The Flats, Cleveland

From what I understand, pretty much all of the lower Cuyahoga Valley, including Whiskey Island, is know as the Flats, which is the lowlands along the twisting course of the waterway that soon found itself clogged with boats coming to and from the many factories and distilleries crowding its banks.

As you might imagine, it was horribly polluted at an early date, as industries such as Standard Oil and steel mills dumped waste into the water. Massive bridges, many of which are innovative in their design, soon began to cross from the eastern plateau to the west.

This excellent article talks about the infamous fire that galvanized the environmental movement in the late 1960s and embarrassed the city on the national stage. In realty, it was really the last of what had been numerous fires, and not even the largest one.

Detroit Publishing Co., Copyright Claimant, and Publisher Detroit Publishing Co. The Cleveland Flats. United States Ohio Cuyahoga River Cleveland, ca. 1901. Photograph. Library of Congress.

And railroad tracks came up from the lakefront, carrying taconite pellets and limestone to the steel mills here and far away. This vertical lift bridge has been left in the up position.

Below we look up at the Main Avenue Bridge, completed in 1939, and is a cantilevered deck truss span. It seems to have replaced an earlier bridge.

Below, a streetcar crosses an unidentified bridge.

Detroit Publishing Co., Publisher. The Flats, Cleveland. United States Ohio Cuyahoga River Cleveland, None. [Between 1890 and 1901] Photograph. Library of Congress.

Due to the decline in river or rail traffic, many other bridges are just left in the down…

…or up position, as this bascule bridge below illustrates.

Of course, there are also old factories and warehouses down here, as well, and like most American cities, there is rehabbing going on in the buildings.

I can only imagine the smoke and grime just hung out in the valley, or even worse just pumped out of the smokestacks at street level on the surrounding hills where the rest of the city lay.

Below is a relic of the end of hostilities between Cleveland’s rival to the west of the Cuyahoga, Ohio City, the Superior Avenue Viaduct, constructed in 1872 after the latter’s annexation by the former in 1854.

Now akin to something like the Ponte Rotto in Rome, it no longer continues all the way across the river to downtown Cleveland.

I always find it interesting when cities put money into revitalizing old industrial areas while original residential neighborhoods continue to decline.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Beverly Snider says:

    It is very sad… 🤔🥲

  2. Sean B. says:

    The factual observations of Cleveland’s municipal government wasting it’s budget on some assembly lined character, condominium looking apartment buildings over some greater park space is pretty disgraceful. Heck the only mid to long term positive factor I see for the tenants of those new apartments is that they will have more convenient bus transportation access than those more nowhere, Village Development residents in West County’s Twin Oaks

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