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Today we devote the second of our "Super Tuesday" Fun with Highways articles to the state of Ohio.  Although the state is often known for its agricultural and industrial heritage, we choose to focus on its major urban centers here with a diagonal trip along I-71 through Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.  In Clevelend in particular, I spend time with the city's industrial landscape and ponder it as a source for creativity (similar to Detroit last week).  Although not originally intended as such, it could be called "fun with bridges."

As always, your comments, reflections on these places, and suggestions of additional virtual visits are always welcome.  Don't be shy!

[Originally posted on with cute highway shields.]

[Originally posted on]

Today we devote the second of our "Super Tuesday" Fun with Highways articles to the state of Ohio.  Although the state is often known for its agricultural and industrial heritage, we choose to focus on its major urban centers here. Although not originally intended as such, it could be called "fun with bridges."

We begin near Cleveland, the state's largest metropolitan area. I-90 comes in from the east along the shore of Lake Erie.  At "Dead Man's Curve", the highway makes an abrupt and rather angular turn to the south to become the Innerbelt Freeway along the edge of downtown.

[Burtcbl at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons]

The above view shows old and new aspects of the city's skyline.  The Terminal Tower is the classic deco skyscraper from the early 20th century is visible in the distance. The highly geometric and sleek Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a contrast along the waterfront.  In between, the Key Tower, the tallest in Ohio, combines elements of both.

I-90 intersects with the northern terminus of I-77 at a rather complicated interchange before continuing across the Cuyahoga River on the "Innerbelt Bridge."

[Photo by GandZ on Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

The bridge crossings over the Cuyahoga in Cleveland are numerous, and perhaps define the city as much as the skyline, if not more.  Even the image above showing the Innerbelt Bridge carrying I-90, we see several others.  There is a low-lying rail bridge crossing underneath at an angle.  It is one of many low bridges that can be raised for water traffic on the river.  I believe this one is no longer in use and is permanently in the raised position.

The most iconic of the many crossings is the Detroit-Superior Bridge carrying US 6 and US 20 across the river into downtown.  The name seems a little odd, as we're not in Detroit and Cleveland is on Lake Erie rather than Lake Superior. But it connects Detroit Avenue with West Superior Avenue and thus the name is quite appropriate.  It rises high above the river and is quite picturesque against the downtown skyline.

[Burtcbl at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons]

Looking towards the lake from this bridge, one sees how closely packed the crossings are, and the diversity of shape, height, function, and level of disuse.  In the picture below, we see the blue bridge carrying a major freeway, State Highway 2, beyond that a rail bridge, and in the front the ruins of the older Detroit Avenue viaduct.

[By Craig Hatfield [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

The viaduct, like the unused rail bridge shown above, are quite interesting as artistic subjects, and even qualify as "hyperart" as described in conceptual artist Akasegawa Genpei in his book Hyperart: Thomasson (you can find out more about it here).   Thus, it should not be surprising that I would very much like to visit this part of the city for artistic inspiration, to explore the bridges both in use and abandoned, as well as other places along in this industrial riverfront section of the city known as the Flats.

[Photo by Chris Hamby on flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)]

Cleveland has actually long served as a magnet for artists interested in urban and industrial landscape, so this is nothing new.  Indeed, the city has seen the same cycle of others where rundown or neglected neighborhoods attract artists in search of low rent and inspiration, and then the costs of living rise.  But it still seems to have much to offer and I hope to get the chance to visit soon.

We depart Cleveland continuing on I-90, and then switch onto I-71 to journey diagonally across the length and breadth of the state.  It winds through the suburbs, crossing many other highways before intersecting our friend I-80, which runs across the state as the Ohio Turnpike.  The Ohio Turnpike is familiar from numerous cross-country trips, with the rolling hills and suburbs giving way to a much straighter road over flat terrain and farmland as one heads west.  But in this instance, we continue south on I-71 towards Columbus, the state's capital and largest city.

[Visit original article for larger version.]

Columbus is in the middle of the state, and without much to get in the way it has developed the "standard" set of ring roads we see in many cities around the world: an outer beltway (in this case, I-270) and an inner belt around the downtown (a combination of I-70, I-71, I-670 and State Highway 315).

[Photo created by Alexander Smith on Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

Looking at the Ohio State House, it initially looks like something is missing: the dome that is ubiquitous on so many seats of government.  It appears as if it has been shaved off.  In actuality, this is part of the design, an older Greek Revival design that predates the current Capitol dome in Washington, DC, that was then used subsequently in most states.

