Most people know about "The Arcade" in Cleveland. Some might be surprised, however, to find out that Downtown actually had three more of these incredible structures running parallel to each other between Euclid and Prospect Avenues. Two of them, the Colonial (1898) and Euclid (1911) Arcades, stood side by side 100 feet apart, while the Taylor Arcade (1907) was located to their east. The Taylor Arcade was subsumed into Taylor's department store in the 1930s. In contrast, the Colonial and Euclid have been connected at their midpoint by a food court since 2000. The Colonial Marketplace project also led to other renovations in and around the arcades, including the opening of a Marriott in the former Colonial Hotel on Prospect Avenue.
While Cleveland's "other" surviving arcades may lack the five-story grandeur of the original Arcade (which opened in 1890), they are still unique and impressive spaces. The sheer brightness of the Euclid Arcade, with its white marble floors, white terra cotta walls, and sky-lit white barrel-vaulted ceiling is truly something to behold. The Colonial Arcade offers a different flavor, sporting an iron and glass ceiling reminiscent of the original Arcade, as well as exquisite detailing on its balcony-level walls and fixtures.
It is difficult to imagine today just how busy these arcades were in the decades after they first opened. This was an era when people came to downtown Cleveland to shop and the arcades were made to accommodate the customers. Both the Colonial and Euclid Arcades had space for about 40 stores, including retail establishments, restaurants, places for amusement such as bowling alleys and billiard halls, and professional offices. As interior spaces located away from the street, the arcades provided an escape both from the weather and the hustle and bustle of the big city. Women in particular were said to "naturally seek them out" and spent "many a comfortable day flitting from store to store." It was remarked that in the arcades "there is no noise, except the steady hum of conversation and the swish of shoes on the pavement" and "all is clean and bright."
Today, the arcades do more than merely provide respite from Cleveland winters. Restyled the 5th Street Arcades, the old Euclid and Colonial Arcades have brought back a range of distinctive shops and eateries that contribute to downtown's revival.