The Cleveland Aquarium


Octopi, sharks, piranhas…and police dogs?  The Cleveland Aquarium, once repurposed into a police dog training facility, has been vacant for decades.  It was built in the 1930’s as the Gordon Park Bath House, and was converted into a very successful public aquarium with an impressive collection of creatures in 1954.  It closed in 1986 not for lack of visitors, but because the structure had grown unsafe, and was then used as a K9 training facility for the Cleveland Police until it grew too dangerous for both species of cops as well.


The facility is located at the lakefront Gordon Park, which also features several playgrounds.  Cleveland’s ABC5 did a story last year on the unlocked doors and potential dangers within, prompting…absolutely nothing, despite Cleveland City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson’s promise to have it taken care of within 48 hours. [x]  The doors were still open during our 2016 visit.

Things have certainly declined since the news crew visited, and many of the artifacts have been stolen.  Still, the midcentury modern architecture, leftover documents from the K9 unit, and some of the semi-intact tanks proved it to be a very interesting location.


(We spent a half hour in this spot, changing a flat tire in Cleveland’s onslaught of brutal, lakefront winter wind.)

Historic images and source text from They’ve got a pretty amazing gallery of its glory days, if you’re interested.


22 thoughts on “The Cleveland Aquarium

  1. The contrast in these photos are absolutely breathtaking. The light from the next room draws you into the next photo. It was like actually walking through the abandoned building. Stunning photos and a great attitude. Thank you for sharing these masterpieces.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The pictures remind me of the neighborhood that I grew up in in Baltimore Maryland. I no longer live in Maryland , but when I go back and visit I experience the same feeling that I get when I look at these pictures. I have fond memories of a flourishing neighborhood when I was a youth. Now to see it reminds me of that commercial I use to see about littering in America. you know the one. The Indian standing on the side of the highway and a car passing by throws trash out at his feet. All I remember is him standing there with the tears in his eyes. That’s a powerful feeling!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nostalgia is my favorite part of it, even if it isn’t my own. Vicarious nostalgia! Thank you for sharing your reaction, that was indeed a powerful commercial and its good to hear my work elicits an emotional response.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your pictures are so eerily amazing, some of them make me stop and just study the picture thinking, a good setting for a story idea. I love your pictures

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for visiting Cleveland on your journeys! My Parents took me here when I was pretty young.I don’t remember much about the visit there,but I do drive by it a few times a week and think about my folks,and wonder what my life was like back then.

    Liked by 1 person

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