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Issue Date: October 2010 Issue


View From the Top

If you missed visiting the Terminal Tower's observation deck over the summer, you'll get another chance this month.
Leila Archer

To take in one of the city's most exclusive vistas, you have to drive downtown on a weekend, ride two elevators and agree to leave after 20 minutes. All of this is worth it to get a glimpse of Cleveland that most of us have never seen.

After being closed for almost a decade and open only sporadically since the mid-1970s, the Terminal Tower observation deck reopened to the public during weekends in July and August. But demand for the $5 tickets was so high that people waited in line for them and routinely sold out within 90 minutes, according to Terminal Tower general manager Stephen Bir. "We had expected the demand, but we didn't expect it [to sell out] that quickly," he says.

Because of that summer success, the observation deck will be offering visitors panoramic views of downtown on weekends through Oct. 31. Bir and his team also learned a lot about managing an observation deck during the first two months of operation and have since made adjustments. For one, he's eliminated the long lines by now allowing customers to buy tickets online five days in advance.

If you make the trip to the 42nd floor, you'll find the observation deck has been renovated to resemble how it looked in the 1930s based on old photographs and clues gathered from newspaper articles. It was part of a $40 million effort to restore the Terminal Tower to its original grandeur inside and out.

"We looked at the space itself, tearing down some walls and seeing what was behind them," Bir says of the efforts to restore the observation deck. "That's what intrigued us ... bringing this back to a more historical atmosphere."

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