The Terminal Tower complex in 1987
|Location||50 Public Square
|Opening||June 28, 1930|
|Antenna spire||235 m (771 ft)|
|Roof||216 m (709 ft)|
|Floor area||577,000 sq ft (53,600 m2)|
|Design and construction|
|Owner||Forest City Enterprises|
|Architect||Graham, Anderson, Probst & White|
|Developer||Van Sweringen brothers|
|Structural engineer||Henry Jouett|
Terminal Tower is a 52-story, 235 m (771 ft), landmark skyscraper located on Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It was built during the skyscraper boom of the 1920s and 1930s, and was the fourth-tallest building in the world when it was officially dedicated on June 28, 1930. Only three buildings in New York City were taller than its 708 feet (216 m), 52-floor frame. It is part of the Tower City Center mixed-use development, and its major tenants include Forest City Enterprises (corporate headquarters and current building owner) and Riverside Company.
Built for $179 million by the Van Sweringen brothers, the tower was to serve as an office building atop the city's new rail station, the Cleveland Union Terminal. Originally planned to be 14 stories, the structure was expanded to 52 floors with a height of 708 feet (216 m) and rests on 280-foot (85 m) caissons. Designed by the firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, the tower was modeled after the Beaux-Arts New York Municipal Building by McKim, Mead, and White. The Terminal Tower opened for tenants as early as 1928, though the Union Terminal complex wasn't officially dedicated until 1930. It would remain the tallest building in the world outside of New York City until the completion of the main building of Moscow State University in Moscow in 1953 and would continue as the tallest building in North America, outside of New York City, until the Prudential Center in Boston, Massachusetts was completed in 1964. The building's height allowed radio station WHK to place antennas on the building to increase range of the 1420 kHz signal.
In the 1980s, a plan to build a taller building than the Terminal Tower was put forward, but was rejected by city officials who wanted to keep the Terminal Tower as the city's tallest building. The building, the BP Building, was scaled down, and the Terminal Tower remained the tallest building in Cleveland until the completion of Key Tower in 1991.
On a clear day, visitors on the observation deck can see 30 miles (48 km) from downtown Cleveland.
On August 26, 1976, gunman Ashby Leach stormed a Chessie System conference room on the 42nd floor. Leach, who was disgruntled with Chessie System's decision not to pay into a G.I. Bill fund that would have increased his wages and benefits during his apprenticeship with the company, held thirteen hostages before his arrest. He was subsequently jailed for three months pending trial, before being acquitted of kidnapping and convicted for assault, extortion and carrying an illegal weapon. Upon his release, he embarked on a speaking tour for the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War. After the hostage incident, direct access to the floor was removed. When Chessie left the building, the observation deck reopened.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the observation deck was again closed to the public. In 2007, a proposal was brought to Forest City to reopen the deck. The proposal included a renovation of the deck and the addition of an express elevator to take visitors to it. This was to be done after the upper floors were renovated and the scaffolding removed.
In 2010, Forest City Enterprises finished renovating the complex's elevators, upper floors, and spire. The Observation deck reopened on July 10, 2010 for a limited period, with plans to expand public access.
To reach the observation deck, visitors take the elevator to the 32nd floor and then transfer to another elevator to reach the 42nd floor. Prior to its original closure, the deck was open only on weekends, to prevent disruption to the law firm that has offices on the 32nd floor.
The Terminal Tower was lit when it opened in 1930. A strobe light on top of the tower rotated 360 degrees. It helped ships in Cleveland's port and airplane pilots landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. In the 1960s, the strobe was retired and replaced with conventional aircraft warning lights. The tower only once went dark, during the Northeast Blackout of 2003.
The Terminal Tower is lit in a golden color at night, but for special occasions it is lit in seasonal colors (e.g., red and green during the Christmas holiday season). After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the building was lit in red, white, and blue. The colored lighting is accomplished with a Light Emitting Diode lighting system.
