A Super Day in Cleveland

Cleveland Water Tower
Cleveland Water Tower

I recently made a trip up to Cleveland to visit family in Little Italy (see the post about the Little Italy neighborhood HERE).  While there, I got to spend a day with my sister and her husband visiting sites in and around Cleveland as well as a few small treks on my own.  With the challenge of only a couple of days, I made it a point to visit some of the quirky and offbeat sites as well as a couple of historic things.  We saw a good deal of Cleveland and also visited the Kirtland area, which will be added to a different post.

A Lake Erie sunrise as caught from the Kenneth J. Sims park
A Lake Erie sunrise as caught from the Kenneth J. Sims park in Euclid, OH
Canadian Geese fly low over Lake Erie
Canadian Geese fly low over Lake Erie

I started off one of my mornings by going to Lake Erie at Kenneth J. Sims Park in Euclid, which is right on the lake and offers some nice views.  It is also home to the Henn Mansion Historical Site.  and getting some marvelous photos of the sunrise over the lake and saw some geese and a blue heron. Those that follow my blogs and Facebook posts know that I love nature as much as I like traveling and seeing quirky sites.

Welcome to Euclid
Welcome to Euclid
At the house that used to be the home of Jerry Siegel, the Creator of the Superman stories
At the house that used to be the home of Jerry Siegel, the Creator of the Superman stories

I next made my way into Cleveland to go visit the “birthplace” of Superman. In the 1930s, teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, both of whom went to the same Glenville High School and both had the same love of science fiction stories, either as novels or comic strips, and even lived only a couple of blocks apart, created a comic book hero named Superman. Siegel ended up writing the original stories and then Shuster would put them into comic book form. (See a more complete story about these two HERE.)

Jerry Siegel's former home in Cleveland. This was the real birthplace of Superman.
Jerry Siegel’s former home in Cleveland. This was the real birthplace of Superman.
A plaque in front of the Jerry Siegel house gives the history of his work.
A plaque in front of the Jerry Siegel house gives the history of his work.
Superman Street signs at the corner of Kimberley and Parkwood in Cleveland - Jerry Siegel Lane and Lois Lane
Superman Street signs at the corner of Kimberley and Parkwood in Cleveland – Jerry Siegel Lane and Lois Lane
Urban decay is rampant in the neighborhood where Superman was born
Urban decay is rampant in the neighborhood where Superman was born

Nowadays, the neighborhood is actually kind of a scary part of Cleveland. It has suffered a great amount of urban decay as some of these photos below indicate. But the neighborhood and the street that Superman memorial is on, is generally well-kept. It is a predominantly African-American neighborhood now and the people in this neighborhood take good care of their homes despite the age of the buildings.

Sad state of housing in this aging part of Cleveland
Sad state of housing in this aging part of Cleveland
Amor St. has become Joe Shuster Lane. It too is on Parkwood (known also as Lois Lane)
Amor St. has become Joe Shuster Lane. It too is on Parkwood (known also as Lois Lane)
Story of Superman at Joe Shuster's former home
Story of Superman at Joe Shuster’s former home

Both the house that Superman was “born” in and then Joe Shuster’s house as well have a big superman S on the front of the fence along with a big plaque commemorating the history of Superman and the stories of Jerry and Joe. Obviously, when you think about Metropolis for Superman, or Gotham City for Batman, the cities are old and dark much like New York, Chicago or even cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Action Comics blowups at Joe Schuster Home
Action Comics blowups at Joe Schuster Home
Parkwood has become Lois Lane
Parkwood has become Lois Lane

I got a chuckle out of the street names for both the street that Superman “the story” was created (Kimberley) and then Superman “the comic book character” (Amor) was drawn. In both cases they have street signs with the original names of the artists. And both streets come off of Parkwood, also known as “Lois Lane.”

Laurienzo Family
Breakfast with my Laurienzo sisters, brother and cousins. A great reunion!!
Alfredo'sAfter my visit to the Superman sites, I joined much of my Laurienzo family for a big breakfast at a place called Alfredo’s at the Inn in Mayfield Village.   Though known for their Italian Cuisine in the evenings, they also have a nice breakfast menu and buffet.  It is really a good place for big groups like ours.
Riding with Tina and Jim around Cleveland
Riding with Tina and Jim around Cleveland

After a nice breakfast, my sister Tina and her husband Jim took me on a grand tour of Cleveland including Downtown and some of the surrounding areas.  It was nice to spend an extended time with them and get to know them better.  My sister Tina, the second oldest, always seems to have a bright shiny countenance.  Jim is also lots of fun.

