Gordon Square Arcade

The Gordon Square Arcade opened to the public on April 8, 1921. The unique and massive structure quickly became the centerpiece of the Gordon Square commercial district, and a source of pride for the surrounding neighborhood. The monumental building was not only constructed to meet the needs of the community, but acted as a reflection of the neighborhood's growth into a commercial center. In part, the success and growth of Gordon Square, and the choice to build the arcade on the corner of West 65th and Detroit Avenue, was due to its location. Interurban and crosstown streetcars not only provided Clevelanders access to the Gordon Square area. It also attracted residents from the developing communities of Rocky River and Lakewood.

Construction of the arcade took about one year to complete, and cost $1,500,000. The Gordon Square Arcade and Community Building included a seventy-five room hotel, a seventy-five stall market, a pool and billiard room, the Capitol Theatre, seventy offices, thirty-one stores, a barber shop, and a restaurant.

The Gordon Square Arcade remained the heart of a healthy commercial district until the middle of the 20th century, when post war affluence and the construction of highways played their part in promoting a mass exodus of residents, businesses, and industry from the City of Cleveland to the suburbs. New waves of settlers into Cleveland would never again match the numbers of those leaving, and the population began to plummet. Businesses left behind vacant storefronts, factories moved away, and the commercial district slowly began to deteriorate. In what is now considered the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, these changes culminated in the collapse of the Gordon Square Arcade's parapet onto West 65th Street in 1978.

Through the efforts of citizen groups and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, the Gordon Square Arcade was saved from demolition and rehabilitated. In the process, the arcade once again became the centerpiece of Gordon Square and helped reestablish the intersection of West 65h Street and Detroit Avenue as a commercial district. A symbol of the possibilities of urban redevelopment, the Gordon Square Arcade has become a model for efforts to revitalize the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

Images

Fisher Bros. Co. in Gordon Square Arcade

Fisher Bros. Co. in Gordon Square Arcade

Fisher Bros. Co. was the largest retail food distributor in Cleveland until the 1960s. Developed by three grocers from New York, the first store opened in Cleveland on Lorain Avenue and West 47th Street. At the time of the Arcade's opening, Fisher Bros. Co. had over 100 stores in northern Ohio. Photograph courtesy of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization View File Details Page

Rehabilitation of the Atrium

Rehabilitation of the Atrium

The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization not only facilitated the renovation of Gordon Square Arcade, but became the property manager and developer of the building. The structure was renovated to include a variety of retail and office spaces, 64 subsidized apartments for low income elderly and disabled residents, and a 10,000 square foot atrium. Photograph courtesy of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization View File Details Page

Billiards Hall in the Gordon Square Arcade

Billiards Hall in the Gordon Square Arcade

Gordon Square was notorious for its gambling. An appliance store, currently occupied by Chase bank, doubled as a look out for the billiard hall located on the lower level of the Gordon Square Arcade. When police arrived at the arcade, a bell was pushed to warn gamblers in the billiards hall - allowing them to make their way out of the back of the building. Photograph courtesy of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization View File Details Page

Gordon Square Market House

Gordon Square Market House

Located in the northwest corner of Gordon Square Arcade, the modern sanitary market was designed and finished in order that a small hose could wash the ceiling, floor, and stalls. Soon after the arcade's opening, an additional outdoor farmer's market was opened for the sale of fresh fruits, vegetables, and live fowl. Photograph courtesy of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization View File Details Page

The Gordon Square Arcade, 1944

The Gordon Square Arcade, 1944

Land for the arcade was purchased by the Gordon Square Co. from Henry Ford who had abandoned plans to construct an automobile plant on the site following World War I. Although the post war recession between 1918 and 1920 disrupted his plans, Ford's choice of the Gordon Square area was not surprising. The surrounding neighborhood was densely populated by working class immigrants. What is now considered the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood was home to a number of factories and manufacturing plants, including National Carbon Co. and Westinghouse. Photograph courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library View File Details Page

The Gordon Square Arcade, 1978

The Gordon Square Arcade, 1978

This photograph shows the fallen section of the Arcade's parapet onto W. 65th Street. Paras Business Services was already vacant. To the right, the Capitol Theatre marquis has been destroyed. Photograph courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Free Balloons at the Gordon Square Arcade

Free Balloons at the Gordon Square Arcade

The Gordon Square Arcade is currently owned by a partnership headed by the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. Having received the Housing of Urban Development's Urban Action Development Grant to step in and save the arcade, the development organization purchased the building in 1979. The Gordon Square Arcade renovation would take over a decade to complete and cost $4.2 million dollars. Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Richard Raponi, “Gordon Square Arcade,” Cleveland Historical, accessed March 27, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/211.
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