Submitted by Jeff Buster on Wed, 04/26/2006 - 10:43.

Central Viaduct East Bank Bridge Abutment



Keep a bridge abutment without the bridge…why? A pile of rocks or a concentration of feng shui? That’s the question the Cleveland Landmark Commission will consider TOMORROW: should the remaining  Central Viaduct bridge abutment in front of the Broadway Mills Building be committed to the historic register?


We know that Cleveland is defined by the Cuyahoga Valley - with its navigable river and variety of road and rail bridges.  Jane Jacobs – who died this week -  would have promoted the Valley for its dynamic visual interest,  and intense integration of historic and modern infrastructure.  Jacobs would have recognized that the historic background structures – though even seemingly out of date and unused – are the catalysts of the aura which nourishes the human spirit and which are critical in supporting and inspiring  the economic vitality of NEO.


Besides Jacobs, several months ago a Dutch city planning delegation visited Cleveland.  The delegation’s overwhelming opinion was that the Cuyahoga Valley - NOT THE LAKEFRONT – was the crown jewel of Cleveland and provided the defining civic character which makes communities unique in their region and globally.   


To it’s credit, Cleveland – and North East Ohio - has already recognized the importance of the Cuyahoga Valley and the legacy buildings, bridges, and bridge abutments along the Valley.  Are you familiar with the  historic bridge abutments which are featured along the Cuyahoga?   Or are they below your radar…


Of course you know the remains of the barrel arch Berea sandstone bridge which still runs out to the River on the west side just north of the Detroit Superior Bridge.  Spaces Art gallery is on that old viaduct to no where.   And the aura of the old stonework exudes out below through the city blocks around the feet of the bridge.  That broken bridge is one reason why the entertainment venue located next to the old Power House.


Meanwhile, on the Public Square side of the DS Bridge – on the opposite side of the existing DS bridge from the Federal Court House – is a little park with features  the remains of the opposite abutment of the barrel arch bridge – complete with a plaque remembering the old structure.


Now the Cleveland Landmarks Commission has the opportunity to establish  the railroad tracks remains and bridge abutment adjacent to the Broadway Mills building as one more historic jewel in the fabric of the Valley.    The industrial Cuyahoga Valley will have one more intriguing asset and become even a greater magnet for future generations of workers and residents. 


The adage “when in Rome do what the Roman’s do” is a familiar pragmatic directive we all know.   Well Rome has preserved many foundations and abutments – even old clay sewer lines - to its broken Roman buildings and attracts a huge tourist trade – and defines its civility - on account of the tumbled down stones.  


 Cleveland’s old bridges are its version of the Roman Coliseum – and Cleveland should do what the Roman’s do!  Preserve them.   Abutments Rule!


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YES we should save our Rome

You are so right, Jeff - and I really appreciate you bringing up the bigger issue that we are ruining our "ruins" and that is ruining our authenticity. When I look at the Wolstein plans I see a city where I wouldn't bother visiting much less live. They are building a new city, at the loss of what was (just like we destroyed our residential assets over the past century). Cleveland today has Spiderman filming here because we have last traces of authenticity - everyone I value in NEO lives here for the authenticity - and the planners of today are destroying that. Will they be right - will a new Cleveland do better than the one our fathers built?