Cleveland Skyline
Cleveland Skyline
Downtown Cleveland
Downtown Cleveland

Cleveland is an old industrial city and thus there are many old buildings and lots of old housing districts. There is the old steel mill section that is now been refurbished in there trying to use it as a shopping or entertainment district now.  And, being both a Lake Town (Lake Erie) and a River Town (the 100 mile long Cuyahoga River — the river is famous for having been so polluted that it “caught fire” in 1969. The event helped to spur the environmental movement in the US.),  there are many bridges dotting the city.

Cleveland is a city of bridges
Cleveland is a city of bridges – including the blue Main Avenue Bridge and the Detroit-Superior Bridge, also known as the Veterans Memorial Bridge
Entrance to the Hope Memorial Bridge which I visited on a different trip.
Entrance to the Hope Memorial Bridge which I visited on a different trip. The Art Deco “Guardians of Traffic” adorn this bridge.
One of the massive sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge
One of the massive sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge

The two Art Deco style sandstone sculptures on the bridge (shown above), known as the “Guardians of Traffic,” were created by New York sculptor Henry Hering.  There are actually eight of them. They were completed in 1932 and were named by the bridge’s engineer, Wilbur Watson.   Each guardian holds a different ground vehicle.The Cleveland Magazine had a very nice writeup about the Guardians in a post in 2009.  It is worth a read and can be seen HERE.

 

Arches of the Detroit-Superior Bridge
Arches of the Detroit-Superior Bridge
Steel Span of Detroit-Superior Bridge
Steel Span of Detroit-Superior Bridge

I have always been fascinated by bridges, especially large viaduct types of bridges.  Cleveland has a couple of these.  The Detroit–Superior Bridge (officially known as the Veterans Memorial Bridge) is a 3,112 foot long through arch bridge over the Cuyahoga River. Construction began in 1914 and the bridge was completed in 1918.  At its completion, the bridge was the largest steel and concrete reinforced bridge in the world.

An alternate view of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland
An alternate view of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland
Steel Structure of the Main Avenue Bridge in Cleveland
Steel Structure of the Main Avenue Bridge in Cleveland

Until 2007, the Main Avenue Bridge was the longest bridge in the state. Though no longer the longest, the bridge  is still considered to be the longest historic bridge in Ohio. The total structure length of this historic bridge including ramps is 8000 Feet The bridge’s clearance over the river is 100 Feet.This bridge is a significant example of a deck cantilever structure, and represents a significant engineering achievement of the time. Five people were killed during the construction of this bridge.

MainAveBridge
Main Avenue Bridge in Cleveland
One of many Lift Bridges in Cleveland
One of many Lift Bridges in Cleveland

DSC_3742The city is also a treasure trove of some unique statues and monuments.  Most notable is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. This monument to Civil War soldiers and sailors from Cuyahoga County is located in the southeast quadrant of Public Square in downtown Cleveland.  It was opened on July 4, 1894. It was designed by architect Levi Scofield, who also created the monument’s sculptures.

One of four bronze statues that surround the monument. Called "At Short Range" it is a representation of the Artillery Group
One of four bronze statues that surround the monument. Called “At Short Range” it is a representation of the Artillery Group
Looking up at the Lady Liberty 125 Feet High
Looking up at the Lady Liberty 125 Feet High
 I never knew about this amazing monument.  The monument consists of a 125-foot black granite shaft erected on a square base constructed of rough-hewn granite blocks trimmed in sandstone and housing a memorial building. The shaft divided by six carved bands which list the names of battles in which Cuyahoga soldiers fought and is topped with a bronze statue of the “Goddess of Liberty” signifying loyalty to United States. Four bronze groupings at its base depict the four branches of the Union Army— the Navy, Cavalry, Infantry, and Artillery.
A portion of The Color Guard - which is a representation of the Infantry group.
A portion of The Color Guard – which is a representation of the Infantry group.
Following are a few more photos from the monument —
Eagle on the Monument
Eagle on the Monument
"Mortar Practice" represents the Navy Group. In this sculpture, an officer and five men are loading a mortar, preparing to fire upon enemy entrenchments.
“Mortar Practice” represents the Navy Group. In this sculpture, an officer and five men are loading a mortar, preparing to fire upon enemy entrenchments.

