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Cleveland: Union Terminal (Tower City)

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Discussion of Cleveland Union Terminal (Tower City Center).....


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- Lady Liberty

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Was the Shorty's building the trainshed, then?  That was demolished sometime in the last few years.  Where's the depot?

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The state could have taken over the operation of this train at 100% federal funding for the first year, but it was committed to roads and was not interested. The high speed zealots out there at the time (Wilkowski & Co.) were not interested either, as the train did not fit their idea of high speed rail.

 

Thus, the train came off, Cleveland Union Terminal was abandoned and the railroad itself ripped up east of Mantua, a monumental loss and is unlikely to ever again be a passenger route. This stands as one of the most sordid chapters in Ohio's transportation history. Talk about myopia!!! :cry:

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I guess we can't cry over what we lost, but I do remember being in Cleveland in the early '70's and walking around what was the rail yards of Cleveland Terminal. The rails were still there, but were very rusty and the entire area was covered in a sea of weeds. The only trace of life was one track to the east and a platform used by the E-L commuter train to Youngstown. What a comedown for such a once-mighty facility!

 

I heard later that when the train did come off, Conrail was waiting with a work crew that ripped out the tracks immediately after the last train left. Of course, the platform area is now a parking deck, RTA has spread its tracks out at both ends of the station and now the Federal Court building sits at what was the west throat of the yard. We'll never get passenger trains in there again.

 

The only saving grace is that the lakefront location is a possibility, but even here, forces are at work which could jeopardize its usefulness.

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See aerial photo of the area here:

 

http://terraserver.microsoft.com/image.aspx?T=1&S=10&Z=17&X=2209&Y=22969&W=1&qs=West+3rd+and+Superior%7cCleveland%7cOhio%7c&Addr=W+3rd++W+Superior+Ave%2c+Cleveland%2c+OH+44113&ALon=-81.6954000&ALat=41.4988000

 

I'm speaking from solely an engineering perspective here, not necessarily a practical one:

 

Would it be possible to get rid of the two buildings by the Federal Justice Center (which would require buying out Sherwin-Williams-- probably impossible) and the stone building next to the draw bridge (an historical building, I know, but again, just speaking from an engineering perspective), then reconfigure Red Line bridge in order to bring tracks in there again? 

 

A very expensive proposition, I know, but it doesn't appear to be an engineering problem.  Or am I missing something?  When you consider that some urban freeway projects have cost as much as $120 million per mile, how far out of step would it be as far as cost?

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I found this interior shot of the Cleveland station, although it is for RTA trains, it's probably similiar to what the rest of the station looked like.  It was taken in the late 70's.  I wish I could have seen this city's passenger rail at it's peak...

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I didn't realize you were that hungry for any interior shots of Cleveland Union Terminal! I do have other interior shots of the railroad portion Cleveland Union Terminal -- I just don't have any of the E-L commuter train inside CUT.

 

So here's some views of Cleveland Union Terminal. Let's start outside and work our way in...

 

First, if you were on any of the 12-14 daily Erie passenger trains to/from Solon, Youngstown, Pittsburgh and New York City, or the six daily B&O trains to/from Akron, Youngstown, Pittsburgh and Washington DC, or the six daily Nickel Plate RR trains to/from Buffalo, or the 24 New York Central trains to/from Buffalo and New York Central.... this is the first hint that you were about to arrive at Cleveland Union Terminal. These are the east approach tracks to the station:

 

CUTEastapproachtracklevel1930.jpg

 

 

Some of the six station platforms and 12 tracks seen in 1930, shortly after the station opened:

 

CUTplatforms21930.jpg

 

 

West end of station:

 

CUTplatforms11930.jpg

 

 

East end of station (at left are Shaker RTS tracks):

 

CUTplatforms31930.jpg

 

 

One of the stairwells from track level to the station above:

 

CUTstairwell.jpg

 

 

