Cleveland Then and Now: How to Enjoy Beloved Locales of the Past!

The Cleveland of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was known as a manufacturing powerhouse and commercial hub. Alongside the steel mills, factories, and automotive companies rose the retail and recreation that kept Clevelanders entertained. While many of these beloved locales of the past are no longer standing today, some once-famed Cleveland locations can be visited and enjoyed!

Euclid Beach Park – Built at the turn of the last century and styled after the famed Coney Island in New York, Euclid Beach Park holds a place in the heart of any Clevelander lucky enough to visit before it closed in 1969. Taken over by the Humphrey family in 1901, beer halls and honky-tonks were removed to make the park a family-friendly destination. Rides like the Euclid Beach Carousel, the Racing Coaster, and the Flying Turns were the most popular along with the beach and bathhouses.

What you can enjoy today: The beautifully restored Euclid Beach Carousel is now fully operational and open for visitors to ride and enjoy. According to Western Reserve Historical Society, the carousel was sold in 1969 with the closing of Euclid Beach Park. Then, nearly 30 years later, the carousel returned to Cleveland after being purchased at auction. The following restoration process spanned until the early 2000s. The carousel finally returned to public use in 2014, and now resides in a specially constructed pavilion at WRHS. Along with taking a nostalgic ride, the pavilion holds loads of historic photos and details about the park itself. Furthermore, fans of Euclid Beach Park can take a drive to visit the iconic Euclid Beach entry arch, which has been declared a historical landmark.

League Park – Cy Young threw out the first pitch in 1891 and 38 years later Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run here. The park also hosted the 1920 World Series, where the Indians won their first championship. Although the final MLB game was played here in 1946, the park still occupies the same city block today that it was created for nearly 130 years ago. Weekend games were played at the Cleveland Stadium, which held quadruple the number of spectators, so fans treasured the intimacy of the weekday games at League Park. Eventually, the city purchased the property, and the crumbling infrastructure was torn down and replaced with a park and pool. A designation on the National Register of Historic Places and a $5 million renovation helped to recreate the dimensions of the original diamond.

What you can enjoy today: While the park itself is a replica, the original building that housed the Indians’ ticket office survived demolition and was converted into the Baseball Heritage Museum. “League Park has been completely renovated & currently many high school teams & Little League games are played there,” states Nancy Sherwin, a Judson Park resident and Indians super-fan. “Along with this renovation, the Baseball Heritage Museum has been established there.  If you haven’t visited this spot and you’re a baseball fan, you definitely should visit.” Nancy shares some of the many highlights of the museum, from a plethora of memorabilia including photographs, posters, mitts, balls, and uniforms, to interesting programming. “I’ve heard lots of history, including authors Ken Krsoloviv, Bryan Fritz, and Ruth Reid Morhard speaking about their books”. If you have any doubts about visiting, take this advice from Nancy: “Believe me—all baseball fans should visit the Baseball Heritage Museum!!”.

The Higbee Company – Locals simply referred to it as Higbee’s, and the department store anchored the golden age of downtown retail. Back when a trip downtown meant a special occasion to get dressed up, families would welcome the Christmas season with a visit to Higbee’s. The giant display windows displayed Christmas decorations and merchandise. Bruce the Spruce would greet children waiting in line for a visit with Santa and helpful elves wrapped the gifts that kids chose for their parents at the Twigbees Shop. If you were extra lucky, you might even get to have breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning on the tenth-floor Silver Grille.

What you can enjoy today: The Higbee Company was purchased by Dillard’s in 1992 and then again in 2002 by Horseshoe Casinos (now called Jack). While the physical building space still exists, there is nothing left of the department store. The Silver Grille, however, is restored and can be rented out for special occasions. During the holidays Bruce the Spruce is put on display on the first floor of Tower City. One of the best ways to remember Higbee’s in its heyday is to re-watch “A Christmas Story”; the store is featured prominently in several scenes that highlight its façade, window displays, and rooms.

These cherished sites have grown over the decades alongside Judson, which was founded in 1906, and are a short drive from our campuses! Take some time this fall to explore these beloved spots and reminisce about our city’s memorable history. During your visit, you may create fantastic new memories that will be cherished as well!

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