Saturday, September 27, 2008

US 20 in Ohio: Millionaire’s Row

Samuel Andrews Mansion

I just published an entry today in my blog, ”All Things Cleveland”, about Cleveland’s Millionaire’s Row, which I felt was also appropriate to share with fans of US Route 20. Millionaire’s Row was a stretch of US 20 (Euclid Avenue) in Cleveland where, in the later 1800s and early 1900s, some of the wealthiest people in the city and the nation took up residence. Mark Twain, in a 1868 letter, said about Euclid Avenue:

“Cleveland contains one of the finest streets in America -- Euclid avenue. Euclid is buried at one end of it -- the old original Euclid that invented the algebra, misfortune overtake him! It is devoted to dwelling-houses entirely and it costs you $100,000 to "come in." Therefore none of your poor white trash can live in that street. You have to be redolent of that odor of sanctity which comes with cash. The dwellings are very large, are often pretty pretentious in the matter of architecture, and the grassy and flowery "yards" they stand in are something marvellous -- being from one to three hundred feet front and nine hundred feet deep! -- a front on the avenue and another front on Lake Erie.”

Many rich industrialists lived on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland. The most notable was industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller. But Rockefeller made sure that his house was demolished after his death, preferring that to its eventual deterioration.

Due to over industrialization of the area and urban decay, only a few of the original mansions are still standing today.

One thing I didn’t include in my original blog entry was a link to a excerpt from a book “Showplace of America, Euclid Avenue 1850-1910” By Jan Cigliano which includes segments of the book which are available through Google Book Search. While the complete book isn’t online, there are many pages viewable which give a very interesting view, in both text and pictures, of how Euclid Avenue looked when lined with mansions. The book looks like a fitting tribute to a once grand stretch of the longest road in the United States.

If you’d like to see more information on Millionaire’s Row, check out the links below.

Additional reading
”All Things Cleveland: “Cleveland’s Bygone Millionaire’s Row” (includes links to pictures of some of the mansions and list of those still standing)

Euclid Avenue's Million-dollar Legacy

“Showplace of America, Euclid Avenue 1850-1910” By Jan Cigliano, book excerpts from Google Book Search

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

US 20: "Taking Woodstock" Continues Filming on US20

I’ve been following the filming of the movie "Taking Woodsotck" by director Ang Lee, as quite a bit of the filming is being done on and around US Route 20 in New York. Here’s the latest update on filming on location; toward the end it discuses the most recent activities on US 20.

Stephentown gets star turn in Woodstock film
Producers of film about legendary show make use of several areas in town
By BOB GARDINIER, Staff writer
First published: Tuesday, September 16, 2008

STEPHENTOWN -- This rural town is going Hollywood as several locations are used to film the Ang Lee directed movie "Taking Woodstock" over the next few weeks.
On Monday a section of Route 43 was closed near Tinley Road for the filming of a scene depicting the famous traffic jam that occurred at the outset of the August 1969 rock festival in Bethel, Sullivan County.

Hundreds of extras dressed in tie-dyed clothing and loaded into period vehicles clogged a section of the state route near Calvin Cole Road Monday. They came to the site in tour buses to re-create the infamous Route 17B traffic jam that prompted concertgoers nearly 40 years ago to abandon their cars and hoof it to Max Yasgur's alfalfa fields at the junction of Hurd and West Shore roads just off the highway.

"The producers told us they had carried around a picture of the actual traffic jam and when they traveled that section of the road, they stopped in the middle of the road and said 'This is it,' " said Larry Eckhardt, town councilman and liaison between Tuxedo Terrace Films, the company shooting the movie, and town residents.

"They told us that the section of road looked just like Route 17B did in 1969," Eckhardt added.

The film is based on the memoirs of Eliot Tiber who, while managing the bar at the El Monaco Motel in the Catskills in 1969, played a key role in organizing the festival.

According to town officials who met with film producers in late August, they planned to have about 300 extras for the traffic jam scene along with vehicles from the '60s or earlier. The site was prepared and a rehearsal held Sunday, and clean up will be done today.

Eckhardt said later Monday that he had received no complaints from residents along the road. Though the road was closed to traffic most of the day, people who live along the stretch were got special placards to allow them access to their homes, Eckhardt said.

Representatives of the film company did not immediately return calls for comment Monday.

Filming will continue in town early next month when crews take over the old Stephentown Hotel. Work has already been done to make the hotel look like the El Monaco, which was owned by Tiber's parents. Discussions at the hotel bar in 1969 led to the staging of the rock festival.

Filming at the hotel is scheduled for Oct. 6 and 7.

On October 2 and 3, the Evangelical Community Church near the intersection of routes 22 and 43 will have a role in the film.

The church will become a church in Bethel where the Town Council had its meetings in 1969 with much discussion of the rock fest.

Production crews are also working in two fields in Schodack on School House Road off Route 20. One field near Route 20 resembles the large 'bowl' of the original Woodstock site. Workers Monday had rainmaking equipment at the site and a resident, who did not want to be named, said crews were filming the Woodstock mudhole scenes. It rained during the concert turning Yasgur's field into a muddy mess.

