to date the image to 1927, the year that film was released. All sorts of other illuminated signs line the street, including those for clothiers and dentists.

Police officer and horse

Finally, I offer you a mounted firefighter and his horse. They are photographed in front of Public Auditorium. This was about the time when the fire department became fully mechanized, so this may well have been the last horse in their service.

Check in for our next post, where we look into a few more of these photographs.


  1. I'd bet money that the building is the Public Auditorium.

  2. Look how wide the sidewalks on the Detroit-Superior Bridge used to be! I'm with John - it sure looks like that the last picture was taken on the Mall, in front of Public Auditorium.

  3. After looking at the street view on google, it most certainly is the west facade of the Public Auditorium, which means that the police officer is in the Mall. Of course we don't think of the facade looking like this anymore because of the soon to be demolished convention center entrance that was out in place; but the east side still looks like this.

  4. Yep, I recognized that building immediately as the Public Auditorium. My office in Erieview Tower faces east and I've been looking at the side of the Public Auditorium for 5 years! Love the old pictures. :)

  5. Thank you all for the identification of the image. I've updated the text to reflect it.

  6. It probably is at least one of the last fire department horses. The last line company to be motorized occurred about March 1925 and the absolute last horses in service were retired at headquarters on March 15, 1926 when the water tower was motorized.
    Paul Nelson, Historian
    Fire Museum

  7. Saw no pic o0f the Arcade..Did I miss it?

  8. I missed it too. Maybe it's in part 2.

  9. The Arcade is in the second photograph, on the right side of the street, about halfway down the block.