According to local legend, the Cleveland Arcade was born because John D. Rockefeller wanted to shop indoors.
In the late 1880s, Rockefeller and other rich Clevelanders teamed up to finance the construction of the Arcade, an indoor shopping and office complex modeled on Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. They built two nine-story towers side-by-side, and enclosed a five-story arcade beneath a 300-foot-long glass skylight.
When it opened in 1890, the bright, ornate interior was one of the first indoor shopping malls in America, a place where Cleveland shoppers could find respite from Lake Effect snow and summer heat waves. It became known as “Cleveland’s Crystal Palace.”
Today, a Hyatt Regency hotel occupies the top floors of the Arcade. The bottom two floors are retail and restaurants. The Arcade is one of the few remaining structures of its kind left in America, but oddly, two others are right across the street. The Colonial and Euclid Arcades, (now combined as the 5th Street Arcades) built a decade later, are lower and less opulent, but still gorgeous.