The Terminal Tower is lit like New York City's Empire State Building. Many Cleveland social and medical groups light the Terminal for their causes. In February, the Terminal is red for the American Heart Association Go Red for Women campaign. The Terminal has been bathed in blue for Autism Awareness and pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. Also some of Cleveland's ethnic groups have had the Terminal lit in their ethnic colors. The Terminal goes green on Saint Patrick's Day. On Polish Constitution Day, usually May 3, Cleveland's Pol-Am community lights the Terminal in red and white for Poland. When Bishop Anthony Pilla was made President of the USNCCB-or the Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1995, the Terminal was lit in red, green, and white by Cleveland's Italian American community.
In popular culture
- During February in 2003-2006, the Terminal Tower hosted an annual "Tackle the Tower" stairclimb charity race from the Tower City mall concourse to the observation deck.
- The Terminal Tower appeared in the climactic scene of the 2001 movie Proximity, starring Rob Lowe. Lowe's character led his pursuers from the RTA rapid station to the shopping concourse.
- The tower is featured in the films The Fortune Cookie (1966), The Deer Hunter (1978), A Christmas Story (1983), and Major League (1989).
- Cleveland-based art-punk band Pere Ubu titled their 1985 compilation of early singles and B-sides Terminal Tower.
- The tower can be seen in some scenes from Spider-Man 3 (2007) and The Avengers (2012), parts of which were filmed in Cleveland. It is also seen in parts of Welcome to Collinwood (2002) and The Oh in Ohio (2006).
- On August 20, 1938, as part of a publicity stunt by the Come to Cleveland Committee, Cleveland Indians players Hank Helf and Frankie Pytlak, successfully caught baseballs dropped from the tower by Indians' third baseman Ken Keltner. The 708-foot (216 m) drop broke the 555-foot, 30-year-old record set by Washington Senator catcher Gabby Street at the Washington Monument. The baseballs were estimated to have been traveling at 138 miles (222 km) per hour when caught.
- Terminal Tower at CTBUH Skyscraper Database
- Terminal Tower at Emporis
- Terminal Tower at SkyscraperPage
- Terminal Tower at Structurae
- "Terminal Tower". Forest City Enterprises. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- "Cleveland Recommended Tours". Yahoo! Travel. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
- Hunt, Andrew E. (2001-05-01, copyright 1999). The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. New York University Press. pp. 182–183. ISBN 978-0-8147-3581-7. OCLC 40848421. Retrieved 2010-09-28. Lay summary.
- Joy, Ted (June 1977). "The Siege of Terminal Tower". Mother Jones Magazine: 21–25, 58–59. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- Petkovic, John (2010-07-09). "Terminal Tower observation deck reopens to the public". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- Ischay, Lynn (2010-07-11). "Gallery: Terminal Tower observation deck reopens". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
- Smith, Robert L. (2010-08-01). "Hundreds savor the view and the memories from Terminal Tower's observation deck". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
- "Terminal Tower Observation Deck to open this Summer". Downtown Cleveland Alliance, 2010-06-28.
- When Baseballs Fell From On High, Henry Helf Rose To The Occasion, by Bruce Anderson, Sports Illustrated, March 11, 1985
- Nitz, Jim. "The Baseball Biography Project: Ken Keltner". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
- Herrick, Clay. Cleveland Landmarks (1986) ISBN 0-9646459-0-4
- Johannesen, Eric. Cleveland Architecture 1876-1976 (1979) ISBN 0-911704-21-3
- Nash, Eric. Manhattan Skyscrapers (1999) ISBN 1-56898-181-3
- Rarick, Holly. Progressive Vision: The Planning of Downtown Cleveland 1903-1930 (1986) ISBN 0-910386-86-2
- Van Tassel, David. Grabowski, John. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (1987) ISBN 0-253-33056-4
- Jr., Harwood H. Herbert. Invisible Giants: The Empires of Cleveland's Van Sweringen Brothers (2003) ISBN 0-253-34163-9
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