Written by Erick Trickey, Photograph by Walter Novak
Up top, Cleveland’s present zips by, thousands of cars a day crossing the Cuyahoga River valley. Down below rests an older Cleveland, the one built on streetcar lines that linked everyone to downtown like a wheel and its spokes. Three times a year, that Cleveland opens again for the Veterans Memorial Bridge and Subway Tours. Strolling across the bridge’s secret lower level feels like walking underground and in the air at the same time. The upper level blocks the sun, while the river and the Flats lie below, visible through the grated floor. Telescopes magnify the views of downtown and Ohio City. The old streetcar route leads into the subway, a streetcar stop under West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue, where the white tile and dark shadows echo with the absence of long-gone commuters. A mini-museum includes trolley-car lights, a farebox and photos, while films from the early 1950s, the streetcars’ last days, play on two screens.
Northeast corner of West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue. Open the Saturdays before Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (216) 348-3824, www.cuyctyengineers.org/subway_tour.htm