Columbus does have its bridges as well, including the Lane Avenue Bridge which includes some classical elements in its otherwise modern design.

And of course I would be remiss if I did not mention Ohio State, as I have several friends who are devoted lifelong fans due to their connections to either the university of the community.

Leaving Columbus, we continue southwest on I-71 to Cincinnati.

[Photo by Rdikeman]

One stop we must make while in the city is to the Contemporary Arts Center.  The CAC is perhaps most famous for its exhibition of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1990 that still resonates in discussions of "controversial art" (though honestly Mapplethorpe's photographs themselves don't seem that controversial anymore, I have seen on multiple occasions in recent years).  But the museum is more recently known for its building with fragmented geometric sections designed by architect Zaha Hadid; and for programs that feature architecture and design.

The city is home to the Cincinnati Art Museum.  It is a relatively conventional art museum with a wide-ranging collection, but it does include yet another piece by Mark di Suvero for us to encounter is this series.  Atman is another large red metal outdoor sculpture, but without the typical rounded element.

[Photo by Adam Norwood on flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)]

Cincinnati lies along the state's namesake river, which forms the border with Kentucky to the south.  As such the city has its own set of bridges, though nothing to approach the density of Cleveland.  The most interesting perhaps is the John A Roebling Bridge.  One can see many of the elements that Roebling would ultimately use in New York for the Brooklyn Bridge.

[Photo by Rick Dikeman on Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

Another Cincinnati Bridge that has been in the news is the Brent Spence Bridge, which carries I-71 together with I-75 south into Kentucky.  The bridge is featured prominently in the city skyline image above.  It also one of the 15 bridges labeled by the Federal government as "structurally unsafe", which sounds quite bad (indeed, President Obama used it as a backdrop for a speech about rebuilding our infrastructure).  The bridge itself made the case in 2011 when chunks of concrete fell from the upper deck to the lower deck.  Proposals are currently being considered for a replacement.

Originally posted to catsynth on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 01:52 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Love that view from I-90. (8+ / 0-)

    I was waiting for the Ohio "Fun with highways". Well done.

    The bad thing about the I-90 bridge is you can't bike across it. The Lorain-Carnegie (Bob Hope Memorial) bridge is a great ride, high above the Flats starting at the West Side Market and ending nearly a mile later at Jacobs Field. I always thought the 40-foot tall art-deco stone statues on that bridge were awesome. (I can't find any non-copyrighted pictures so you'll have to Google it...)  I'd like to ride across Detroit-Superior next time I'm in Cleveland, there's a lot of neat bridges and architecture in that city, this diary makes me want to make a trip back up there.

    Dead Man's Curve is a textbook case of poor highway design, we just talked about it in my transportation engineering class. That part of St. Rt. 2 that crosses the bridge and runs west to Edgewater Park is locally known as the Shoreway, FYI.

    I always enjoy Fun With Highways, as a civil engineering student I guess my opinion is a little biased.

    "I read this- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of $#!^ I'm never reading again!"-Officer Barbrady

    by Broke And Unemployed on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 03:42:58 PM PST

    •  We Always Called the Entire Lakeside Highway (10+ / 0-)

      the Shoreway from the west end at Lakewood passing between the Lake and downtown, out past Euclid on the east, as I recall.

      Euclid's the site of a huge wind turbine these days on the site of an electric welder manufacturing company.
      Image Hosted by

      I hope the offshore windfarm that had been planned off Cleveland is still in the works. Last I heard, this was the year it would go up. But I'm sure if there's any way for Kasich to kill it he would have.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 03:53:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope the windfarm goes forward, too n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Broke And Unemployed, JanL
      •  I saw the huge windfarm on the Canadian side (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        catsynth, JanL, Ahianne

        of Lake Erie back in '07. We were driving and lost in the middle of nowhere near Long Point, Ontario, and all of the sudden there they were, at least 50 wind turbines. It was right next to a bird sanctuary, which tells me that the Canadians didn't buy the "It Kills Birds!" theory often used by NIMBY folks. The locals were proud enough of the wind turbines that "Lake Erie Windmills" T-shirts were on sale at the local drugstore.

        It bothered me that while Ohio was squabbling over the wind turbines, the Canadians took initiative and built them. 5 years later and we're still squabbling and not building. This country is falling way behind.

        A little off topic from highways, but we need to invest in green power. Back to highways: the drive from Windsor to Niagara Falls was really cool, lots of farmland and very rural.

