Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lorain-Carnegie Bridge

I never liked its renaming, in the last years of the 20th century, as the Hope Memorial Bridge. Apparently an attempt to pay homage to Bob Hope, who was born in Cleveland and lived here briefly, making him one of those expatriated native sons that Cleveland likes to crow about.

Hope's father, a stonemason from England, was one of the hundreds of laborers who worked on it, hence the new name. At the time of the renaming, an old photo was published of the crew that built it, arrayed on one of the huge, sculpted pylons (dubbed "The Guardians of Traffic"). One of the tiny, indistinguishable faces was identified as Hope senior. Would it have been more accurate to call it the William Henry Hope Memorial Bridge?

Canon EOS Rebel 2000, Ektachrome.

Guardian of Stagecoaches. Koni-Omega Rapid M, 90mm lens, Ilford Delta 100.

Two views from the bridge. Koni-Omega Rapid M, 90mm lens, Ilford Delta 100.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

West 25th St. Dance Club

Now closed. Many neighborhood complaints about late-night mayhem contributed to the shuttering about six years ago. The heavy bronze statues remained for a few more years and then were gone. One seems to have shown up in a councilman's back yard for a brief while, but the councilman denied it was one of these, and it disappeared shortly thereafter, according to reports in the Beige Lady. Given their size and weight, they wouldn't be the easiest thing to haul around. Where are they now?

Holga 120 with Tri-X.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Walker Evans

Twin abandoned houses on Carnegie Avenue just west of East 72nd Street. I watched them slowly deteriorate over the space of a few years till they were finally taken down. The one on the right was the first to go. Each time I passed them, I was reminded of "Love Before Breakfast," a study of twin houses with billboards by Walker Evans. Right after I took this shot, my car began overheating alarmingly and I had to turn around and return home. Bad thermostat.

1959 German Kodak Retinette 1a.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Abandoned Mall

Not entirely abandoned. A few stores remain in a discrete section of Randall Park Mall, most of which, however, is closed and inaccessible. A recent stroll through the open portion was a bit dispiriting. Idle store employees seem to outnumber customers in the echoing expanse.

The site was once home to Randall Park Racetrack, a massive frame structure painted white, across the street from the other track, Thistledown, which still runs thoroughbreds in the summer. The mall opened to exuberant fanfare in 1976. Shoppers were thrilled by the size of the complex and the variety of stores, which included the first area Horne's department store. A large hotel was built adjacent to the mall. It too is now abandoned, many of its windows broken out, curtains flapping into the open air.

Rapid-Omega 200, 58mm lens.


The mayor of North Randall has informed mall tenants that the shopping center will close on June 12, 2008.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Power of Widgets

When I first posted on this blog in January, 2008 about the Olney Gallery, I was unaware of rehabilitation efforts that were underway, however tentatively. The December 31st online edition of Business First of Columbus noted briefly that the Olney Gallery and House had received approval for a historic preservation tax break from the Ohio Department of Development to the tune of $980,270. Overall costs of the project are estimated at $4.86 million, which probably explains why there hasn't been much forward movement on renovation in the face of Cleveland's comatose economy.

As mentioned before, the Olney Gallery at 2241 West 14th Street, in what is now the Tremont neighborhood, was the first art museum in Cleveland open to the public. The yellow brick gallery, adjoining the Victorian frame mansion known as the Lamson House, was built in 1892 by attorney Charles Olney, and designed by the architectural firm of Forrest A. Coburn and Frank Seymour Barnum.

Charles Olney's wife was the widow of Lamson and Sessions founder Samuel Sessions, who with brothers Isaac and Thomas Sessions moved their carriage bolt and nut company from Mt. Carmel, Connecticut to Cleveland. From Lamson and Sessions' website:

"Sales trips to the Midwest enticed Samuel Sessions to move the Company in 1869 to the banks of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. In this area of expanding markets, less competition, good sources of raw material, steam power and transportation, he envisioned growth and prosperity for the Company. The partnership was incorporated in the State of Ohio in 1883 and named The Lamson & Sessions Co."

The fortune accrued from the manufacture of widgets would eventually lead to the establishment of publicly accessible art in northeast Ohio.

Above, the Olney Gallery in its heyday. In 1904, Charles Olney donated his collection of paintings, ivories and bronzes to Oberlin College, where it became the foundation of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. It would be twelve years before Cleveland's public could again view masterpieces of art, when the Cleveland Museum of Art opened in 1916. The Olney gallery, meantime, saw later use as a Ukrainian social club and a Puerto Rican social club. A woman who grew up on Cleveland's near west side in the late 1950s and 1960s remembers her father attending union meetings in the Olney building.

Right now the Olney remains empty, its windows (like those of the Lamson House) tightly boarded, its porch cluttered with leaves, dirt and litter -- half-decayed sheets of newspapers, crushed 16-ounce ale cans, an incongruous pair of above-the-ankle leopard print mukluks. What happens next?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mosaic Palette

Diffuse light from a semi-cloudy sky and a day off from work made it possible to finally get an evenly-lit shot of the porch of the long-abandoned Olney Gallery on West 14th Street in Tremont. I will confess to increasing the contrast in iPhoto afterward. See "Meanwhile, over in Tremont" in the January postings on these pages for sunny views of the Olney Gallery.

Little pocket digital.