Compact Discs have put a huge dent in the vinyl record industry, but vinyl records are still being made. Gotta Groove Records, located in Tyler Village, in Cleveland, produces high quality vinyl records on this press, originally built in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
Raw vinyl is extruded, bringing its temperature to approximately 300 degrees, and formed into a hockey puck-like biscuit of hot vinyl. Labels are applied to either side of the biscuit, which is pressed between two plates, or “pressers.” The pressed record is then cooled, and trimmed. In seconds raw vinyl is transformed to a high quality record.
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The Cleveland Railway Co. was Cleveland’s privately owned public transit franchisee from 1910 to 1942. The City of Cleveland awarded franchises to private companies to operate horse-drawn car, and later, electric streetcar lines. The increased cost of electric streetcar lines caused consolidation of the industry in the late 1880s. In 1903, the two remaining companies merged to form the Cleveland Electric Railway Co.
Mayor Tom L. Johnson, who had been involved in the electric railway business before moving to Cleveland in 1883, was an advocate of municipal ownership of public transit. The Municipal Traction Co. was incorporated in 1906, and in 1908, the company leased the operations of the Cleveland Electric Railway Co. In 1910, the Municipal Traction Co. and Cleveland Electric Railway Co. filed for bankruptcy protection, and a new franchise agreement was created between the city and the former Cleveland Electric Railway Co., renamed Cleveland Railway Co.
Many of the cars owned and operated by the Cleveland Railway Co., including Car 1218 were manufactured by the G.C. Kuhlman Car Co. of Cleveland. Car 1218 was built in 1914, and improved in 1920 and leased to the Cleveland Interurban Railroad, owned by the Van Sweringen brothers, to provide transportation between Shaker Heights and Terminal Tower. The brothers purchased the Cleveland Railway Co. in 1930. Car 1218 was retired in 1960.
1218 was a center-entry car, meaning that there was only one door, located in the middle of the car. Once the passenger entered the car, and placed his or her fare into the collection box, there were two more steps up to the seat level. Many of the fare boxes were manufactured by the Johnson Fare Box Company, founded by Tom L. Johnson.
The Cleveland Transit System (CTS) was established after the City of Cleveland purchased the Cleveland Railway Company, in April, 1942. By 1954 the conversion to rubber tires vehicles was completed, and rail transit was limited to the Windermere line, which was extended to the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in 1958. In 1974, CTS was reorganized as the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) which absorbed the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit the following year.
An agreement was reached between RTA and University Circle Incorporated, by which Car 1218, having been retired to Trolleyville in 1966, was to be restored and placed on display in the vicinity of the Children’s Museum in University Circle (so named because it was once the circle where street cars turned around to return to downtown Cleveland). Lacking funding, the project was never completed, and Car 1218 has been sold.
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Scottish immigrant, Alexander Winton, came to Cleveland in 1884. In 1891, he established the Winton Bicycle Co., and in 1896, after two years of experimentation in the basement of his home, developed his own hydrocarbon engine, and completed his first motor carriage. Two years later, in space rented in the Brush Arc Lamp factory, Alexander Winton sold America’s first production automobile. Prior to that time, manufacturers of horseless carriages built automobiles to meet the specifications of the customer. Winton’s first production run consisted of twenty-two automobiles.
The first automobile of the original production run was purchased for $1,000 by Robert Allison, a mining engineer from Port Carbon, Pennsylvania. Today, that historic automobile is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The twelfth car in that 1898 production run was purchased by James W. Packard of Warren, Ohio
100 cars were built in 1899, and sold for $2,000 each. The Pheaton (above), in the collection of the Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society is one of them.
The company soon out-grew its rented space, and built a factory at Berea Road and Madison Avenue. The factory was surrounded by a test track. History was made in 1903 when Dr. H. Nelson Jackson and his chauffeur, Sewell K. Crocker completed the first transcontinental crossing, from San Francisco to New York, with a stop at the Cleveland factory along the Way. That historic 1903 Winton is also in the collection of the Smithsonian.
It is ironic that the Winton Motor Car Co. (so named after the company was reorganized in 1915), having pioneered the production manufacture of automobiles in the United States, found itself unable to compete with the mass-production of Henry Ford, and the company closed in 1924. By that time, Alexander Winton had become involved new directions. In 1912, Winton formed the Winton Gas Engine & Mfg. Co., to produce marine engines, and the following year, produced America’s first diesel engine. Alexander Winton sold the engine business to General Motors in 1930, and it was renamed the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General Motors Corp. in 1938.
The Agora, at 5000 Euclid Avenue since 1986, consists of an 1800 seat theater and a ballroom with a capacity of 500. The entrance to the theater is seen on the right, at the far end of the bar, opposite the entrance to the Ballroom. Built as the Metropolitan Theater, an opera house, in 1913, and used as a vaudeville and burlesque theater beginning in 1932, the complex housed radio stations WHK and WMMS from 1951 until 1978. Several other entertainment venues were housed in the complex until Hank LoConti purchased the property to house the Agora Ballroom that had been destroyed by fire two years earlier. The Agora originally opened in Little Italy, early in 1966, and relocated to East 24th Street, to be near Cleveland State University, the following year, where it remained until the fire in 1984.
The building at 5000 Euclid Avenue housed not only the Agora Theater and Ballroom, but the offices of the LoConti entertainment business, and rooms for visiting entertainers. Rental office space was also available. A Cleveland Trust branch occupied the west end of first floor.
In December, 2011, the LoConti family donated the Agora to MidTown Cleveland, a non-profit community development organization. The space formerly occupied by the bank was renovated by the Geis Companies for MidTown Cleveland’s offices. Geis renovated the rest of the building, with the exception of the theater and ballroom.
Additional space throughout the building has been renovated to meet the needs of tenants.
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The main entrance to the vaults beneath the banking floor of the former Cleveland Trust Rotunda, located at East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue. Construction was completed in 1908. Ahead is one of four vaults on this level. The carpeting was removed from the vault area, revealing once-beautiful marble floors. Likewise, the main vault was found to have marble walls on the sides and rear, as you will see when you scroll down through the photographs.
This is one post in a series entitled Renaissance on East 9th Street, documenting the renovation, restoration and transformation of the historic Cleveland Trust complex. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to enter your email address in the space provided in the upper right corner of this page, to receive notification of future Blog posts.