        "I read this- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of $#!^ I'm never reading again!"-Officer Barbrady

        by Broke And Unemployed on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 04:33:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, Betty Pinson, Actbriniel, PeterHug

    Some great pictures. I've lived near all three cities and these pictures bring back memories.

  •  Heh: "the "standard" set of ring roads" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catsynth, JanL, roadbear

    We don't have those at all in the West. I have traveled extensively in the western United States, but I didn't encounter my first ring road until I visited Lexington, KY as an adult.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 04:28:34 PM PST

  •  state route 104 (5+ / 0-)

    I went to school at OSU, and my home was in Southeastern Ohio.  I always chose rte 104, a two lane road that ran parallel to 23, to drive home, until I got to Chillicothe and had to merge onto 35.

    It takes you through some simple but beautiful farm country...past many old barns with Mail Pouch signs painted on them, and just pleasing scenery.

    I also once drove from my home town in Jackson, down to Portsmouth, and then followed the highway along the Ohio River all the way to was a long but very rewarding drive.  You should have seen some of the old homes I drove past...they were gorgeous.  I don't know what the flood risk is, but I must say these old homes, with their deep front porches and Amish hanging swings...and the view that they had upon the river, were simply stupendous.  

    If I could retire there today, without having to worry about work, I'd be packing right now.  I love Ohio.  I love the hills, the frozen springs that form huge ice flows on the sides of cliffs, I love the smell of cut hay, I love the fall colors, the taste of Bluegill caught at 6:00 AM and fried at noon, I love the River, and the woods, and the cornfields.

    Some of the people there bug me...but the place itself never does.  It is my home.

    If you want to take a nice drive in the state, go through Nelsonville and Hocking's hands down the most scenic part of the state.  Lots of history and state parks.

    Though I'm from there, I've never been to the northeast part of the state...I'll leave that to Gooserock.

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 05:09:40 PM PST

  •  I thoroughly enjoy this series (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catsynth, Ahianne

    Thanks for the effort!  I've driven in all 50 states and your photos remind me of many pleasant miles.

    I do wish you had hit WA, though, during the Saturday caucus - you can find an amazing diversity of landforms, climate and scenery here.  State highway 20 is worth a diary of its own (and is worth a trip out here just to drive it, from the Puget Sound islands through the North Cascades to the Idaho even get to use a ferry!).

    I like lemurs -6.50, -4.82

    by roadbear on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 07:40:16 PM PST

  •  The Three C's Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati (0+ / 0-)

    How about the rest of Ohio...

  •  Mapplethorpe again? (0+ / 0-)

    I cringe every time I see it mentioned. Because 99.99% of the time, what goes unmentioned is the fact that local jury found Dennis Barrie(CAC director) not guilty on obscenity charges.

    (also, not trying to be 'that guy')

    The Brent Spence Bridge is “functionally obsolete", meaning it is safe to drive on, but does not meet current design standards. It is a bit scary to drive on; shitty sight lines, tight ramps, no emergency lanes, but I doubt it falls into the river anytime soon.

    •  "functionally obsolete" (0+ / 0-)

      I think we currently use a term like that for the eastern span of the Bay Bridge which is currently being replaced.

      As for Mapplethorpe, I guess I didn't go into either the arrest or acquittal.  I suppose I was treating it more as a touristy claim to fame, but if I visit CAC I would focus on what was on exhibit at the time.  I was quite curious about their architecture call from a couple of years ago.

      •  CAC (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        catsynth, Ahianne

        The CAC is one of those crazy cool buildings, inside and out. It is a perfect fit for showing "art of the last five minutes".

        As for the Mapplethorpe thing, I guess I am just a bit sensitive to it. Cincinnati gets a bad rap about being a conservative bastion. We certainly have our share, but we have plenty of progressives as well. To wit, the new City Council elected in November tossed out Repugs on their cans. We now have 7 Ds, 1 R, and 1 I, and a lot less rancor.

  •  The downtown cleveland bridges are quite neat. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As a Civil Engineer who has inspected a large number of them I really enjoy the diversity of types there. And I second the descriptions of the Lorain-Carnegie and Detroit-Superior bridges as beautiful works of architecture.

    If you are interested in the Detroit-Superior bridge and art and invention, then I recommend that you go the the Ingenuity Fest . they hold it yearly on the lower deck of the bridge and have performers, art installations, lectures and all sorts of other neat things (as well as food and beer). It's a good time.

    In 2010 they had a giant lit waterfall set up to run from the bridge down into the river below. It was quite neat. I found a video on YouTube that shows it decently well.

    Also thanks for this interesting series. Keep up the good work.

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