Granted, these people are lining up in 1934 at CUT to see one of the many brand-new streamliners that will become common in the next decade or two. But, hey, it's a train at track level:

 

CUTtraininstation1934.jpg

 

 

These people are descending the stairwell from the station concourse to the track level so they can board New York Central's streamlined Mercury for Toledo and Detroit which rolled at 90 mph in some sections:

 

CUT_passengers_for_Mercury-s.jpg

 

 

No escalators were available as of July 17, 1945 to get from track level to the station concourse above, when a Cleveland newspaper published this cartoon urging the installation of escalators.  CUT was owned by a private company, the Cleveland Union Terminals Co., which could not afford to maintain the massive station complex despite the high usage fees assessed against the private railroads. CUT finally bowed to public pressure, adding them only to two stairwells and then only for travelers going up from track level.

 

CUTneedforstairs071745.jpg

 

 

Here is CUT's main concourse in 1930 when it was brand new. This view is looking north towards the rapid transit concourses and Public Square. The stairwells are in the middle of the floor:

 

CUTmainconcourseN1930.jpg

 

 

Main concourse looking south toward the Cuyahoga River in 1930:

 

CUTmainconcourseS1930.jpg

 

 

A south view in the main concourse in 1969 (remember the huge Welcome to Cleveland" mural?):

 

CUT_Concourse_5-3-69s.jpg

 

 

Looking north in 1980, on Cleveland Union Terminal's 50th anniversary:

 

CUT_Concourse_1980s.jpg

 

 

For those of you too young to remember Cleveland Union Terminal before it was completely reconfigured as Tower City Center, this how things were arranged prior to 1990:

 

CUTfloorplan1s.jpg

 

CUTcutaway1s.jpg

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"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- Lady Liberty

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There's at least a half-dozen books on Cleveland Union Terminal, and several of those images were scanned from books about CUT or trains that served CUT.


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- Lady Liberty

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I think it's at the Western Reserve Historical Society.


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- Lady Liberty

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Look how well dressed everyone is in those photos.  People now ride airplanes in sandals and cut offs.

I've heard the mural is at the Western reserve Historical Society, but I wish they would put that somewhere it would have more relavence.  Put it at the Airport, or even back into Tower City somewhere.  Such a cool mural, made out of coated porcelin.  Really exudes the industrial muscle of the city.

On a weird note, I've owned the book "The Terminal Tower Complex, 1980" for many years, and for whatever reason the book smells like the station used to smell before it was renovated to Tower City.  I was only 7 when they started tearing up the station, but I swear that's what it smells like.  Maybe I'm out of my mind, whatever.

Nice pics though.

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OK, here's a couple more photos (thanks to the late Dave McKay) of a train that last ran 30 years ago today. Hard to believe it's been that long. Thanks to BuckeyeB and others for pointing out the losses that transcended the loss of this train (including most of the railroad line it used from Cleveland to Youngstown -- as well as the access to Cleveland Union Terminal).

 

May 1971 wasn't kind to the U.S. passenger rail industry. On May 1, Amtrak took over for the private railroads and, overnight, the U.S. lost half of its passenger trains. Cleveland went from 16 daily trains to two -- the eastbound and westbound Erie-Lackawanna commuter train. Here's the commuter leaving downtown Cleveland shortly after 5:20 p.m. on a May 1971 afternoon for Youngstown, paralleling the CTS and Shaker rapid tracks:

 

E-L_Commuter_skyline_May1971s.jpg

 

In the early 1970s, once you got east of Solon, you were in the countryside. My family moved to Bainbridge (one mile from the E-L line and Geauga Lake) in 1978, and it was still very rural back then. Today, it's McMansionland. East of Aurora toward Mantua, it was even more rural, and still is to some extent today. The commuter train's heaviest ridership was always between Cleveland and Aurora, diminishing to a handful of passengers left on board by the time it reached Youngstown. Here is the commuter train, zipping eastbound at 70 mph (track speed) by a water-filled sand quarry next to the intersection of Mennonite and Infirmary roads, between Aurora and Mantua, on May 12, 1972:

 

E-L_commuter_Mantua_5-12-72s.jpg


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- Lady Liberty

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ah thanks for the pre-tower city terminal tower i well remember. my best memory was when i got a fake id there - hehe! glad to hear the mural still survives, although it should have stayed up in the mall there somewhere.

