High in the Cleveland Sky

An eastbound Norfolk Southern coal train with two BNSF units trailing, crosses the Bridge No. 1 over the Cuyahoga River. The view is from the observation of Cleveland Terminal Tower. (Photographs by Roger Durfee)

The public observation deck of Cleveland’s Terminal Tower reopened on July 18, 2010, after being closed since September 2001. ARRC member Roger Dufee and his wife, Michelle, were among those who waited in a long line to reach the perch on the 42nd floor of Cleveland’s most distinctive landmark. From there, they enjoyed a captivating panoramic view that included views of the Norfolk Southern Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline on Cleveland’s lakefront.

The building, officially opened on June 28, 1930, is 52 stories tall.

It was the second tallest building in the world—behind the Empire State Building in New York City—until 1953.

The glass-enclosed observation deck has a capacity of 50 and was to be open for four consecutive weekends beginning July 10. The observation deck has been open only during special occasions in recent years. It was renovated as part of a $40 million rehabilitation project that wrapped up in January this year.

Terminal Tower was built as a office building and hovered over the Cleveland Union Terminal. Intercity trains used CUT until December 31, 1971. A former Erie Lackawanna commuter train continued to use the terminal until it made its last runs on January 14, 1977.

The train station, now a shopping center known as Tower City, continues to serve RTA trains.

Hulett ore unloaders can be seen inside the loop in the trees just below those three tanks in the upper left of the view of Whiskey Island.

An RTA Lakefront line train on the bridge over the NS. Note the Art Deco style of the Coast Guard station on the other side of the Cuyahoga River.

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