Then & Now: Millionaire's Row
A look at Euclid Ave.'s illustrious history
By Adam Sockel
Euclid Ave. cuts through Cleveland, acting as a vein connecting the east side of the city to the very heart of Downtown. For centuries, it's been a vital component of Cleveland.
The street was once known as Millionaire's Row, with some 250 mansions lining a four-mile stretch of land. Euclid Ave. was home to notable architects, politicians, inventors and CEOs--including perhaps its most famous resident, John D. Rockefeller. The avenue, much like the city of Cleveland itself, has gone through both high and low times and is now once again a must-visit location on the shores of Lake Erie.
How did it get to where it is today? Let's take a trip down (a ridiculously pricey) memory lane.
In the middle of the 1800s through the early 1900s, Euclid Ave. was home to residents whose collective wealth outranked even that of Fifth Ave.'s in New York City. It was compared to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Baedeker's Travel Guides called it "The Showplace of America," marking it a must-see for tourists from as far as Europe. Some of the palatial estates were up to 50,000 square feet with 100+ servants and staff maintaining them.
Because of the park-like setting, sprawling homefronts and gorgeous churches, Millionaire's Row was considered one of the most beautiful spots in the world to live. Yes, right here in Cleveland. The societal parties were the stuff of legend and the frequent sleigh races that were held attracted thousands of spectators that would line the streets from East 40th to East 9th.
The residents who called Millionaire Row home didn't simply build vast estates and host soirees, though. Their donations to charitable endeavors and the investments they poured into the city went toward the building of medical schools, churches, universities, the famed Cleveland Museum of Art and renowned Cleveland Orchestra.
In 1910, Cleveland was the nation's sixth largest city, but unfortunately, the increase in population led to new developments being created around Euclid Ave. and massive increases in taxes and land cost. The decline of Millionaire's Row saw the demolition of many of the illustrious houses during the decades leading to The Great Depression, and today only five of the original houses remain intact.
While the homes of the wealthy citizens that once called Euclid Ave. their address no longer exist, the foundations, institutions and civic centers that their contributions created continue to thrive. Today, if you drive east from Downtown on Euclid Ave., you pass by the gorgeous Public Square, Playhouse Square (which is the second largest theater district in the nation), and the Cleveland Clinic, one of the most well-respected hospital systems in the world.
Euclid Ave. offers entrances to The Arcade and East 4th St. as well as countless first-class restaurants and some of Cleveland's most sought after apartment residences. It's home to the largest outdoor chandelier in the world, the thriving neighborhood surrounding Cleveland State University's campus, and the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Most of the houses that lines Millionaire's Row may have disappeared but the few that still remain are being put to good use. The Mather Mansion (1910) can be found on Cleveland State University's campus as the home for the Center for International Services Programs. Likewise, the Howe Mansion was purchased by Cleveland State University and is now Parker Hannifin Hall. The enormous Stager-Beckwith Mansion (1863) is the current home of the Cleveland Children's Museum. The Cleveland Clinic purchased the Tudor-style Drury Mansion (1910) and renamed it the Foundation House, now used as a professional mixed use and educational facility. Finally, the H.W. White Mansion is now the Cleveland Clinic's DV Building. Next time you take a ride down Euclid Ave., be sure to look for these historical landmarks.