Here are the other entries from my US20 blog covering the film:

Taking Woodstock Set Pictures and Filming Information

Woodstock Movie Filming in New Lebanon

A “Taking Woodstock” Update

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

US 20 In Iowa: The US 20 Corridor Association

Image from US 20 Corridor Association

The headline on the The US 20 Corridor Association’s web site says “Go Four It!” That’s because their work is to promote making US Route 20 to four lane service across the state. One goal is to relieve traffic pressures on I-80, which also cuts through the state. And it seems they want to do it right, by being cautious of historical and environmental concerns.

The US 20 Corridor Association’s web site is worth a visit for anyone interested in US 20, and shows they have a deep respect for the nation’s longest road. You can also find links to traffic information, pictures, news, and also a PDF document with their 2008-2012 plan. It’s a very comprehensive look at what is probably a very big undertaking.

Here’s an example of one of the articles written on the web site:

The US Highway 20 Northwest Iowa's Gateway to the World

US Highway 20 was one of the very first coast-to-coast highways in the United States. Starting in downtown Boston, it travels through Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.

US 20 is a direct route from Iowa's manufacturing and food processing industries to the northeastern United States, one of the world's largest and wealthiest markets. US Highway 20 is also a direct route for Iowa's exports to the seaports of the Northwest.

Manufactured products trucked out of northern Iowa include farm machinery, pre-molded counter tops, doors, lamb, turkey, ostrich, pork and beef products, groceries, boat trailers, model airplanes, pet food, rebuilt farm machinery parts, highway construction equipment, consumer dairy products, popcorn, food, furniture, home appliances, computers, truck trailers and bodies, hydraulics, baked goods, grain bins, park equipment, plastic products, home products, glass products, fishing tackle, manufactured homes, snow mobiles, personal water craft, building products, cattle feeders, paint, baseball caps, stained glass architectural products, utility trucks, veterinary and medical products, pharmaceuticals, flowers, recycled paper, plastic and steel, recycling equipment, commercial refrigeration equipment, barbecue sauce, cattle and hog equipment, packaging materials, grain products of various kinds, candy, genetics, ethanol, and a few dozen more.

50% of the millions and millions of bushels of corn and soybeans grown in the area are shipped out of northwest Iowa by truck according to estimates by the CC&P Railroad.

30 of the 109 Iowa companies employing 1000 or more people are located in or have a presence in the 10 counties of the US Highway 20 primary corridor including HyVee, IBP, UPS, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Wells Dairy, Gomaco, VT Industries, Midwest Independent Evapco, and Style Craft. All these are highway dependent companies.

6,645 business establishments are located in the 10 counties of the primary corridor of Highway 20.

11,153 businesses are located in the 19 counties that US 20 serves as an arterial highway feeding to and from I-29 and I-35.

US 20, soon to be completed to four lanes east of I-35, is the primary artery connecting with northwest Iowa' highway system. US Highways 169, 71, 59, and 75, State Highways 10, 18, 4, and 60, and multitude of secondary county roads feed to and from US 20. These primary roads serve the Iowa Great Lakes (Iowa's largest tourist area) and the thousands of businesses and farmers in the northwest part of our state.

US 20 is northwest Iowa's arterial link to the NAFTA main line and connects all North-South interstates in Iowa.

The US 20 route to Chicago from northwest Iowa is approximately 100 miles shorter than taking I-80. At an average trucking cost over a $1.00 per mile the savings per truck load in transportation alone amounts to more than $200.00 per round trip to Chicago and beyond.

Most of northwest Iowa is 60 to 90 miles from a four-lane highway. Today more than ever, one of the basic building blocks of economic growth is not just good transportation, but excellent transportation systems. Economic growth in northwest Iowa means increases in jobs, population, school enrollment, tax base, and the basic wealth of northwest Iowa's people. Economic growth means decreases in costs of welfare and crime.

The economy of northwest Iowa historically has been an important contributor to the state's economic well being. Continuing the economic growth of and turning around the population decline of northwest Iowa is important to the entire state.

The investment in bringing US Highway 20 to full four-lane service across the entire state is an issue of great economic importance to all of Iowa and certainly to the thousands of businesses and hundreds of communities in northwest Iowa.

The real economic benefit is long term. It is measured by lowered transportation cost of moving goods and services into and out of Iowa and by the opportunities for expansion of markets, increases in jobs and population for the entire northern half of Iowa.

Finishing US Highway 20 to a four-lane from Dubuque to Sioux City is a good investment for all of Iowa.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

US 20 In Ohio: Geneva Swamp

Area near Rt 20 and Geneva Swamp (ignore shadow on satellite image)

The Cleveland Plain Dealer did a feature story today about a swampy area just north of US Route 20 in Geneva, Ohio (Ashtabula County), which is now part of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Why all the attention? Because the swamp is very representative of the way the city of Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) looked when Moses Cleaveland first settled in the area, long before US Route 20 (Euclid Avenue) was born. The geology of the area surrounding US Route 20 in the areas east of Cleveland in Lake County and Ashtabula County areas is very interesting. Much of US 20 runs along an old Lake Erie beach ridge (called the Lake Warren Ridge, after the larger, ancient Lake Warren that originally covered the area) that was formed as the glaciers retreated thousands of years ago. I live about ½ mile south of US Route 20 in Lake County, Ohio, and I can confirm that just looking at my own soil that this area had been a beach long ago.