 

funny ive been looking at tokyo stations and info all day while watching football, we are going this summer. this thread is a sad followup. our government just cant seem to see the relationship between a healthy region and fantastic public transit.

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I think the mural should be incorporated into the interior design of whatever station facility is built in Cleveland to serve the Ohio Hub and future commuter trains. 

 

I think the same thing should be done with the surviving arch from the exterior of the demolished Columbus Union Station.

 

At the very least, it acknowledges our history and the mistakes of the past.

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I think the mural should be incorporated into the interior design of whatever station facility is built in Cleveland to serve the Ohio Hub and future commuter trains. 

 

I think the same thing should be done with the surviving arch from the exterior of the demolished Columbus Union Station.

 

At the very least, it acknowledges our history and the mistakes of the past.

 

wasn't that what the 670 cap was designed for? (har har)

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Hey Noozer! That's a terrific idea to use the mural and the arch also!! Let's not forget that. Maybe we can have a "Hall of Shame" to commemorate all the stupid things we've done over the last 50 years. :roll:

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Hey Noozer! That's a terrific idea to use the mural and the arch also!! Let's not forget that. Maybe we can have a "Hall of Shame" to commemorate all the stupid things we've done over the last 50 years. :roll:

 

you guys can put them all inside of Detroit's Michigan Central Station

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KJP, thanks for the great pics!  As a 20-something, my earliest memory of CUT was during the Tower City renovation.  I have always been curious to know what it looked like when it was an actual train station.

 

Would it be possible to get rid of the two buildings by the Federal Justice Center (which would require buying out Sherwin-Williams-- probably impossible) and the stone building next to the draw bridge (an historical building, I know, but again, just speaking from an engineering perspective), then reconfigure Red Line bridge in order to bring tracks in there again?

 

While I'm not a railway engineer, per se, I worked on a feasibility study on the elevated rail structures in the train shed at Richmond (VA) Main Street Station (1901).  There had been some intentional destruction of the structure in the 1980s, not to mention 105 years of deterioration.  The results of our analysis showed that even if restored to the original design, the structures would not be capable of supporting the loads of a modern passenger train.

 

Back when the Red Line bridge was built (anyone have a date???), train design loads were much lower.  I suspect that you would have to undertake significant structural reinforcement of the bridge to carry a modern passenger train, to the point where it would probably be cheaper to build a new bridge from scratch. 

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... Back when the Red Line bridge was built (anyone have a date???), ...

 

The "Red Line" bridge was built as part of the Terminal Tower project, and completed about 1929, I think. It was the western approach to Union Terminal for mainline passenger trains. Although steam locomotives didn't run into the terminal, the electric locomotives that pulled passenger trains through the terminal were pretty massive and many of the railroads still ran six-axle heavyweight cars as sleepers and parlor cars during the era that the bridge was in mainline service.

 

I would expect that it would be up to the task, provided it's structurally sound and up to its design specs.

 

Here's a shot from when things were at their lovliest, in 1979. It looks like the bridge is wide enough to have carried three tracks. You can see one end of the pre-tower-city concourse in this photo.

w_rr_appr_to_term_tower_1979.jpg

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I would expect that it would be up to the task, provided it's structurally sound and up to its design specs.

 

See my point above.  If I had to render a professional opinion, I would say the bridge as-is is inadequate for supporting a modern passenger train.  One must also consider that in that time period, there were no design considerations for fatigue of the structure due to cyclic loading, which is now required unless the Structural Engineer of Record wants to lose his license should something go wrong. 

