History of the Central Viaduct

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Sat, 03/18/2006 - 18:07.

 

The CENTRAL VIADUCT, built between 1887-88, was a high-level bridge that linked the east and west sides of Cleveland. It stood where the Innerbelt Bridge (I-90) is now located. In Mar. 1879 Councilman Jas. M. Curtiss introduced a resolution asking that the city engineer undertake to determine the best site for a bridge linking downtown with neighborhoods southwest of Cleveland across the CUYAHOGA RIVER.


The Central Viaduct spans the Cuyahoga River, ca. 1910. WRHS.

The resolution met with some opposition and was not passed until 1883. The council authorized an expenditure of $1 million, and ground was finally broken in May 1887. The city engineer's office furnished the design and construction specifications, and the KING IRON BRIDGE & MANUFACTURING CO. was contracted to do most of the construction. Check out the online King Bridge Co. Museum (http://www.kingbridgeco.com/). Opened on 2 Dec. 1888, the Central Viaduct consisted of 2 bridges. The first structure, known as the Central Viaduct, was 2,839' long and extended from Jennings Ave. (W. 14th) to Central Ave. (Carnegie). Known as a "stilt" type, the bridge consisted of a series of braced towers and deck spans of varying lengths. Originally it had a swing section over the river to allow taller ships to pass, which was replaced in 1912 with an overhead truss. The roadway was approx. 100' above the river. On the night of 16 Nov. 1895, a safety switch failed while the draw was open, causing a streetcar to plunge into the river; 17 people were killed. Closed as unsafe in 1941, the main bridge was razed for scrap iron during World War II. The second bridge, known as the Walworth Run section, was 1,088' long and connected Abbey Ave. to Lorain Ave. at W. 25th. It continued in use until 1986, when a new Abbey Ave. bridge was begun to replace

it.http://ech.cwru.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=CV

A new Central Market situated near the banks of the CUYAHOGA RIVER and Pittsburgh St. was authorized by the city council in 1858, replacing the Michigan St. market which was torn down and rebuilt on the new site. Many objected to the CENTRAL MARKET's out-of-the-way location, and it was slow to fill. Although farmers contended that they had the right to sell their goods on any public ground, an ordinance passed in 1859 provided that all selling from wagons must be done from the market grounds. Vendors defied the law, but protest gradually subsided, and the Central Market became well established as the city's major marketing center. A new Central Market containing 100 stalls for fish, meat, and vegetables was completed on Ontario St. between Bolivar and Eagle streets in 1867. The same year, city council authorized construction of a small market house in the 5th Ward, at the corner of St. Clair and Nevada streets, but by 1874 it was used only irregularly and was abandoned by 1900. The 45-stall Newburgh Market (later called the Broadway Market) operated at Broadway and Canton Ave. from Dec. 1879 until 1963.

http://ech.cwru.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=MAMH

GRAYS ARMORY, built by Cleveland's long-standing private military company, the CLEVELAND GRAYS, has served not only as a meeting lodge and assembly hall for that group but also as a stage for a wide variety of events. Designed by Cleveland architect Fenimore C. Bate, the armory was built on Bolivar St. at Prospect Ave. The cornerstone was laid on Decoration Day, 1893. The structure is appropriate for the Grays, who provided trained men for military service and served as honor guards at local, state, and national functions. A military fortress is suggested by a 5-story tower with rows of progressively smaller windows and a turreted cap, and the stone foundation at the street level surmounted by massive brick walls. The interior contains offices and meeting rooms at the front and a large drill hall at the rear. The armory's drill hall not only was used for training and assemblies of the Grays but was and still is rented out for various social and cultural affairs. Programs for the 1896 Cleveland Centennial were held there, and performers such as opera star Emma Calve appeared, along with popular revues and touring companies. In 1918 it hosted the first concert of the newly formed CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA. As more elaborate theaters and halls were opened, fewer performances were held at the armory. However, in the 1970s the Western Reserve Theater Organ Society installed and refurbished a large Wurlitzer theater pipe organ in the drill hall and concerts were given regularly. Funds were made available in 1988-89 to establish a library of American military history there. A director of activities continues to promote use of the armory facilities by outside groups. Recent events include rare book sales, political rallies, and rock concerts. The Cleveland Grays continued to operate from the armory on Bolivar Rd. into the 1990s.

