Monday, January 19, 2009

SEA OF HOLES




A perhaps even larger hole [see previous post] to soon appear on a main Cleveland, Ohio, thoroughfare will be on Euclid Avenue, just east of E. 55th. Also scheduled for demolition are two adjacent commercial buildings, one built in 1882 to the designs of Cleveland architects Albert Smith and Anthony Myers [the bottom image], and its 'annex' built in 1895 to the designs of the same, then-partnerless Albert Smith. These two buildings are the sole surviving vestiges of the period when a bustling commercial district existed right here due to the highly used passenger rail station at E. 55th and Euclid. When rail travel declined, so did this district, followed not long after by the severe decline of all of Euclid Avenue and its nearby streets. Interestingly, with the recent cosmetic overhaul of Euclid Avenue, inflatingly promoted as the beginning of a "revival" of the avenue's glorious past, it was easy to think that what was built literally during that hallowed era would be coveted. But, no -- the hypocrisy here knows no bounds. Other historic buildings, across the street from these two, were recently demolished [see the November 2005 archives of this blog] for a 'bike-lane' (which, of course, has since been "used" about as much as the new sidewalks adjacent to it, in front of the expansive now-vacant lots). Clearly, the misguided "Urban Renewal" philosophies of the 1950s are still "alive and well" in Cleveland, even when the "renewal" results in vacant lots. The Beatles wrote about a presumed-imaginary place called the Sea Of Holes -- but, Cleveland is revealing to the whole world that it wasn't imaginary, after all!! ------ NOTE: THESE BUILDINGS WERE DEMOLISHED IN THE SPRING OF 2009.

8 Comments:

Blogger Tim Ferris said...

It's frustrating coming back home to such a tacky city, having lived in Boston for a while--there's no appreciation here of the built heritage. Tacky, tasteless, pedestrian, wasteful--a city with these low-class, no-class attributes doesn't go very far. People wonder why kids don't stay here and settle down--it's too heartbreaking to see art and artifacts wasted as part of the typical civic process. It doesn't have to be this way.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous jeff buster said...

10,000 little mistakes. (per year) That's Cleveland, Ohio.

Some of the mistakes aren't even little - like contracting for 50 years of AMP ohio coal generation.

This demo is/was a mistake, but now the building has no prospective tenants because so many other of the 10,000 annual mistakes have been made.

The CDC's will straighten it all out.

Viva la Shrinking City!

6:03 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Bicycle lanes are such an after thought for ODOT and RTA planning that your suggestion that the building was torn down to achieve a four foot width of asphalt is beyond laughable. Others, and perhaps you as well, are looking for excuses.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Tim Ferris said...

Kevin, I don't know who you are since your profile isn't visible, but have you taken the time to review the background here? Craig is usually pretty good at his basic research.

2:59 AM  
Blogger CraigB said...

Kevin --

I never have to "look for excuses" when I tell a story on this blog. And, if it's just my opinion, I'll say so on the blog.
I got the bicycle lane story from the Cleveland Landmarks Commission who had to 'review' the demolition requests, and from RTA themselves via a Euclid Corridor newsletter they were putting out. And destroying historic buildings for a bike lane isn't a laughing matter. Unfortunately, there's a prevailing mindset in Cleveland that these are just "old" buildings, standing in the way of "progress". And if you, Kevin, agree with such things, why are you wasting your time looking at a pro-preservation site, anyway??

8:42 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

First, off I favor preservation, so I read the notes here with interest. I think if they tear down the church and building on Superior and E. 18th or so, it's areal loss.

The following is a note that erred, when I tried to post it this am, though I shared it with Tim Ferris....

RTA and ODOT make decisions and cycling on Euclid was not the biggest issue on their mind, so I don't think it's fair to attribute cycling as the reason for tearing down a building. RTA and ODOT didn't mind adjusting cycling safety when it fits their desires and needs. For instance, on Euclid Avenue there are points where the bike lane actually disappears (for instance at E. 55th St. as you proceed east
under a railroad bridge or west on the opposite side of the street).

The explanation was that the street could not be widened at this point. Where the lane disappears, the cyclist merges with traffic. Another, there have been instances in which RTA drivers have turned right into pedestrian cross walks and injured (or killed) pedestrians.
While I believe these accidents are at Public Square, the same
traffic patterns occurs along Euclid, where cars cross across a bike lane in order to turn right. Cyclists traveling in this bike, proceeding straight, are vulnerable as a result. In conclusion, there were a lot of decisions made on Euclid Avenue.
As a cyclist I appreciate many of them, but please don't think that
the major decisions along Euclid Avenue where made with cycling and
safety in mind. RTA and ODOT were perfectly happy to reduce cycling
safety when it suited there needs. I think, from a preservationists' standpoint, you are expressing concern that they didn't adjust the plan for preservationist goals on this building. I don't recall a huge
outcry to protect the buildings during the process, but that was the time to make the case.

My guess is cyclists and preservationists are probably aligned, as cyclists tend to appreciate the road and city as
given. I love riding in Cleveland because of the variety of buildings and opportunities to appreciate them and nature. Cyclists aren't the ones asking for major highways or roads or tearing down large swaths
of the city. We are asking for some notice and visibility on the
roads, seeking the safety that results.

Kevin
ClevelandBikes : When ClevelandBikes, Cleveland Benefits!
ClevelandBikes.org

9:41 PM  
Blogger CraigB said...

Kevin --
Thank you for your very informative (and friendlier) comment. I, too, am a byclist, although I don't practice this as much as I suspect you do. I can appreciate all you've mentioned. Nevertheless, what I wrote in my response to your original comment still holds. I don't make things up and put them on to this blog. It was decided to widen Euclid Avenue, for a median (gives the street a sort of boulevard feel but certainly not necessary), and a bike lane. The median alone would have only 'cancelled out' the sidewalk in front of those buildings; the bike lane made it necessary to remove the buildings. The desperation to get some sort of 'life' back on to Euclid Avenue means that ANYTHING will be 'sacrificed'. What is the point of having a bike lane, or 'gussying up' a street with a median, if what it is passing through is large expanses of vacant land on either side? This is potentially a HUGE topic and I think it best we not consume much more of the space on the blog with this. You are always welcome to e-mail me off-blog. Thank you for your thoughtful observations.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Bloody Frida said...

Saturday, I drove down Euclid Avenue and saw that these buildings were torn down - I was so distraught. Thanks for photographing it.

10:56 AM  

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