Filed Under Bridges

Clifton Park Bridge

Opened in 1964, the Clifton Park Bridge connects the cities of Rocky River and Lakewood. It is a section of Clifton Boulevard and the Grand Army of the Republic Highway (U.S. Route 6). The bridge crosses the Rocky River very close to where it empties into Lake Erie.

The Clifton Park Bridge was built by the State Highway Department to alleviate the congestion on the Detroit Rocky River Bridge. The project, however, was not without controversy. The seizure of private property through eminent domain was eventually required in order to build the bridge. Apart from angering the affected citizens, this measures would also mean that each city would lose the money from the property taxes on those sites. The tax issue led to a more than ten-year-long dispute between the cities of Rocky River and Lakewood as the two sides could not agree on the location of the bridge. Rocky River supported the location even though the city would lose tax money. Lakewood on the other hand opposed the location because the bridge would go through the wealthy Clifton Park neighborhood on the northwestern side of the city and cause $1.5 million worth of property to be lost to eminent domain.

Other plans were proposed, such as increasing the traffic on the Hilliard Road Bridge and turning the Nickel Plate trestle into a double-decker bridge for both train and car traffic. The Hilliard Road Bridge plan was highly favored and carefully discussed. The basic question at the center of this debate was whether or not cities had the right to refuse the building of a major highway. This is also known as the "ordinance of consent." In the end, eight homes and fifteen other parcels of land were seized by the state under eminent domain in order to build the bridge with both cities losing valuable property. The Clifton Park Bridge was thus built by the state of Ohio over the objections of the local governments.

The unique curving streets of Clifton Park distinguish it from the rest of Lakewood's grid pattern. It was built starting in the late 19th century and features many historic mansions. It has been the home of many of greater Cleveland's most prominent citizens. Despite Lakewood's fears, the Clifton Park neighborhood continued to thrive even after the Clifton Park Bridge controversy, remaining alive and well even today.

Audio

Letter to the Editor, 1952 This letter to the editor of the Plain Dealer was written by Russell C. Grahame was printed on July 27, 1952. Grahame expresses his opinions of the Clifton Park Bridge controversy. He examines the pros and cons of each route that has been offered has an alternative to the Detroit Rocky River Bridge and speaks out against building a new bridge. He favors the modifying the Nickel Plate Train Bridge.

Images

Vernon Stouffer House, 1951 Vernon Stouffer (1901-1974) lived at 17784 Beach Rd in Clifton Park. He was the owner of Stouffer's frozen food. In the 1940s, Vernon and his brother, Gordon, expanded the family's restaurant business and began producing frozen food. Vernon Stouffer also owned the Cleveland Indians from 1966 to 1972. Under Stouffer, the Indians lost millions of dollars, performed poorly on the field, and attendance dropped significantly. Vernon Stouffer is buried in Lakewood Park Cemetery in Rocky River. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Inglewood, 1917 The Inglewood estate of Francis Glidden in Clifton Park took advantage of the neighborhood's quiet nature. The winding streets and comfortable homes were the perfect getaway for a wealthy business man. Inglewood was designed by architect Edwin Glidden. The house originally had a Spanish facade, three double chimneys and an Adams motif interior. The home no longer has the span. Glidden was the president of the Glidden Varnish Company which he founded in 1875. The business produced 1,000 gallons of varnish every week and made deliveries via horse and wagon. By the early 20th century, the Glidden factory employed 18 workers and produced a variety of industrial varnishes for furniture, pianos, and vehicles. The company's biggest seller was Jap-A-Lac, a varnish for the home market. Glidden continued to expand throughout the 20th century, diversifying into many markets such as paint and condiments. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Opening, 1964 This is the ribbon cutting ceremony at the official opening of the Clifton Park Bridge in 1964. Mayor Norman C. Schwenk of Rocky River, Lieutenant Governor John Brown, Mayor Robert Lawther of Lakewood, and County Engineer A. S. Porter are shown. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
House Being Moved, 1963 This house used to sit at 391 Arundel Road. Built in 1950 and owned by Robert Nygerges and his family, it was the final house to be moved after being seized for the Clifton Park Bridge project. The house was bought by Rudy Eckenroth and moved to 24620 Wolf Road in Bay Village. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Construction, 1963 This 1963 photograph shows the bridge supports during the construction of the Clifton Park Bridge. Facing west, the upper part of the photo shows the Lakewood side of the bridge. To the right is the Nickel Plate train trestle. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Making Way for Construction, c. 1963 This 1963 photograph shows the gap in the Clifton Park neighborhood left as homes seized by eminent domain were torn down to clear the way for the Clifton Park Bridge. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Drawing, c. 1963 This drawing, circa 1963, shows the Clifton Park Bridge plan. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Aerial View with Drawing, 1963 This 1963 drawing by James Thomas places the proposed Clifton Park Bridge and its on-ramps construction plans over an aerial photograph. Marion Court and Frazier Road are labeled. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Location

Metadata

“Clifton Park Bridge,” Cleveland Historical, accessed October 4, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/234.