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US-6 The Longest Highway – Day 13

Our Second Day in Cleveland, Ohio

Don Milne here again as Roadtrip-'62 ™ begins a second day in Cleveland, Ohio. Yesterday, we traveled only about 8 miles directly from Euclid, Ohio to the University Center area of Cleveland, though we also looped around a lot while sightseeing. Today we’ll wander around downtown Cleveland. Yesterday we saw museums, today has more, but also some surprises. If you see anything you like, get yourself out on the road and enjoy it in person. No matter how much you might enjoy this virtual roadtrip, there's nothing like the real thing! At any time, click on an underlined word below to learn more about the places on the trip. Time for me to grab the wheel and go into Cleveland, Ohio!

1957 Cuyahoga County Freeway System Plan
1957 Cuyahoga County Freeway System Plan (public domain)

You may have noticed last night when we came into the Cleveland area from the east, we did not enter on a freeway. While no freeway was planned for the US-6 corridor in 1962, one was planned that would take us into downtown from the University Circle area, where we stayed last night. Another was planned running north and south near here. Many other freeways from the official 1957 plan were also never constructed. Why not? Cleveland was somewhat slow in getting started with its freeway construction, having only the Shoreway (I-90), a small portion of the Innerbelt Freeway (I-71) south out of downtown, and the disconnected Willow Freeway (I-71) open by 1962. However, the city and county had grand plans for over 200 miles of freeways throughout the metropolitan area.

Cleveland’s slow start allowed people to see the effects of freeways, both good and bad. Among the negative effects were destruction of property, division of neighborhoods, and flight of businesses and residents to new suburbs which were now easier to access. Between the 1950 and 1960 Census, the City of Cleveland’s population dropped from 914,808 to 876,336. It may not seem like much, but it was the beginning of a trend. During 1962, the Lakeland Freeway (I-90) was constructed northeast through Euclid and adjacent cities, and many of the residents there are still bitter about the way it divided neighborhoods. Roy Larick, of the Euclid Historical Society, notes, “1962 was the year that a freeway (OH-2, I-90) was laid through Euclid, dividing us forever into two halves. This is not a feel-good story, but certainly indicative of the time. In any event we have freeway construction photos from 1962 and also a 1962 photo of a very handsome small church (Noble Union Church) that was demolished in that year for the route.”

Cleveland freeway construction, about 1962
Cleveland freeway construction, about 1962 (by Frank Aleksandrowicz, from Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library)

So by 1963, when a plan emerged to run three new freeways through cities in the Shaker Heights area, citizens knew what to expect and protested long and hard. Their most successful strategy involved creating a Nature Center at the site of some existing small lakes, which were right in the path of one of the freeways. After almost seven years of fighting at every opportunity, in February 1970, Ohio Governor Rhodes announced that the state had scrapped the plans for both the Clark and Lee Freeways. It is likely that the tactics used in Shaker Heights were also used in other parts of the Cleveland area, as many other freeway segments were ultimately abandoned. From time to time, plans for construction of some of the abandoned freeways still pop up, but never gain any traction. So, today we will continue into downtown Cleveland on US-6, but not on a freeway.

Leaving University Circle, I noticed that unfortunately, both Superior Avenue (US-6, US-20) and Euclid Avenue (US-6ALT, US-20ALT) travel through some slums. Nearby Chester Avenue (US-322) is much more pleasant way to downtown. Did I mention that Cleveland is a BIG city? It is the biggest on either of our roadtrips yet. Its 1960 population was 876,336, compared to Atlanta, Georgia, the biggest city on our US-23 journey, which was only 487,455. The entire metropolitan area, covering four counties, exceeded 2,000,000 in 2010.

Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio
Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio

Let’s start with something that will bring back lots of 1962 memories in downtown Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Just why is this in Cleveland, anyway? Well, it turns out that rock 'n' roll was more or less invented in Cleveland in the early 1950s. In 1952, Cleveland radio deejay Alan Freed coined the term "Rock n' Roll" and helped promote the first rock n' roll concert, The Moondog Coronation Ball. But you have to look behind the scenes to see why that could be successful here. In the late 1940s, the owner of Cleveland’s Record Rendezvous, Leo Mintz, noticed that sales of big band records were falling. He also noticed that his younger customers would dance around his store when the manager played Rhythm & Blues (R&B) records. To increase sales, he tried to get the local radio stations to play R&B records, but the 6 stations in Cleveland played only music by white musicians. Racist policies like this were not confined to the south at this time. In order to eliminate the racial tone of this music, he called it rock & roll, a term that had been used since the early 1920s as a blues song lyric meaning sexual intercourse. Leo Mintz met Alan Freed when he was a disc jockey in nearby Akron, Ohio and when Freed moved to the Cleveland market in April 1950, things started to change.

