The Superior Viaduct
09/23/2010 2 Comments
I love playing amateur archeologist in the Big City. For example, for years while walking on the north side of Euclid Avenue near the Statler Apartments I noticed a part of a stage or lobby embedded into the Statler Parking Garage. Turns out it actually was part of the old Stillman Theater on Euclid. It really is a shame that the theater is now lost, part of parking garage. But it is cool to see this random vestige from the old Stillman Theater. Perhaps, the greatest archeological “ruin” in Cleveland has to be the remnants of the Superior Viaduct. For those of you who now live in StoneBridge Apartments or Condos you live on top one of the most historic bridges in Cleveland.
The bridge was originally conceived as a northern connector between then competing cities Cleveland and Ohio City. Ne’er did these two cities see eye to eye on the development and, in fact, the two cities had a “bridge war” where eight individuals were slightly wounded and few other rioters taken to jail. Cleveland then annexed Ohio City in 1854 making it possible to now control both sides of the Cuyahoga River and thus build the Viaduct.
Construction of the viaduct began in 1875 and was completed for a tidy sum of $2.2 million on December 28th, 1878. It was a graceful structure. The photo below was taken from the west side of the viaduct where the Stonebridge Apartments would be today.
According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, “Because of the center drawspan, traffic still had to halt approximately 300 times each month for an average of 5 minutes to permit river vessels with tall superstructures to pass. These delays became increasingly annoying, and the procedure itself began to take a toll on the bridge structure. Voices were raised once again for a new bridge that would be completely high-level.” Essentially, the center bridge span rotated to allow the ships using the Cuyahoga to pass. Simply put the bridge wasn’t high enough for river traffic and people had to wait to get across.
The photo above offers a great view of the west side of the viaduct and of the Flats. The second smokestack you see in this picture is still standing and part of the Powerstation Development on the West Bank of the Flats. However, due to the growth of the City and the importance of moving traffic across the bustling hubs of Cleveland and Ohio City a second bridge was constructed nearby in 1918 – that being the Veterans Memorial Bridge or the Detroit-Superior Bridge. It is a bit odd to see the two bridges together and still in use.
If you have ever sat at the light on West Ninth and Superior you were probably curious of why there is such a funky look to the north side of the Veterans Memorial Bridge – truth is both bridges at one time were connected!
The Superior Viaduct was closed in 1920. Most of the bridge was demolished in 1922 with some additional arches on the west side of the viaduct demolished in 1939 as the City had to expand the river for boat traffic. The viaduct still remains a fascinating reminder of the industrial might of this cool city.