Friday, July 31, 2009

Would you rather have our house or another freeway?


The good folks at the Cleveland Memory Project at Cleveland State University have digitized another gem, Cleveland's Forgotten Freeways.


Of note is the Lee Road Freeway, which would have gone right through our house. It can be seen in bold on this map of the greater Cleveland area.

The introductory letter, dated 4 October 1966 states: The suggested location and design for the freeway are believed to be compatible with the present-day social developments of the communities involved and, more importantly, a pre-requisite to their continued economic and cultural well-being in the future. Read: it'll make it easier to flee to the exurbs.

clark freeway

Another part of this massive highway plan, the Clark Freeway, brought the surrounding communities together in opposition. The freeway, shown in bold above, would have cut right through the center of the Shaker Lakes, ruining this last vestige of nature in the adjoining inner-ring suburbs, Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights.

lee 2

In this map, one can see the freeway over what would have been the former location of our house, and to the right, the interchange over one of the Shaker Lakes.

lee road 1

This detail map shows more clearly the exact route through my neighborhood. It would have destroyed the walkability of the community. Note the presence of the off-ramp dropping all that traffic right in front of the junior high (now elementary) school. This is a community where the kids walk to school. What the heck?

There was an alternate route that was also offered and which wouldn't have involved the demolition of our house. Here's the detail map. See. Not quite so awful. We'd just be living right next to the freeway. That's what this neighborhood needs, after all. Nevermind that we have better access to light rail service than any other community in the greater Cleveland area.

To me the most interesting part of the alternate route is the aerial photograph of my house. It seems that our driveway and our neighbor's driveway, which are shared, had a fence between them at the time. Also, our patio wasn't quite so big.


Chris said...

That would have been a reat treat. Great view from my place and a short commute to ... Maple Heights?

You still have time to make up for missing out on the Shaker freeways by donating to the Manhattan Airport Foundation.

The Lee and Clark Freeways look just about as tongue-in-cheek, don't they?

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

But but! With all the skyscrapers, it'll make for takeoffs and landings as difficult as Paro, Bhutan. Visual flight rules and all that.

Of course, what they really need to do is to spend more taxpayer dollars to buy a large swath of the buildings to create better flight routes.

I can't believe I didn't see this earlier: They were going to screw things up for everyone else so that the people who lived farther away could have a marginally shorter commute. Why not just ignore those people in the exurbs? (Other than the fact that the term hadn't been coined yet, I mean.)

artemis said...

Heh, the funny thing is that we have a series of maps and photographs like this for our Oakland, CA neighborhood too---except that they actually built the freeways here, so one of them *does* dump traffic in front of our neighborhood elementary school (and they puzzle over why people don't send their kids there...)

I've seen a few local artists use the aerials (which seem to be the only photographs of that caliber that exist from that era---ironic) in really beautiful commemorative ways to recognize the city that was and the neighborhoods that vanished. Depressing nonetheless, though, especially as the freeways here became major socioeconomic and racial/ethnic barriers within the city, too.

I'm so glad yours are only hypothetical! (My boss, who grew up in Cleveland and often updates us on what's new on the city planning front there after his visits, loves your area and how the light rail there has been preserved; out here it was all destroyed in the 1950s.)

Nora said...

Chris - even tho I'm not from the area your research is real interesting and I've been enjoying it!


DIY said...

Interesting. I do love history. We use to have a rail track where we live, but they pulled it down years ago. 1950s maybe.