DSC_3761DSC_3776

Marble Tablet with names of soldiers
Marble Tablet with names of soldiers

Inside the memorial building are a series of marble tablets listing 10,000 Civil War veterans that served with Cuyahoga County regiments or were from Cuyahoga County.

 

Liberty at top of monument
Liberty at top of monument
Lincoln Bronze Relief representing the end of the Civil War.
Lincoln Bronze Relief representing the end of the Civil War.
Sumoflam with Bronze Relief of Emancipation
Sumoflam with Bronze Relief of Emancipation

Also in the building,  above the tablets, on the east and west walls are the bronze busts of officers who were killed in action. Above the north side door is the bust of General James Barnett, and above the south side door is Captain Levi T. Scofield. The foundation of the column centers the room. On each of the four sides are bronze relief statues portraying the Beginning of the War in Ohio, The Emancipation of the Slave, the Northern Ohio Soldiers’ Aid Society, Sanitary Commission, and Hospital Service Corps, and The End of the War.

One of a number of Stained Glass Windows as seen from inside the monument
One of a number of Stained Glass Windows as seen from inside the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument
Another of the Stained Glass Windows in the monument
Another of the Stained Glass Windows in the monument
Sumoflam at the Fountain of Eternal Life
Sumoflam at the Fountain of Eternal Life

Just a couple of blocks from there is the Peace Memorial Statue. Better known as the Fountain of Eternal Life, and sometimes also called the War Memorial Fountain and Peace Arising from the Flames of War, this statue and fountain was designed by Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Marshall Fredericks and dedicated on May 30, 1964. The sculpture, which honors Cleveland residents who served, died, or were declared missing in military service, is situated on Veterans’ Memorial Plaza as part of the Cleveland Mall. The centerpiece is a 35-foot tall bronze figure representing a man escaping from the flames of war and reaching skyward for eternal peace. The bronze sphere from which the figure rises represents Earth. There are also four granite carvings, each representing the geographic civilizations of the world and these are placed around the sphere. The entire structure, including the base, is about 46 feet tall which ranks it as one of America’s 50 tallest statues.

Cleveland's Fountain of Eternal Life
Cleveland’s Fountain of Eternal Life
Another view of Cleveland's War Memorial Fountain
Another view of Cleveland’s War Memorial Fountain
A portion of one of the granite carvings that surround the base of the fountain
A portion of one of the granite carvings that surround the base of the fountain
Another of the granite carvings
Another of the granite carvings
Sumoflam at the Christmas Story House in Cleveland
Sumoflam at the Christmas Story House in Cleveland

We soon left the downtown area to make our way to the neighborhood of another iconic, yet quirky, location. The 1983 movie “A Christmas Story” was filmed in Cleveland and they now have created a gift store (see their website HERE), turned the house into a memorial, and the famous leg lamp is shown prominently throughout. Some of the old cars that were in the movie and other things are all in the store and it was a lot of fun to go visit a site of a movie that I watched with my children in the 1980s and now with my grandchildren.  A Christmas Story is certainly one of those classic Christmas movies for the family.

Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story. Now anyone can get one!
Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story. Now anyone can get one!
The Famed Red Ryeder bb gun -- you'll shoot your eye out!!
The Famed Red Ryder BB gun — you’ll shoot your eye out!!
A view of the inside of the A Christmas Story Gift Shop
A view of the inside of the A Christmas Story Gift Shop
The House from the 1983 movie A Christmas Story
The House from the 1983 movie A Christmas Story
Cleveland's Playhouse Square Chandelier
Cleveland’s Playhouse Square Chandelier

To continue the “quirky” stops, we next visited Cleveland’s Theater District, known also as Playhouse Square, to visit the “World’s Largest Outdoor Chandelier” which adorns the corner of 14th Avenue and Euclid.  The chandelier is 20 feet tall and has 4,200 crystals (actually made from acrylic resin)  on it.  Playhouse Square is considered the largest performing arts center in the United States outside of New York. The entire square looks like a fun place to visit in the evenings when the theaters are all live and active and the chandelier is all lit up.

