Cleveland Public Square
Raytraces + Reference Photos

Cleveland, Ohio, summer 1931

Sunset after a storm,
Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio,
Summer 1931.

Cleveland, Ohio, summer 1931

This is the daytime version of my "Sunset" entry to
the March-April 2000 round of IRTC.

These Cleveland photos were taken 16-April-2000

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...300mm zoom...

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Sunset after a storm, Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio, summer 1931.

The new Terminal Tower looms in the distance across the square. The streetcars are waiting for the baseball game to end at old League Park.

Until the 1960's, the Terminal Tower was the tallest building between New York and Chicago, and the 5th tallest in the US. It was built in the 1920's as part of a coordinated railroad station and rapid transit project, located at the southwest corner of Public Square, atop a large union station. It was a small part of a larger complex incorporating the railroad station, rapid transit, department store, luxury hotel, and several large office buildings.

Public Square is a large four-quadrant area, which has always been a transportation hub for the city. Until the early 1950's, it was a maze of streetcar tracks, many of which still exist below newer pavement.

There were 5 large pagoda-style waiting shelters scattered around the square. The distant trolley is on the street running through the center of the square, and is only half the distance to the bank building. The stone block pavement was originally the full width of the streets, but was later reduced to just the width of the tracks.

The fences in the square are only about 18 inches (0.5 M) high, to protect the grass and flower garden areas.

The column with statue is the top part of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, commemorating the US Civil War, which was a very traumatic event for the young country. The statue is Victory, a Wagnerian looking dame holding a medieval shield and a 19th century sword, in bronze. Not visible behind the cars is the lower part of the Monument, a square stone building containing a small historical exhibit, surrounded by large action figure statuary groups.

The massive lamp posts were required because they also supported the heavy network of trolley wires, under significant tension. Note that the wire goes around curves in a series of straight segments. It was entertaining to watch the trolley poles follow the kinks in the wire and to listen to the big blue sparks.

If the scene looks familiar, it may be because Cleveland was the location for filming the movie "Christmas Story".


I have posted some recent reference photos on my website, at:


All objects are CSG, except the statue and brick pavement.


The sky is a sunset photograph I took last summer, after a big storm, applied as an orthogonal image map on the sky-sphere. Using the sky sphere projects an ambient light color on the entire scene.


In order to fit the tower in the scene, the camera was placed as far as possible from the tower, at the north east side of the square. A wide camera angle (70 degrees) was used to fit the tower in the scene without exceeding the actual dimensions of the square. This results in some edge distortion, as would be seen with a real wide angle lens.


All CSG. These were the earliest of the "modern" streetcars, developed in Cleveland, then copied in many other cities. Since the prototype cars were numbered in the 900 series, I gave them good Porsche numbers.


Windows were done as a vertical gradient, alternating marble and chrome for each floor, with vertical pilasters applied to the faces.

The design of the bank building is a guess, as it has been torn down, and I was unable to find a clear photo of the front. For some reason, every other building on the square is extensively documented, except the bank.

The buildings had to be simplified somewhat, since the object count was getting too large.


Stone paving blocks represented by a brick pattern heightfield, which was itself created in POV.


Robe made with Spatch, all else is CSG. I used the current coloring, gloss black, although I remember that it used to be green bronze oxide.

Copyright 2000, 2004

Dave Merchant