Cleveland also boasts the first established rock writer, Jane Scott of the Plain Dealer newspaper, who began a teen music column in 1962. So, here we are at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which was established in 1995 to celebrate the music, the people, and Cleveland’s part is establishing this truly American musical genre. The impressive glass pyramid building was designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei, who confesses that he had to do a lot of research about rock & roll. In the end, he was successful in his stated mission. "In designing this building," says Pei, "it was my intention to echo the energy of rock and roll.” The museum features many Hall of Fame inductees we would have listened to in 1962. The Drifters recorded their third million seller, “Up On the Roof,” that year. While Little Anthony and The Imperials did not have a hit in 1962, we surely could not forget their 1960 song "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop". And it was Alan Freed who christened singer Anthony Gourdine “Little Anthony,” for the youthful quality in his voice. Over in New York, inductee James Brown’s famous concert Live At The Apollo occurred in 1962. Let’s listen to "Bumble Bee Twist" from that year, by Hall of Famers, The Ventures. They offered two albums that year capitalizing on The Twist dance craze and next year would record the classic Telstar.


Also on the Lake Erie shore, so close we can walk from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, we find the Great Lakes Science Center. Though the center is too new for our journey, their docked Steamship William Mather Museum is not. The Steamship William G. Mather was built in 1925 and its principal cargo was iron ore from the Lake Superior region delivered to steel mills in lower Great Lakes cities such as Cleveland. Traveling along the Lake Huron shore on US-23, our first Roadtrip-’62 ™ route, we would have undoubtedly watch the Mather steam by. We would have seen her after her 1954 repowering with a cross-compound steam turbine. That was about the only major change from her original outfitting, though in 1964 the Mather became the first Great Lakes vessel to have fully automated boiler controls. A bow thruster, to increase maneuverability, was also added that year. In December, 1987, the ship was donated to the Great Lakes Historical Society. It was the last remaining vessel owned by the former Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company. After some major work between 1990 and 1995, largely by members of that society and the Harbor Heritage Society, it opened as a museum. Today we can see it from the inside and imagine ourselves sailing Lake Erie.

Steamship William Mather Museum, Cleveland, Ohio
Steamship William Mather Museum, Cleveland, Ohio

We don’t do a lot of shopping on Roadtrip-’62 ™ , but Cleveland has some unique locations for shopping, so let’s go. I’m starting at The Arcade, the first large-scale indoor shopping mall in the United States. The building features five stories of skylit galleries connected to two ten-story towers and it opened in May, 1890. The exterior is Romanesque Revival, a popular Victorian architectural style from the end of the 1900s. It was still functioning well and looking good in the early 1960s, hosting events like the Showboat Ball and the Cuyahoga County Nurserymen's Association annual spring home and garden display. But as with all older buildings, it experienced a slow decline. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, becoming just the ninth building in the country so designated. But it languished until 2001, when new owners completed a $60 million renovation. Today it includes the Hyatt Regency Cleveland hotel on the top three levels of the atrium and in the two towers. I love the Victorian styling of the metalwork and lighting, and details such as the row of gargoyles gazing down at me.

And in case that wasn’t enough shopping, the 5th St Arcades is nearby! This is actually two older arcades that have been connected, the former Colonial Arcade and the Euclid Arcade. The Colonial Arcade’s interior Georgian Revival style is different than the nearby Arcade, though it was designed by an architect who assisted with that larger building. The former Euclid Arcade portion has white marble floors and white terra cotta walls. The 5th St Arcades also connects to a hotel, the former Colonial Hotel which is now the Residence Inn. This complex had a high vacancy rate until recently, but beginning in January of 2013, the new owners are treating the space as a business incubator by offering reduced rent to start-up companies. During the winter months, it hosts the Downtown Farmers Market every Friday from 11am-2pm. That’s a new development which was not around in 1962. Who knows what you’ll see there by now!

interior of Stouffer’s restaurant, Harper Woods, Michigan, early 1960s postcard)
interior of Stouffer’s restaurant, Harper Woods, Michigan, early 1960s (from postcard)

Both arcades have restaurants, and there are many more downtown, so let’s have lunch before continuing our sightseeing. Back in 1962, we might have eaten at a Stouffer’s. Now known for frozen foods under that name, Lean Cuisine, and others, the company began right here in 1922. Their first food business was a Medina County Creamery dairy store right back in The Arcade building. The family opened a real restaurant downtown a few years later and by 1937 also had restaurants in Detroit, Pittsburgh and New York City. In 1946, they opened another in nearby Shaker Heights, Ohio and the manager began freezing menu items for customers to take home. These were a cut above TV dinners, and by the mid-1950s were so popular that Stouffer’s built a frozen food processing plant and began distributing nationwide. Further restaurant expansion also occurred, with restaurants in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Minneapolis. But today you cannot find a Stouffer’s restaurant, not even in their old home of downtown Cleveland.