 

There are other implications as well, in the design loads for lurching (longitudinal) and tracking (lateral) loads.  The nature of railroad bridge design involves a whole slew of dynamic considerations, and when you increase the base design load to modern loading (per the American Railway Engineers Association), the dynamic loads are magnfied as well.  The combination of increased stresses can quickly overcome an outdated design.

 

 

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I'll bet the bridge is still suitable for passenger trains. It has been in continuous and well maintained and was recently rehabilitated for about $22 million. I think you should look at the bridge from below to determine its condition. There are numerous steel and concrete bridges around Greater Cleveland that are less substantial yet carry loaded coal trains (each loaded coal car weighs up to 125 tons).

 

And, actually, steam locomotives did operate into Cleveland Union Terminal on a fairly regular basis, including New York Central's massive Niagara locomotives that probably weighed 200 tons (nearly twice the weight of today's heaviest freight cars loaded). New York Central's "Mercury" between Cleveland and Detroit routinely kept its steam locomotive to avoid the time spent switching electric for steam at Linndale, and vice-versa upon its return in the afternoon. Here's a rendering, but accurate:

 

NYC%20Mercury%20CUT%201930s%20small.jpg

 

I also have a book showing a Nickel Plate RR freight train hauled by a large Berkshire steam locomotive detouring via CUT due to a derailment. I'll scan it sometime and post it. It's pretty cool to see.

 

And, yes, passenger trains could physically return to CUT, but at a price. It would require rerouting the Red Line north on or under West 25th to Detroit Avenue, then on the subway deck of the Detroit-Superior high-level bridge, and then enter CUT with a short crossover. Also, the Waterfront Line's inbound ramp to Tower City would have to be kept at a lower level for a little longer distance (250 feet?) so passenger train tracks could travel above it.


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- Lady Liberty

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And, yes, passenger trains could physically return to CUT, but at a price. It would require rerouting the Red Line north on or under West 25th to Detroit Avenue, then on the subway deck of the Detroit-Superior high-level bridge, and then enter CUT with a short crossover. Also, the Waterfront Line's inbound ramp to Tower City would have to be kept at a lower level for a little longer distance (250 feet?) so passenger train tracks could travel above it.

 

This is what I thought.  It's not an engineering problem, it's one of price and institutional barriers, plus an important operating consideration:  at one point some years ago, Amtrak said that using CUT would increase the running time of the Lake Shore Limited by 1/2 hour. 

 

It's a shame it was lost, but at this point, we're probably better off with pursuing the Lakefront Bypass and building a nice, new station (possibly along with an expanded convention center) at its current location.

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A fantasy - flesh out more of the Burnham Group Plan with the proposed Union Depot. The site overlooks the location of the present Amtrak station:

 

(image linked from CSU site, http://www.csuohio.edu/CUT/UT1903.jpg)

UT1903.jpg

 

I either forgot or never knew about the Mercury running into CUT under steam. Imagine that -- someone actually cared about keeping a tight passenger schedule! I wonder what sort of hoops they had to jump through to get permission to run steam through there.

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They would back the Mercury into the western side of the station just far enough that the steam locomotive was outside of the station. That way, the soot wouldn't get into the station.


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- Lady Liberty

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I wonder if anyone still has blueprints of the Burnham-designed station?  Sure would be nice to built such a beautiful building for the Ohio Hub.... or at least something in keeping with his design, but with some modern touches.

 

 

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Haven't I seen renderings of a proposed civic center / convention center facility that would span the tracks and run down to the lakefront in the area of the present Amtrak station? I envision a handsome structure at the end of the mall with a neoclassical-derived design facing the mall and a glassed-in facade and atrium on the north side giving a view of the lakefront, with escalators and elevators going down to track level.