http://ech.cwru.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=GA1

COBURN & BARNUM was an architectural firm active in Cleveland from 1878-97. Forrest A. Coburn (1848-l Dec. 1897) and FRANK SEYMOUR BARNUM† formed a partnership in 1878. The Furniture Block and the Blackstone Bldg. were 2 of their most important commercial buildings, built in 1881-82. The Blackstone in particular was a superior example of fire-resistant mill construction with a remarkable 4-story interior light court. Coburn & Barnum's churches included the First Congregational on Franklin Ave. and EUCLID AVE. CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH. Their residential commissions included homes for Wm. J. Morgan and Geo. Howe (later the VIXSEBOXSE GALLERY) on Euclid Ave., and the spectacular Washington H. Lawrence mansion (Bay View Hospital) in 1898. The firm's institutional and cultural buildings included the Medical School (1885-87) and Guilford College (1892) for Western Reserve Univ. and the OLNEY ART GALLERY on W. 14th St. (1893).

http://ech.cwru.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=CB7 

 

( categories: )

From CSU Library: History of Central Viaduct

From the CSU Special Collection on Bridges of Metropolitan Cleveland - http://web.ulib.csuohio.edu/SpecColl/bmc/bmcchap2.html#p31

The Old Central Viaduct

The Inner Belt Bridge (Interstate 90) stands approximately where Cleveland's second oldest viaduct -- the Central Viaduct -- once crossed the valleys of Walworth Run and the Cuyahoga River. As it was with the old Detroit-Superior Bridge, the Central Viaduct was debated pro and con for a decade before it was built, for the project met with vigorous opposition. Pressure urging construction of the bridge was brought to bear upon City Council by the South Side as early as March 1879, when Councilman James M. Curtiss introduced a resolution asking that the City Engineer report upon the best location for such a structure. But nothing was done until 1883, at which time the resolution was passed, and the council authorized an expenditure of a million dollars. In December 1885 the ordinance of construction was approved, bids were opened by November of 1886, and in May 0f 1887 ground was broken.

Its location was chosen to bring traffic from the southwest parts of the city to the downtown area. At its south end was a neighborhood which had long been called University Heights. (The present suburb of University Heights is a latter-day copy). A college had been started but lasted only a year; however, the existing street names in the area are reminders -- such as Professor, Literary and College. The neighborhood was fashionable be-

Page 32
cause it supposedly provided escape from malaria and from the chills and fever which were believed to have been caused by the marshy lowlands of Cleveland.

The contract provided for two bridges. The main structure known as the Central Viaduct, was 2,839 feet in length and extended from genteel Jennings Avenue (West 14th Street) to Central Avenue (Carnegie) on the East Side. The second bridge connected Abbey Avenue to Lorain Avenue at West 25th Street. The so-called Walworth Run section of 1,088 feet, which can be best be seen from Scranton Road, is still in daily use.."28 it is 70 feet wide and 76.5 feet above Scranton Road. Its iron and steel spans are supported by iron towers resting on masonry foundations. Its concrete mesh deck installed in 1930 belies the age of the underlying structure. The City Engineer's report of 1914 indicated that the "iron" had a tensile strength of 50,000 pounds per square inch, which may account for the long life." 29 The engineer in charge of the steel work was Frank Osborn (the founder of the Osborn Engineering Company). Both branches were constructed by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company.

The piers of the Central Viaduct were a masonry; the spans of the superstructure were steel trusses. Known as the "stilt" type, the bridge consisted of a serious of braced towers and deck spans of varying lengths. Originally it had a swing section over the river to permit the passing of high-masted ships. This was removed in 1912 after a streetcar accident. The bridge was then converted to a true high level by replacing the draw with an overhead truss. The roadway was 101 feet above the river, with a 40-foot vehicle lane and two sidewalks of eight feet each. Its costs was $675,000. The City Engineer's office furnished the design and construction specifications, with C.G. Force in charge in the beginning, followed by Walter W. Rice; W.W. Hughes was consultant in the design [Figure X].

Three years after approval of the ordinance of construction the bridge was opened on II December 1888. The steel trusses were draped with multicolored bunting and garlands of flowers. A parade of soldiers and civilians formed at 1 p.m. on Superior Avenue at Public Square, moved west across the old Superior Viaduct, then south along Pearl Street (West 25th Street) to Lorain; then it turned left across the New Abbey Street Bridge over Walworth Run to the western approach of the new bridge. There the procession stopped for the dedication. Zenas King, who started manufacturing Cleveland bridges in 1833, and took out one of the earliest patents on swing bridges, spoke for the King Iron Bridge Manufacturing Company. The first iron arch and swing bridges in northern Ohio were manufactured by this firm, founded in 1858. In 1871 the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company was organized by Zenas King, Thomas A. Reeve, A.B. Stone,

Page 33

Figure X. Central Viaduct showing the fixed span that replaced the old movable span.

