The ARCADE is an internationally renowned structure which has no peer in the U.S. and has been compared with the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele in Milan, Italy. Erected at a cost of $867,000, the Arcade opened on Memorial Day 1890. It was built by a company of which STEPHEN V. HARKNESS was president. The architects were GEO. H. SMITH and JOHN EISENMANN. The Arcade is a cross between a light court and a commercial passage or shopping street. The building is actually a complex of 3 structures, two 9-story office buildings facing Euclid and Superior aves., connected by the 5-story iron-and-glass enclosed arcade. The great Richardsonian arched entrance on the Superior Ave. front is original, but the Euclid Ave. front was remodeled in 1939. The level of the Superior entrance is some 12 ft. lower than the Euclid one, so that in effect there are 2 main floors, connected by staircases at either end. Since Euclid and Superior are not parallel, a passage leads at a 23-degree angle from the Euclid entrance to a rotunda at the south end of the arcade. The arcade itself is a 300'-long covered light court ringed by 4 levels of balconies, which step back above the Euclid Ave. level. The effect of the vertical lines of the columns rising approx. 100' to the glass roof creates the most breathtaking interior in the city.
The Arcade reflects the time's rapid changes in building technology and contains a mixture of techniques and materials. First, the central entrance towers on both facades had load-bearing walls (before the alteration of the Euclid Ave. front, when steel beams had to be inserted). Second, the masonry facades above the ground story on either side of the towers are carried on I-beams that rest on brackets attached to steel columns, thus utilizing the skeletal principle that had been used in Chicago a few years earlier and that made the skyscraper possible. Third, the floors and roofs of the building are supported on a skeleton of iron columns and oak, wrought iron, and steel beams. The Arcade roof trusses were of a new type, being hinged at the base and the apex. The builder was the Detroit Bridge Co. In 1975 the Arcade was the first Cleveland building to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was purchased in 1978 by Harvey Oppmann, who installed a food court beneath the Euclid Ave. stairs and restored much of the rest to its original splendor.