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Issue Date: August 2007 Issue

Then & Now

Written by John Hyduk, Images Courtesy Cleveland State University (Then 1,3,4,5). (Then 2). Heidi Zaller (Now 1, 3-5), Kevin G. Reeves/Courtesy of Architects and Engineers Westlake Reed Leskosky (Now 2)
1 Winton Motor Carriage Co. | 10610 Berea Road
Semitrailers line the loading docks at Clecorr Packaging, purveyors of corrugated products. But in 1900, carmaker Alexander Winton thought outside the box here. The former bicycle mogul replaced the standard steering tiller with a wheel, moved the engine up from under the carriage and developed a reliable car battery. Winton became a rich man, married an opera composer and moved into a Lakewood mansion. Alexander sold out to General Motors, and Clecorr moved here in the 1960s. The Winton Place Condominiums stand on the cliff where his wife fell to her death. But that is another story.

2 Alan Freed’s Studio | 1375 Euclid Ave.
A plaque inside the Idea Center’s white doorway marks the Playhouse Square landmark’s pedigree, but doesn’t betray her wild years. The former home of Kinney & Levan home furnishings company, 1375 Euclid Ave. housed WJW Radio in the ‘50s, when Alan Freed — a TV movie host-turned-deejay — first invoked “rock and roll” over the airwaves. National Public Radio talk has trumped “the Moondog” in here. But a commuter at the temporary bus stop outside nods to her iPod’s beat. The girl can’t help it.

3 Millet Murals | 201 Superior Ave. East
In Room 111, Intake for Federal Bankruptcy Court inside the Howard Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse, a ghost steamship sails on. Flamboyant as a marble wedding cake, the 1910 Beaux Arts building once housed the main post office. Boston muralist Francis David Millet was hired to add some frosting. Millet’s “Mail Delivery” series, honoring correspondence as a keystone of civilization, graced the postmaster’s private office. Two years later, Millet sailed on the Titanic. Survivors remembered seeing him on deck, helping children into lifeboats. In the courthouse’s public lobby, Millet’s tribute to mail — by dogsled, camel and steamship — still goes through.

4 Margaret Bourke-White’s Studio | Terminal Tower, 50 Public Square
Her photographs for LIFE Magazine redefined photojournalism. But in the late ‘20s, Margaret Bourke-White was an ambitious beginner, seeking her subjects along Euclid Avenue, ending each day with a plate of Stouffer’s goulash. Bourke-White rented a studio in Room 1239 of the Terminal Tower (she requested higher, but no one perched above the Van Sweringens’ digs). An artsy salon flourished. “I shall serve Thursday afternoon tea to the architects, my artist friends, and the presidents of the banks,” notes her journal. Forest City Enterprises now fills the floor with oatmeal tones and corporate bustle. Room 1239 has been remodeled into history. A helpful receptionist tells you there is no listing for a Bourke-White.

5 The Cleveland Arena | 3747 Euclid Ave.
Blood sports dominated the Cleveland Arena through the ’40s. The cavernous brick barn with the ratty Euclid Avenue marquee stank of cigars and sweat, and rang with ringside calls for uppercuts. On Sept. 9, 1941, boxer Jimmy Reeves out-pointed Jake LaMotta through 10 rounds. A last-punch knockout by The Bronx Bull came too late, and Reeves was saved by the bell. Mayhem followed. “Fist fights broke out near the ring,” noted the AP wire, “and the crowd booed for 20 minutes … the organist played ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ to help quell the disturbance.” The riot resurfaced as the opening sequence of Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull.” Middleweights no longer rule the Midtown Corridor. Today the sleek red brick headquarters of the Red Cross has replaced the home of the right cross.

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