Filed Under Architecture

The Arcade

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.


"The best building in Cleveland" Clevelanders describe the history and quality of the Old Arcade. Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities


A Favorite of Many Various Cleveland architects reflect on Cleveland's historic arcades Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Remaking The Arcades Neil Distad discusses the relationship between the arcades on Euclid Avenue and the economic development of the city Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection


The Arcade, Ca. 1910 Shoppers walk through the Cleveland Arcade, circa 1910 Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Republican Banquet, 1895 The National Republican League, a collection of state and local Republican Party clubs, held their convention's banquet at the Arcade in June 1895. Among the attendees were Ohio Governor William McKinley and his chief adviser and campaign manager Clevelander Marcus Hanna. In 1896, Hanna's innovative campaign techniques (he set a record by spending a then unheard of $3.5 million during the race) helped McKinley win the Presidential election by defeating William Jennings Bryan. As it continued to be in the 1896 election, a major topic of debate at the NRL convention in Cleveland was the gold standard and its merits versus the free coinage of silver. McKinley was an ardent supporter of the gold standard and protective tariffs for American industry. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
South Face of Arcade, Ca. 1900 The south face of the Cleveland Arcade building, located along Superior Avenue. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Arcade Jewelry Store, 1931 A crowd gathers in front of Greenwood's Diamonds at the Arcade on January 8, 1931. A sign in the window reads, "Trade in your watch," which must have been a recourse taken by many who were struggling to make ends meet during the Great Depression. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Facade Redesign, 1933 In the depth of the Great Depression, the Arcade's owners opted to refresh its Euclid Avenue facade, replacing the heavy Richardsonian Romanesque arch entry with more modernist design. This move fit a Depression-era pattern of using sleek new facades to stimulate renewed interest in downtown shopping. The Superior Avenue elevation of the Arcade retains its original stone arch. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Creator: James Thomas Date: 1933
Euclid Arcade Entrance, 1934 Despite the fact that Cleveland, like other cities, suffered major setbacks during the Great Depression, Downtown remained an active and popular destination. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Showboat Ball, Jan 1961 The Showboat Ball at the Arcade, sponsored by the Musical Arts Association, raised over $5,000 for the Cleveland Orchestra. The event, attended by some 700 people, marked the first time that the Arcade had been used to hold a ball since the 1895 National Republican League event. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Transverse Sketch This architectural drawing, prepared for the Library of Congress's Historic American Buildings Survey, shows how the five story Arcade fits in between two nine story office buildings on Euclid and Superior Avenues. Notice how the street entrance on Superior Avenue sits lower than the street entrance on Euclid Avenue, creating two different "ground floors" on either end of the arcade. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress


401 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114


Richard Raponi and Michael Rotman, “The Arcade,” Cleveland Historical, accessed January 16, 2022,