Finding aid for the Van Sweringen Company Photographs

Repository: Western Reserve Historical Society
Creator: Van Sweingen Company
Title: Van Sweringen Company Photographs
Dates: 1910-1930
Extent: 0.40 linear feet (2 containers)
Abstract: The Van Sweringen Company (f. 1905) was a joint venture in Cleveland, Ohio, of brothers M. J. and O. P. Van Sweringen. The company's focus was primarily land development, as well as investments in the railroad industry. The company developed land that had been part of the North Union Shaker Community in the nineteenth century, creating Shaker Village, which eventually became Shaker Heights, Ohio. The Van Sweringens were the driving force in the construction of Cleveland's Terminal Tower building and Union Station. They developed the rapid transit line that connects much of the greater Cleveland area to downtown for ease of access for Shaker Village residents to travel from their homes to downtown. Shaker Heights was one of the very few planned suburbs of its time. There were strict building and construction guidelines, and the land was not developed on a grid, but with winding roads and other sophisticated flourishes that made it an appealing place of residence, especially those who owned automobiles. The Van Sweringens started by developing transportation lines throughout Shaker and what is now Cleveland Heights before extending their reach to downtown. They bought 51% interest in a 523 mile stretch of railroad track from the New York Central Railroad in 1915. From this point on, they extended their reach in the railroad industry and continued to invest in other companies, eventually controlling 30,000 miles of track. After they had successfully taken control of rights to build track through downtown Cleveland, they then began construction on Union Station and Terminal Tower. The Tower was originally intended as a new space for offices and businesses. Before the Depression, the value of the brothers' holdings was estimated to be $3 billion. After the Depression, the value plummeted drastically. M. J. died in 1934, and O. P. never quite recovered from the loss. He died just two years later. The collection consists of a drawing, a scrapbook, and photographic prints of varying sizes. All together, the collection consists of approximately 268 photographs.
PG Number PG 565
Location: closed stacks
Language: The records are in English