The concept for the Galleria began in 1985, when Richard E. Jacobs, who had just bought the Cleveland Indians baseball team, also bought the Tower at Erieview, which had opened in 1964. Jacobs began planning to convert the plaza that lay in front of the tower into a shopping center to serve the Cleveland area. The result was the Galleria, a glass-enclosed 207,600-square-foot (19,290 m2) mall, opened in late 1987. It was the first major retail venture in Downtown Cleveland since the 1920s.
The Galleria, which helped spark Cleveland's downtown revitalization in the 1990s, had become very empty due to its lack of a department store anchor and its perception as being far from the center of Downtown action. In 2005, the mall had only 36 tenants out of a possible 66.
In 2003, The Galleria and Tower at Erieview were purchased by Werner Minshall, who made a proposal to close the mall and convert it into a convention center. This did not happen and Minshall changed his approach to try to revive the mall by filling it with local tenants. So far, this plan has been very slow to develop, but it has seen success: a few area businesses have bought retail space, and several area vendors set up stands during the week and sell their goods . There are a few non-retail businesses and groups on the second floor. Another feature of the Galleria is its food court, which attracts downtown workers on weekdays.
As of late, the Galleria has become noted for its Gardens under Glass, an urban farm beneath the mall's atrium.