Instead, let’s head about two miles east of downtown, back up Superior Street (US-6), to Sterle’s Country House. This authentic Slovenian restaurant has been here since 1954, so it fits our plans. Featured dishes include wiener schnitzel, chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, sausage and sauerkraut. This landmark is also famous for world-class polka performances, with artists such as “Waltz King” Lou Trebar and “King of Polka” Frankie Yankovic. They still have polka parties on the weekends! But I’m here for lunch, so let’s try the Chicken Paprikash, a dish of braised chicken with dumplings that came here from Hungary. Enjoy the wall murals of eastern European scenery while we eat!

Federal Reserve Bank Learning Center, Cleveland, Ohio
entrance gate to Federal Reserve Bank Learning Center, Cleveland, Ohio (public domain)

Back downtown after lunch, to visit the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. This is an amazing building, both inside and out. The building was completed in 1923 to house the Fourth Federal Reserve District, one of twelve districts in the United States’ central banking system created by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. The exterior is covered in a pinkish stone and includes three larger-than-life statues in stone and bronze and other impressive architectural details. A feature we would not have seen in 1962 was their brand new IBM 1401 computer system. In that year though, the bank employed 43 tour directors for guided tours of the bank interior. It’s even more impressive than the exterior, with a lobby that is one of the most spectacular in the city. The walls are covered with a polished golden marble from Sienna, Italy. The marble complements the styling, which is Italian Renaissance. The vaulted and domed ceiling is trimmed with gold leaf in the main lobby and the executive floor. And the magnificence doesn’t stop there! The vault door is the largest in the world, at 5 feet thick, 100 tons, with a 47-ton, 19-foot-high hinge. The use of the vault was discontinued in 1997 but you can still marvel at it. One feature is new, but fun. In January 2006, the bank opened its Learning Center and Money Museum, which replaced the public teller windows. Those teller windows were closed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The museum has 25 interactive exhibits about money and a 23-foot-tall money tree!

Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland Ohio
Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland Ohio (from Photoscream at Flickr, used by permission)

If you are a sports fan, Cleveland is a good city for you, with both a pro baseball and football team. Today they also have a basketball team, The Cavaliers, but they did not begin play in the NBA in 1970. We could have watch either the Cleveland Indians play baseball or the Cleveland Browns play football in 1962…and we still can today. They now play in two separate stadiums, but back then they both played in the Cleveland Municipal Stadium. It was one of the early multi-purpose stadiums, originally constructed in 1932 in a failed bid by Cleveland to host the Olympics. It was demolished in 1996, following the relocation of the Browns to Baltimore as the Baltimore Ravens. During the 1996-1998 seasons, there was no NFL team in Cleveland. The new Cleveland Browns Stadium stands on the lakefront site of the former Municipal Stadium. Baseball moved in 1994 to Progressive field, originally Jacobs Field, several blocks southeasterly.

The Indians finished the 1962 season at 80-82, 6th in American League out of 10 teams. The team managed to battle for first place beyond mid-season though, before fading. On June 9, 1962, they signed Lou Piniella as an amateur free agent. This was the only season he played for Cleveland. He later became one of the great managers of baseball, finishing his managerial career at 14th in all-time managerial wins.

The Browns finished their season at 7-6-1, 3rd in NFL East Division, out of 7 teams. If we were in the stands we would have seen Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown's last year with the team. The Browns had been named for named Paul Brown, who was their first head coach, back in 1946. That year, the team was a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Brown was unceremoniously fired after the season, due to irreconcilable differences with young new team owner Art Modell, who had purchased the club in 1961. On another sad note for the year, the team acquired rookie runner Ernie Davis, the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner. Paul Brown's idea was to have two big backs with Davis and Jim Brown. But Davis became ill with leukemia and never played a game with the Browns. He passed away the following year.

camels at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland, Ohio
camels at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland, Ohio

