Friday, September 7, 2018

The Terminal Tower

The Cuyahoga River from the observation deck of the Terminal Tower.
The Terminal Tower has been part of Cleveland’s skyline for nearly 90 years. Those of us who live here are used to looking at it from below, but you also can look down on the city from the top of the tower.

The observation deck is open on weekends from April through November. (Thanksgiving is Nov. 22 this year, so you’ll have several chances to look down on the city decked out for the Christmas season.) For just $5, you can buy a ticket that gives you up to 25 minutes on the 42nd floor. Windows on all sides give you a unique view of other Cleveland landmarks, including the Cuyahoga River, Progressive Field, the Q and Public Square. I’ve read that on a clear day, you can see up to 30 miles away. The photos that accompany this post were taken on a rainy spring Saturday, but even lousy weather provides a photo opp up there.

The Q, foreground, and Progressive Field from the observation deck.
From Tower City’s Public Square entrance, you’ll take two elevators – you switch cars on the 32nd floor – to the observation deck. Only so many people fit on the elevators at a time; consequently, only so many people are on the observation deck at one time. When my friend Carol from New Orleans and I visited in April, a Tower City worker was (rather grumpily) controlling the elevator boarding, but no one was timing us at the top. Still, I think it’s best to figure you’ll have no more than 25 minutes up there and plan accordingly.

Tickets must be reserved for a time slot on the self-guided tours that take place between noon and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. No one checked our tickets before we boarded the elevator, but I don’t recommend trying to take the tour without a ticket. Spend the 5 bucks.

I had been to the top of the tower twice before. The first time was on a field trip, circa 1975, but I don’t remember any details and I apparently didn’t take any pictures. The other was in 2000, but it was a winter evening and there wasn’t much to see in the dark. After 9/11, the observation deck was closed for quite some time. I didn’t realize it had reopened until I saw a story in The Plain Dealer this spring.

You can easily combine a Terminal Tower visit with another activity downtown. I will offer some suggestions in a future post. Carol and I had tickets to the Indians game, so we came downtown a little early for the tour. The game was rained out, but the plan was good in theory because we were taking the Rapid to Tower City anyway. A round trip (using an all-day RTA pass) and a tour ticket cost each of us $11.

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