Downtown Cleveland at the turn of the twentieth century was a crowded and noisy place. Specialized, multi-level passageways lined with shops - known as arcades - were built in order for people to escape the clamor of the streets, as well as the often inhospitable Cleveland weather. Beyond their functional and economic uses, the intricately designed arcades were a reflection of the technological advances of the industrialized city and a symbol of Cleveland's success.
Euclid Avenue has the nation's finest collection of arcades. The most notable of these is "The Arcade" (often called the "Old Arcade"), built in 1890 with financing from John D. Rockefeller and other industrial tycoons. Inspired by Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and other European antecedents, the Old Arcade features a five-story glass atrium with ornate metal decorative work, including fearsome gargoyles with red light bulbs in their mouths. It was renovated by Walker & Weeks in 1939 to include Art Deco facades. In 1975, it became Cleveland's first building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Threatened with demolition, it underwent extensive renovation and redevelopment, becoming home to a Hyatt Regency hotel in 2001.
Other historic arcades in Cleveland include the Euclid Arcade and the Colonial Arcade, both built not long after the opening of the Old Arcade. The two lie parallel to each other on Euclid Avenue across the street from the Old Arcade, connecting with Prospect Avenue to their south. During the 2000s, renovations linked the Euclid and Colonial Arcades together as part of a project that included the opening of a food court and the Marriott Residence Inn, which incorporates the old Colonial Hotel building on Prospect Avenue.