Cleveland's Playhouse Square
Cleveland’s Playhouse Square
Cleveland's State Theatre
Cleveland’s State Theatre
Cleveland's Ohio Theatre
Cleveland’s Ohio Theatre
Another view of Cleveland's famed Chandelier
Another view of Cleveland’s famed Chandelier
Sumoflam and the FREE Stamp in Cleveland
Sumoflam and the FREE Stamp in Cleveland

Of course, if looking for the offbeat and quirky, one cannot miss out on another Cleveland’s iconic “sculptures,” that being the giant FREE Rubber Stamp. Located in Cleveland’s Willard Park, near the Harbor and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this large sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen is 28 ft. 10 in. x 26 ft. x 49 ft and made of steel and aluminum.  It was commissioned in 1982 and installed in October 1991.  Oldenburg and van Bruggen are well-known for their large scale sculptures of everyday items (See a gallery of them HERE).  I had the opportunity to visit their Shuttlecocks sculptures in Kansas City in 2010 (see the link HERE).

Oldenburg and van Bruggen's FREE Stamp in Willard Park, Cleveland
Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s FREE Stamp in Willard Park, Cleveland

Throughout our travels this day, I also snapped a variety of other shots around Cleveland.  There are a few murals, some unique shopping districts, interesting storefronts and more.  Here is a small collection of scenes from Cleveland.

Old Bowling Neon Sign
Old Bowling Neon Sign
Cleveland's Steelyard Commons
Cleveland’s Steelyard Commons
Cleveland Fire Memorial
Cleveland Fire Memorial honors Cleveland Fire Fighters that died in the line of duty
Bar Louie in Cleveland
Bar Louie in Cleveland
Mural in The Flats District of Cleveland
Mural in The Flats District of Cleveland
Statue of Leif Erickson
Statue of Leif Erickson  – made by the Riverdog Foundry in Seattle and based on the statue by August Werner.  This is located in the Flats District
Rock and Roll Blvd. in Cleveland
Rock and Roll Blvd. in Cleveland
Dendrite by Olga Ziemska located in the Tremont District of Cleveland.
“Dendrite” by Olga Ziemska located in the Tremont District of Cleveland. (see more HERE)
One of many colorful guitars that can be found throughout the city
One of many colorful guitars that can be found throughout the city
Lucky's Cafe in Clevelend
Lucky’s Cafe in Cleveland
Large Mural in downtown Cleveland
Large Mural in downtown Cleveland
Key Tower (R - 947 feet) and Terminal Tower (L - 771 feet)
Key Tower (R – 947 feet) is the tallest building in Ohio and 23rd tallest in the US and Terminal Tower (L – 771 feet)
Welcome to Tremont District signs
Welcome to Tremont District signs
A portion of three murals under a bridge in Cleveland
A portion of three murals under a bridge in Cleveland
Shang Hai Trading in the Asian District of Cleveland
Shang Hai Trading in the Asian District of Cleveland
Professor Market wall advertisement...located in the Tremont District
Professor Market wall advertisement…located in the Tremont District
Statue of Swedish Botanist Carl von Linne
Statue of Swedish Botanist Carl von Linne outside the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
A Dinosaur Sighting outside the Cleveland Museum of Natural history
A Dinosaur Sighting outside the Cleveland Museum of Natural history
Professor and Jefferson in Tremont District of Cleveland
Professor and Jefferson in Tremont District of Cleveland
A nicely painted bus in the Hessler Road area of Cleveland
A nicely painted bus in the Hessler Road area of Cleveland
Progressive Field, Home of the Cleveland Indians
Progressive Field, Home of the Cleveland Indians
Unique Garbage Cans
Unique Garbage Cans
Progressive Stadium, Home of the Cleveland Indians
FirstEnergy Stadium, Home of the Cleveland Browns
Buildings of Cleveland seen behind the glass pyramid of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Buildings of Cleveland seen behind the glass pyramid of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland
The Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland

To end the day, Tina, Jim and I stopped for a late lunch and then headed towards Little Italy again to visit the famous Lake View Cemetery – a 265 acre memorial park and also home to the 180 foot tall monument to James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States and also the Rockefeller Monument and the Wade Chapel.The Garfield Monument sits on top of a hill and at one time one could look out over all of Cleveland.  Now you need to go to the second floor balcony to catch a five-mile view of downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie.

Gargoyles on Garfield Monument
Gargoyles on Garfield Monument
Statue of Garfield
Statue of Garfield
Garfield Statue inside Garfield Monument
Garfield Statue inside Garfield Monument
Part of a larger mural on the dome of the monument
Part of a larger mural on the dome of the monument

Cleveland is a fascinating city and is certainly well worth a visit.  My next visit will include more than a couple of days as there is so much to see in this lovely city….my birthplace.

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