Memorable Events

Lakeland Freeway

Rush hour traffic through Bratenahl became horrendous. The intrusion of the workday world caused enormous disruption for Bratenahl. The endless flow of commuters on Lake Shore Boulevard prevented villagers from coming and going with ease. Crossing the boulevard could require at least a fifteen-minute wait. Regulations of traffic at cross streets and bottlenecks became an onerous chore for the police. Weekends saw little let-up in the parade of cars as sightseers and amusement-seekers took to the roads. Captain Clarke asked the council to employ five extra police officers to help out on Sundays in 1917. Accidents and incidents of reckless driving abounded.

In the mid-1920s, the council took costly steps to alleviate traffic congestion by widening Lake Shore Boulevard to 26 feet. A decade later, Bratenahl sought county assistance to expand the boulevard to three lanes. The planned improvement would allow westbound commuters in the morning and eastbound commuters in the evening to drive two abreast. Unfortunately, the three-lane concept drew a stern warning from the National Shade Tree Conference to not do anything to endanger the elm trees. Boulevard residents also lacked enthusiasm for the project, but everyone else rejoiced.

Unfortunately, the widening and curbing of Lake Shore Boulevard did not serve to ease congestion. By the early 1940s, rush-hour traffic had increased to an estimated 2,500 cars per day.

A citizen's committee led by villager Edgar Hahn had years before identified as an alternative solution. In 1927, Cleveland and Bratenahl proposed a 125-foot wide "speed highway" be built through the village immediately north of the railroad tracks from Gordon Park to East 140th Street. Hahn had secured villagers' agreement to donate the necessary land and underwrite half the construction costs, evidence of just how desperately Bratenahl desired relief. Although essentially a "highway to nowhere," the project won county approval, only to be put on hold by the Great Depression.

The Depression and World War II delayed constructing an alternative route through Bratenahl for nearly two decades.

Bulldozers finally began to clear land for the Lakeland Freeway in the summer of 1946, cutting a swath of destruction through the south end of Bratenahl. The Bratenahl section of the six-lane highway was completed in 1949, including the Eddy Road interchange.

The Lakeland Freeway removed 32 acres of land south of the freeway. Questions of what to do with this land continued to puzzle generations of villagers.

When finally completed, the Lakeland Freeway caused more lasting injury to the village. The freeway blockaded the eastern ends of Foster and Burton Avenues, which had terminated initially at East 105th Street. Families nearest the freeway lost the pleasure of their backyards.

The freeway's din was a constant, often loud presence throughout the village until somewhat muffled by the construction of a 15-foot-high sound barrier in the early 1990s.