Formally dedicated in 1930 following over four years of extensive demolition, excavation, and construction, the Cleveland Union Terminal centralized the city's passenger rail service and gave Cleveland a signature landmark, the 52-story, 708-foot tall Terminal Tower.
The Union Terminal project was conceived by brothers Oris P. and Mantis J. Van Sweringen in conjunction with the development of their other major project, the suburban community of Shaker Heights. They had initially planned to build only a small train station near Public Square in order to facilitate a quicker commute between Shaker and downtown. Eventually, however, the project grew more ambitious when the brothers proposed Public Square as an ideal site for a new, centralized rail station - originally planned to be built on the north end of the Mall as part of Daniel Burnham's Group Plan. In addition, the Van Sweringens scrapped the initial plans for a more modest 14-story office building to sit atop the new train station in favor of the massive 52-story Terminal Tower.
The shy, reclusive Van Sweringen brothers always shunned the spotlight, even opting not to attend the Union Terminal's grand opening ceremonies in 1930. Their effect on Cleveland and its development in the twentieth-century, however, remains on display today.