Charles E. Barnard, Charles Crumb, Dan P. Eells, and Harry Chisholm. Under Harry King, the founder's son, the firm furnished structural and wrought iron work for most major building projects. In 1876 annual sales reached nearly a million. A nation-wide business developed. By 1886 bridges built by the firm, if placed end-to-end, would have extended more than 150 miles. ."30 And in 1893 the plant, located at East 69th Street and St. Clair Avenue, covered under one roof 155,000 square feet.

But to return to the opening ceremony of the Central Viaduct. Mayor Brenton D. Babcock accepted the bridge for the city. After this, the parade moved across the new bridge, to Central Avenue, turning north down Ontario Street to City Hall on Superior, where the city officials greeted the marchers. That evening, at the Hollenden Hotel, officials, governors, councilmen, congressmen, and distinguished citizens dined in grand style. After a banquet the assembly was addressed by Mayor Babcock, who read telegrams from illustrious persons unable to attend, among them being John D. Rockefeller, and the President of the United States. The bridge was described and presented to the city by Mr. Walter P. Rice, the City Engineer, the Honorable Joseph Foraker who spoke for the State of Ohio; Mr. M.M. Hobart for the city of Cleveland; Mr. James Curtiss for the Cleveland Short Line Railway; F.C. McMillan spoke for the militia; the Honorable George W. Gardner for Cleveland's industries; and the Honorable W.W. Armstrong on behalf of the press.

Page 34

But civic pride rose to even greater heights than it did in these oratorical speeches. It inspired poetry from the pen of a young newspaperman, W.R. Rose of The Sun and the Voice, who late joined the staff of the Plain Dealer, wrote and epic poem that described the old battle between the South and West Sides, of the city. (His son, W.G. Rose, wrote Cleveland, The Making of a City.)

 
    

Curtius at the Bridge

The doughty West Side fathers-
By all the gods they swore
That Curtius; bridge should never span
The smokey valley o'er;

They polished up their armor,
The bright war-paint they spread,
With sullen roar they rudely swore
To paint the South Side red.

Curtius is, of course, James Curtiss, the councilman who introduced the original resolution for the bridge. The poem proceeds to describe in bloody images how Curtius and Caius Caskey (another councilman named A.C. Caskey, also active in pushing the construction of the viaduct) defended their bridge and finally quelled all resistance from the opposition, saving the structure for the city. The verse, is, of course, a parody on the classic "Horatius at the Bridge", familiar to every schoolchild of that time.

 
    

They gathered in the Forum,
A dark and vengeful crowd,
And scoffed upon the Curtius' bridge
In speeches fierce and loud;
They claimed the bridge would ruin
Both Pearl Street and Lorain,
And so they fought the project
With fourfold might and main.

Up rose Horatius Curtius
And spake in haughty tones:
"Oh, craven dough heads that ye are,
I'll hold the bridge alone!
Now who will stand beside me,
Has no one got the sand?
"I have," cried Caius Caskey,
"Upon the right I'll stand."

Page 35

 
    

In columns dark and serried
On came the angry foe,
Alone stood Curt and Caskey,
To stem the warlike flow.
Upon the Heights, affrightened,
Ten thousand eyes looked down,
And watched in nervous dread to see
Who'd wear the victor's crown.

Loud laughed the West Side legions
To see the little band,
And cried, "You soon, must bite the dust
As on your heads you stand.'"
But loudly fearless Curtius
Cast back that laugh on scorn,
"O me an' Caskey here will make
You wish you ne'er were born!"

Fierce waged the awful battle,
A score against but two.
Until the Teuton Herman dropped
And from the fight withdrew;
Bold Quintius Morrison was next
To beat a swift retreat,
And C. Pompilus Ford arose
To say that he was best.

Like zigzag lightnings flying
The swords of Cask And Curt,
Where 'er they fell, they left a mark
And made the crimson spurt.
Like beaten wolves back shrank the foe,
In sullen tones they raved,
Until they scattered in dismay
And Curtius' bride was saved!

