Friday, September 6, 2013

Doan's Corners

It was once one of the best-known intersections in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Today, it's just a faceless, generic corner of the Cleveland Clinic's "campus," which has wiped out the historical character and community of a large chunk of Cleveland's East Side. But thanks to the digital collections at the Cleveland Public Library, we can catch a few glimpses of its storied history. Established when Nathaniel Doan erected a tavern at the site in 1799, it remained a hub for Cleveland's growth for nearly two centuries. The photo above is from 1929, the height of the 'roaring' twenties; the pillars of the Cleveland Trust bank at the left are about to be shaken, and the lunch counters (Chapin's on the right, Clark's on the left) replaced by soup kitchens; now it was known as 105th and Euclid. By the 1970's and '80's when I first knew this area, it had become a rundown but lively zone of second-run cinemas, X-rated dance clubs, and wig shops. The indefatigable Winston Willis, who eventually owned most of the block, fought for years to keep the Cleveland Clinic at bay, but eventually lost his last appeal, and every remaining building in this photograph was demolished.

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