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Haven't I seen renderings of a proposed civic center / convention center facility that would span the tracks and run down to the lakefront in the area of the present Amtrak station? I envision a handsome structure at the end of the mall with a neoclassical-derived design facing the mall and a glassed-in facade and atrium on the north side giving a view of the lakefront, with escalators and elevators going down to track level.

 

yes, there were renderings. that would or could happen if the old convention center, partly under the mall there, is chosen to be redeveloped (versus building an all new cc behind tower city). fingers crossed!

 

 

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Rob_1412 says:

 

"I envision a handsome structure at the end of the mall with a neoclassical-derived design facing the mall and a glassed-in facade and atrium on the north side giving a view of the lakefront, with escalators and elevators going down to track level."

 

Well now I need to take a trip to Cleveland to look at the area!

 

I like the idea of a neoclassical building fronting the mall, harmoniously blending with City Hall and other buildings as Rob_1412 suggests. The beauty of this idea is that in one stroke we connect the lakefront with downtown, tying in the convention center and have a world-class entrance to Cleveland.

 

KJP and I discussed things like this a while back and I think it's an idea that makes sense. By tying all these things together, we can spread the costs also. KJP, didn't you have a diagram of this idea?

 

Terrific idea!! :clap:

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And, yes, passenger trains could physically return to CUT, but at a price. It would require rerouting the Red Line north on or under West 25th to Detroit Avenue, then on the subway deck of the Detroit-Superior high-level bridge, and then enter CUT with a short crossover. Also, the Waterfront Line's inbound ramp to Tower City would have to be kept at a lower level for a little longer distance (250 feet?) so passenger train tracks could travel above it.

 

It's ashame planners lacked the vision to possibly restore commuter/Amtrak trains back to their natural terminal at Tower City by RTA's (on the Cuyahoga viaduct) and the Stokes Fed Court building's blocking such (what!? Cleveland lack courage and vision toward public transit??? no!!)... Unfortunately, the above scenario which would screw around with the Rapid is unacceptable.  Such re-routing the Red Line would result in surface running along W. 25 for the airport line, and that would simply be stupid ... Better to focus on developing the North Coast station near where Dan Burnham originally projected it...

 

... btw gildone, do you have any insight on the Lakefront freight bypass you alluded to which could free up tracks for commuter even Rapid rail?

 

 

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Yes, I have one, as well as a conceptual proposal by the city for the convention center/intermodal station over the tracks. I'll see if I can find it sometime, but I wouldn't post it here to make futile attempt to get this thread back on topic.


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- Lady Liberty

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Looking north toward the lake from the location for Burnham's proposed Union Terminal:

 

20040904-074.jpg

 

20040904-076.jpg

 

20040904-075.jpg

 

The view that would greet passengers as they leave the station at mall level (assuming Cleveland would have trains that arrive in daylight :wink:):

 

20040904-077.jpg

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^looks like space for about 8 tracks + platforms (besides the 2 RTA tracks).  An overhead, multi-modal-transfer station with escalators, elevators and TOD/air-rights development seems like exactly what the doctor ordered for this location.

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You could probably have four tracks with no problem, which would be plenty. The two nearest tracks are the NS main and they would surely object to their use as a part of a passenger station.

 

So in order, going north to south you'd have:

 

2 RTA tracks====================================

 

1 station track (now a mostly unused siding)------------------------------

        Existing platform

1 Existing track (currently used by Amtrak)-----------------------------------

1 Reconstructed former Conrail main track, now CSX------------------------

        New platform

1 New track in area between CSX and NS tracks-----------------------------

 

2 NS mainline tracks================================

 

Pardon my primitive diagram.... :-D

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... btw gildone, do you have any insight on the Lakefront freight bypass you alluded to which could free up tracks for commuter even Rapid rail?

 

Well, I was alluding to KJP's Lakefront Bypass study that he did a couple of years ago.  So technically, all the insight is his  :-D

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