In coming generations when
Our chidren's children tell
The famous stories of the past --
The tales they love so well --
With cheering and with laughter
One deed they'll keep alive,
How well brave Curtius saved his bridge
In eighteen eighty-five.!."31

Page 36

But, spite of the gay dedication and festive spirit, the new viaduct soon became to be known as the "tragic" bridge It had not been long use before disaster struck. On a cold, dark and foggy night, 16 November 1895, a crowded streetcar plunged into the river. The draw had been opened to permit the passage of a tug, and the streetcar approached the span at a high rate of speed. A safety switch 150 feet from the draw was not working; parts of it had been removed for repairs. The motorman and one passenger saved themselves by jumping, but sixteen passengers and the conductor drowned. On 25 May 1914, disaster struck again; a section of the viaduct's wooden floor was burned during a fire in the lumber yard of Fisher and Wilson in the Flats below the bridge. Consequently the bridge was out of commission for a year. Then, later, an iron stairway from the lower level to the deck of the viaduct collapsed. A man on the stairs narrowly escaped death when his fall was broken by wires.."32

In January of 1941 the Central Viaduct was condemned and closed to traffic. The residents of the area fought for its preservation. They lost, however, for the bridge was torn down, and its five hundred tons of steel were converted into scrap during World War II.

History of Owners

This is what I found doing research in the County Map Room. The building is #122-16-023, the gas station is #21

The earliest records go back to the first decade of the 20th -century. The microfiche was difficult to read and there may be errors in my interpretation of the spelling.
Star Realty 9-10-05
The N.Y.C. & ST.L. R R 9-28-31
Union Rty 1931
Anita Limited
The following names were hand written in the book:
Helen C. Lincoln 2-21-35
Julius Stein et. al.7-18-56
Irwin & S. Stein 7-12-65
206 Central Viaduct Inc. 7-12-65
Gillota & Son Inc. 7-11-75
Gillota Fuel Products Inc. 9-18-89

Cool old Central Viaduct postcards

Here they show the Central Viaduct to celebrate Cleveland being 6th largest city in America... ah, to return to 100 years ago...

View of Central Viaduct and the very corner of the Strong-Cobb Building 

Colorized later view

Green City on a Blue River...

Air view of Flats looking at Central Viaduct 

 

View from top of old fire station looking toward site of Jacobs Field - all that was cleared to make way for the ballpark and freeway

 

POST CARDS' SOURCE?

In the second card down (corner of Strong-Cobb) you can see the stone bridge abutment which is still out to the west of the Marathon Gas Station.  I recall seeing old train tracks in the pavement at the abutment, terminating at the abutment, did an electrified trolly go over the old bridge?  Looks like it did...because you can also see the electrification catenary support beam in the lower "Central Viaduct" view.  This is  the same bridge as the Strong-Cobb view but  the catenary supports changed from poles with a cable support, to the steel truss supports in the "Central Viaduct" view.   Same structural steel under the deck, however.

Are the cards dated?

What source gets the credit for the post cards? 

Central Viaduct postcards and tragic history

The postcards are from the CSU Library collection, donated from many other collections - see http://images.ulib.csuohio.edu/

As for the history of the bridge... very interesting and tragic...

The council authorized an expenditure of $1 million, and ground was finally broken in May 1887. The city engineer's office furnished the design and construction specifications, and the KING IRON BRIDGE & MANUFACTURING CO. was contracted to do most of the construction. Check out the online King Bridge Co. Museum (http://www.kingbridgeco.com/). Opened on 2 Dec. 1888, the Central Viaduct consisted of 2 bridges. The first structure, known as the Central Viaduct, was 2,839' long and extended from Jennings Ave. (W. 14th) to Central Ave. (Carnegie). Known as a "stilt" type, the bridge consisted of a series of braced towers and deck spans of varying lengths. Originally it had a swing section over the river to allow taller ships to pass, which was replaced in 1912 with an overhead truss. The roadway was approx. 100' above the river. On the night of 16 Nov. 1895, a safety switch failed while the draw was open, causing a streetcar to plunge into the river; 17 people were killed. Closed as unsafe in 1941, the main bridge was razed for scrap iron during World War II. The second bridge, known as the Walworth Run section, was 1,088' long and connected Abbey Ave. to Lorain Ave. at W. 25th. It continued in use until 1986, when a new Abbey Ave. bridge was begun to replace.

Posted from http://realneo.us/history-of-the-central-viaduct