Midwest Living Review
The attacks on New York City's World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, prompted Cleveland officials to close the city's highest perch, a 42nd-floor observatory on the 52-floor Tower City Center building. Since 1929, generations of Clevelanders came here to drink in 360-views of the Cuyahoga River, the city skyline, the ring of parks surrounding Cleveland and, of course, Lake Erie. Part of the building's $40 million renovation restored this tourist attraction (which holds 50 visitors at a time) to the way it looked during its heyday in the 1930s, and limited-engagement runs have enabled small groups of tourists to see the results. The observation deck opened in July 2010 for weekends only, charging adults $5 each and assigning them a particular time to arrive and queue up in the Tower City lobby for the trip up (visitors change elevators before they reach the 42nd floor). Our visit in October 2010 snagged spaces on the last trip of the day. We enjoyed shuffling from window to window behind families with parents and grandparents who where rhapsodic about the chance to return to this perch and gaze out at their city. (Until 1964, this was the tallest building in the country outside of New York.) We enjoyed the view, too, and had to remind ourselves not to compare a site like this to Chicago's Hancock Observatory or Willis Tower Skydeck. Tower City's observatory isn't about the latest hook to get people through the door; it's about celebrating Cleveland's history and local pride in its skyline. And that alone is worth the price of admission. Just call before you go -- it's not open all of the time.