I’m not much of a sports fan though, so I’m heading out to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has a great location, in a ravine along Big Creek. I love the view of the Fulton Parkway bridge’s concrete arches soaring across the zoo. Also because of the height change, there is a “deckwalk” down a hillside through a wooded area. It’s a quiet spot and gives a feeling that you’re out in the wild somewhere. Cleveland has had a zoo for over a hundred years. As I mentioned yesterday back at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the zoo was located there in University Circle until 1907. That year, the zoo moved to the current site and building began. By 1955, the Cleveland Zoo was a substantial site and they organized an African safari. They obtained three elephants, two hippos, two rhinos, three giraffes, and many smaller animals. The next year found many of the animals acquired on the safari displayed in the new Pachyderm Building. In January 1959, Big Creek overflowed and flooded out the reptile collection, damaging many buildings. But the Zoo recovered by 1962, adding moated lion and tiger exhibits. The Primate & Cat Building, Aquarium, Rain Forest, Wolf Wilderness, Australian Adventure, and African Elephant Crossing are all new additions since then. These bring the zoo up to modern standards and provide a lot more fun.

After our zoo visit is done, it’s late enough to find dinner and a motel for the night. I’m heading north towards the lakeshore, back to US-6. On the way, we can listen to a radio station that was brand new in 1962, WCLV. The station began as WDGO-FM on November 1 of that year, as a classical music station. It has stayed true to that mission for over 50 years, thanks to the efforts of Robert Conrad, president and co-founder. Conrad donated the station to a foundation in 2001 and it became a non-commercial station last year. It was one of only 11 commercial classical radio stations in the country at that time. Known also for local broadcasts including The City Club of Cleveland, often referred to as “Cleveland's Citadel of Free Speech”, WCLV also broadcasts the Cleveland Orchestra and syndicates it for distribution to more than 500 radio stations.

From the zoo, I’m taking US-42 back towards downtown. This odd route carries the even number intended for an east-west route but it runs nearly as far north-south. It begins here and ends in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to US-42, several other US-numbered routes begin here. Probably because it avoided Columbus completely, it remains intact as a route; none of it has been diverted to an Interstate freeway. We last crossed US-322 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and drove into downtown just a few blocks from it this morning. Its sister, US-422, is a rare instance of a US-numbered route being split in two parts, instead of continuous. One part begins in Cleveland and ends in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania. The other section begins in Hershey, Pennsylvania and ends at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. It never did cover the ground between these sections, which is occupied by parts of US-22 and US-322. The last route, US-21, has been severely shortened over the years. It used to begin in Cleveland, but now begins way down in Wytheville, Virginia. Everything north of there has been replaced by I-77 when it was truncated in West Virginia in 1971. The south end is at the Atlantic Ocean in Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina.

Black Jack Gum
Black Jack Gum (from advertisement)

Cleveland has been home to many big businesses over the years, as befits a big city. It was headquarters of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil from 1870-1885, which became the largest oil company in the world. The American Box Company was founded here in 1901 and grew to become one of the nation's top 3 box manufacturers before it moved to Fernwood, Mississippi in 1962, after being sold to Altamil Corp. American Chicle Co. was one of the world's leading chewing-gum manufacturers. It began as a merger between several Cleveland chewing-gum makers, one of which, Wm. J. White & Son, was the largest chewing-gum business in the world in 1899. By 1921 all operations in Cleveland had closed. It’s connected to 1962 because that was the year American Chicle was acquired by Warner-Lambert, a drug company. Some of its brands still living on under new owners include Beeman, Adams, Black Jack, Clove, and Chiclets.

Other big businesses include Cleveland Diesel Engine Div. of General Motors. It produced about 70% of the diesel engines for the navy's submarines during World War II. In the 1950s though, the navy needed fewer diesel engines with the development of atomic-powered submarines, so the Cleveland plant was closed in 1962. Richman Brothers was another large company, and many downtowns had one of their clothing stores back in 1962. They began here began in 1879 when Henry Richman moved his manufacturing and wholesale clothing business from Portsmouth, Ohio. Richman Brothers capitalized on the discount store expansion by forming the subsidiary General Men's Wear in 1962. This subsidiary operated leased menswear departments in discount store chains. They did well enough at it that in 1969 F.W. Woolworth, owner of the Woolco discount chain, bought the whole company. Unfortunately for Cleveland, none of these businesses are still located here! One old, large company is still here, though you won’t see much of it above ground. Akzo Nobel Salt is the largest salt producer in the U.S. and they began production in Cleveland in 1962. The mine is 1,800 feet under Lake Erie in a salt deposit more than 40 feet thick, which extends across parts of Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Ontario.

house on Clifton Blvd, Lakewood, Ohio
house on Clifton Blvd, Lakewood, Ohio (from and Lakewood Historical Society and Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library)

