Tower City Center

From Academic Kids

Tower City Center (also known as Terminal Tower) is a landmark skyscraper located in Cleveland, Ohio. It was built by the Van Sweringen brothers to serve as an office building and retail center atop the city's new rail station, Union Terminal. It also served as the terminus of the city's heavy rail line, now known as the Red Line, from 1955, until extended to Cleveland Hopkins Airport in 1968 and of the light rail system, now known as the blue and green lines, from 1920 to 1996. The top of the building is 708 ft (216 m) high.

Terminal Tower was not completed until 1930, after a long period of construction - at the time, it was the second largest excavation project in the world after the Panama Canal. It would remain the tallest building in the world outside of New York City until the completion of the Prudential Center in Boston in 1967. For many decades it was by far the most notable part of the Cleveland skyline.

The Union Terminal served all rail lines - except for the Pennsylvania Railroad - from completion until 1973. It was never particularly popular, however. It required deviating from the quicker route along Lake Erie. As the city would not allow trains to operate under steam power near the downtown area, trains were forced to switch from stop steam to electric power at a suburban rail yard when heading inbound and then reverse on the way out at another yard. As a result, some lines began to bypass the station entirely, heading along the lake route, and some trains stopped serving the city altogether. In 1973, Amtrak chose to move out of the station, instead serving a small station along the lake route, ending intercity service to the station, though Cleveland Rapid Transit continued its local services.

Most of the Union Terminal area was demolished in the late 1980s renovation of the building. The station area itself was converted into a mall, known as Tower City, which opened in 1988 (the building was renamed after the mall a few years later). Higbee's (by then bought by Dillard's) closed its department store in the complex in 2001, and it remains largely vacant. Part of the platform area was re-used for the Cleveland Rapid Transit, which renovated its local transit system simultaneously, but the rest was demolished and is now used as a parking area. The office tower continues to be occupied.

In the 1980s a plan to build a taller building than the Terminal Tower was put forward, but was rejected by city officials who wanted to keep Terminal Tower as the city's tallest landmark building. The building, BP Tower (at the time known as the Sohio Building), was scaled down. Terminal Tower remained the tallest building in Cleveland until the completion of the Key Tower (at the time known as the Society Center) in 1991.

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