The Great Lakes Exposition
Held in the summers of 1936 and 1937, the Great Lakes Exposition was sprawled over 135 acres of land near Cleveland's lakefront from W. 3rd St. to E. 20th St.
Organized to celebrate the centennial year of the incorporation of the city of Cleveland, the Great Lakes Exposition sought to highlight "the material, social and cultural progress which has been achieved in the Great Lakes Region in the past 100 years" and to "indicate the paths of progress for the future."1
The Exposition featured hundreds of attractions, including rides, sideshows, botanical gardens, cafes, and more. In 1937, the Expo added an aquacade with water ballet shows featuring celebrities Johnny Weissmuller and Eleanor Holm.
Some of the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio industries represented at the Expo included the White Motor Company, the Standard Oil Company, Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, Sherwin Williams, not to mention appearances by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s ever-popular blimp.
The Special Collections Department of the Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University makes available a variety of resources that document the history and events of the Exposition. Many of the materials, including 150+ photographs and color postcards have been digitized and are available for viewing on-line.
So take a step back in time and enjoy the sights of what was, without question, one of the most remarkable and beloved events in Cleveland history…
- Photographs and Postcards - View images from the Cleveland Press, Charles L. Bradley and Walter C. Leedy Postcard collection
- Streaming Video - Watch a rare video consisting of two parts. The first part, approximately four and one-half minutes long, contains rare, historical footage of the Great Lakes Exposition of 1936 and 1937.
- Memorabilia - Photos of Edward Oshaben's personal collection of Great Lakes Exposition memorabilia, previously on display at the Michael Schwartz Library.
- Additional Resources for Further Study:
- The Great Lakes Exposition entry from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
- Maps of the Exhibition - available in Special Collections, Michael Schwartz Library
- Ohio Memory Exposition Holdings - includes, digitized souvenir booklets, maps & postcards
1Great Lakes Exposition Official Souvenir Guide, 1936.
Thanks to Maya Shumyatcher from Hawken School in Lyndhurst, Ohio, who digitized, researched and cataloged images on this site from the Charles L. Bradley Great Lakes Exposition photo collection as part of her Senior Project in the spring of 2010 and to Vern Morrison of the Digital Production Unit at the Michael Schwartz Library who provided much of the text for this page.