From the zoo, I need to get back to US-6. A 1956 map of Cleveland shows Clifton Blvd. and Lake Avenue as one-way streets, both carrying US-6 and US-20. By 1962, the Shoreway freeway extended from downtown to end at the point where these two one-way streets began, so it’s likely they were still both one-way that year. Today, they are both two-way streets so you can see the great homes along Clifton Blvd. from either direction. And there are great homes! The city’s motto is “City of Beautiful Homes.” No matter what architectural style you like, you can find big, beautiful examples along Clifton Blvd. Massive Victorian jostles with Tudor, Arts and Crafts, Colonial, to overgrown Bungalows. And not just single family homes; there are great examples of large apartment buildings too. If you travel Lake Avenue instead, there are even larger homes on the Lake Erie shore. US-6ALT uses Detroit Avenue a few blocks south, where much of the local commercial properties are located, so I avoided that.

Cotton Club bottle
Cotton Club bottle (from online auction)

After our architectural tour, I’ll do a little shopping for picnic supplies at a Heinen’s. They are one of the major grocery-store chains in the Cleveland area and had 5 stores and a new $1.5 million warehouse in 1962. I’m not sure where they all were then, but the closest to the zoo today is in Rocky River, west of Cleveland, conveniently on Clifton Blvd. Time for some picnic supplies: fresh fruit, bread, chips and pop. Cleveland’s own brand is Cotton Club Beverages. They began in 1902 as Miller and Becker and had expanded to the Lorain, Ohio and Akron, Ohio areas by 1962 with new warehouses. In 1998, the American Bottling Co. acquired Cotton Club and shut down its Cleveland area plant two years later, moving production to Columbus, Ohio. You can still buy the brand today, along with several others that Cotton Club used to produce, such as Swiss Crème, 50/50, and Cherikee Soda (yes, they misspelled it on purpose). Come to think of it, we can also still buy that Black Jack gum I mentioned earlier. Its licorice flavor is unique and has always been a favorite of mine.

Depending on when we might have come to Cleveland, one thing we might not have been able to buy was a newspaper. Cleveland experienced a newspaper strike that year, the city's third. The strike was triggered by a walkout of Teamsters Union delivery drivers on November 9, 1962. The root of the labor dispute was an attempt to organize the business department of the Cleveland Press. Even though the other paper in town, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, had union members in its own business department, it was pulled into the strike by union membership of employees in other departments. Before it was over, 2,400 members of 11 different unions were on strike against the two newspapers. The 129-day strike occurred during the heavy Christmas advertising season, and coincided with another newpaper strike in New York City! It was so bad for business that local department store owners created the Cleveland Shopping News for advertising, while a local weekly paper, the Heights Sun-Press, began publishing twice a week. The work stoppage was finally settled on April 4, 1963, with the union failing to obtain its closed shop. I guess I guess I’ll buy a magazine to read tonight instead.

shale cliff along Rocky River, Cleveland Ohio
shale cliff along Rocky River, Cleveland Ohio (by Tim Kiser at Flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.)

I’m heading down the Rocky River for an evening picnic. This another of my favorite places in Cleveland. Like the zoo, the Rocky River valley is in a deep gorge, which in some places in nearly 150 feet below the ground level on either side of the valley. This elevation change has required several beautiful high-level bridges to cross the valley. The valley is also heavily forested, with some exposed rock. Having come from the flat farmland I grew up in, the first time I drove this I thought it was magnificent! I’ve since seen real canyons but still enjoy this pleasant drive. Rocky River Reservation is the park along the river, and provides quiet from the city. If you were here earlier in the day, you might stop in to the grist mill or nature center for something to do. And though you might think it strange for a river through the middle of a metropolitan area, the Rocky River was ranked by Field & Stream magazine as one of the top steelhead trout rivers in the world. It’s also been featured on ESPN. There are also plenty of trails, so I’m taking an after dinner walk.


I enjoy the Rocky River parkway so much that I’m heading back to US-6 the same way I came. Back in 1962, we could have stayed at the Yorktown Motorist Hotel, right on Clifton Blvd., and it was still a motel as late as 1989. However, it’s now a health foods store and wellness center, so we’ll have to go out farther west. I’ve had enough fun for one day: Roadtrip-’62 ™ and I will see you in the morning.

former Yorktown Motorist Hotel, Lakewood, Ohio
former Yorktown Motorist Hotel, Lakewood, Ohio (from Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library)

All photos by the author and Copyright © 2016, 2021 - Donald Dale Milne, except as noted.

All other content Copyright © 2016, 2021 - Donald Dale Milne.

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