In swampy Geneva land, museum sees Cleveland's history

Posted by Michael Scott September 07, 2008 02:50AM
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Jim Bissell has this fantastical space-time machine. Really.

Here's how it works: You drive 50 miles east of Cleveland to Geneva, go about a half-mile past the train tracks north of town, turn left into a 400-acre bog and find yourself right back in Cleveland -- more than 200 years ago.

"This is time travel -- it really is," gushed Bissell, head of botany and natural areas for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which is gradually adding the swamp to its existing "collection" of thousands of acres across northern Ohio -- from Lorain through Ashtabula counties. "If you want to see what the mouth of the Cuyahoga looked like, come to Geneva swamp and look around.

"This is downtown Cleveland before the buildings."

Like the land discovered by Moses Cleaveland, this marshy area along Lake Erie was cut tens of thousands of years ago by glaciers that left behind sandy ridges and certain types of soil and plant life.

"The sand ridges are where they built roads -- like St. Clair or Route [U.S.] 20 or any number of others," Bissell said. "Did you know there were still frog ponds in downtown Cleveland in the 1930s and wetlands everywhere before they were drained?

"Well, they were there then, and it's kind of neat to see it all out here now -- just in a different place."

But the Geneva wetland is also home to a "globally rare beetle," Bissell said, and could be the "mother lode of interesting species."

For those reasons and more, Bissell believes the several-hundred-acre Geneva swamp is so valuable that he has committed hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last year to bid on portions of it for the museum. The first outright sale of a parcel is expected to close soon, museum officials said, and the others are in negotiations.

It's the same pattern he has followed for dozens of swamps, bogs and other wetlands in more than a half-dozen other northern Ohio counties over the last three decades.

Bissell, 61, became curator of botany at the museum in 1972 and began an aggressive -- but painstakingly patient -- effort to identify key areas in Ohio and Pennsylvania that he and others believed were vital wetlands worth preserving.

The museum's Natural Areas Program now has nearly three dozen nature preserves covering some 4,500 acres. About 1,500 more acres is pledged to the museum by property owners who still have title to their parcels.

"We'll be at 6,000 acres sooner than later if you add it all up," Bissell said.

It is believed to be the only municipal museum conservation effort of such scope in the country, experts have said. In all, the collection-outside-the-museum contains some 200 either rare or state-protected species: 110 plants and 90 fauna -- animals, bugs or other nonplant life.

The Geneva marshland, roughly 400 acres in all, is about three miles south of the Geneva State Park Lodge.

Bissell is negotiating with individual owners and paying for the parcels as he goes, relying on a $426,000 grant from the Kent Smith Charitable Foundation, an amount that must be matched by money raised from museum donors, he said.

Bissell and a handful of others -- both museum staff and volunteers with Northeast Ohio Naturalists, or NEON -- walked the Geneva swamplands one recent morning, cataloging plants, bugs and landforms.

Their constant banter and debate were strangely in harmony with chirping birds, humming cicadas and an intermittent squish-squish underfoot -- all punctuated by a train whistle on the hour.

Bissell said the diversity of an ecosystem, especially wetlands like this Geneva swamp, should be important to the average person for two reasons.

"Most of our pharmaceuticals come from plants, and all around us there is an arsenal of chemicals in these plants and some animals," he said. "Who really knows what the next one might be that helps humans."

The second reason?

"Because no one knows if you take out one species if it will be the one that leads to the unraveling of that ecosystem," said Stanley Stine, a part-time naturalist for the museum and the city of Twinsburg.

For that reason, the museum is involved "in not only acquiring land but in stewardship of the property afterward," Bissell said.

That's also part of the reason he keeps doing "any survey for free for anyone who asks for one." It's a way to find more biodiversity in the region but also a way to make more contacts for future property acquisitions.

"If Jim wasn't saving wetlands in Ohio and Pennsylvania, there wouldn't be wetlands being saved," said John Katko of Friends of Wetlands, another Bissell colleague and volunteer.

"People who own these types of lands know they look beautiful and maybe they like to walk it, but they don't really know everything that it contains," Stine said. "That's where we come in."

Museum preserves Geneva swamp

Jim Bissell will also be co-hosting a “Moss Hunt” at the Geneva Swamp for the Cleveland Natural History Museum on October 11, 2008. It is limited to 20 people, and more information can be found here.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

US 20: Follow "The Long Bike Back"

I wrote about the documentary film “The Long Bike Back” on May 5, here. The trip and film covers brothers Pearson and Peter Constantino, who are biking cross-country on US Route 20 to raise awareness of road safety. Their cross country trip on US Route 20 is in progress, and if you are interested, you can follow their trip on their blog, here, to get updates on their progress, and also see some photos of the areas where they are traveling.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.