Let’s play word association: Think of the word “Greyhound.” Chances are, the terms “sleek,” “aerodynamic,” and “futuristic” are not likely to jump to mind. Decades ago, however, they may well have. Not too long after the automobile and road travel gained wider public acceptance, Greyhound was one of the forward-looking companies seeking to captivate those who wanted to go far distances on America’s roads and to make such travel accessible for all. The best of smooth, fast, and sleek long-distance highway trips didn’t have to be reserved for the well-to-do.
From the Post-Depression 1930s to after World War II into the 1950s, Greyhound aggressively promoted an image of speedy, convenient, and exciting travel through its buses and various stations that the company built in cities and towns. These days, it may be hard for some to consider such stations and buses as anything more than an afterthought when bus trips too often conjure images of interstate fast-food, vending machine donuts, and stations with the charm of drive-in banks. Not so that time period, however. During this ambitious expansion, many Greyhound buses and stations were in the Streamline Moderne design, a single, unified symbol of sleek movement and modernity.
The Greyhound station on a winter night
This history is likely unknown to many, and one that I literally rode into just after the Christmas holidays when I arrived at the Cleveland Greyhound bus station, just on the eastern edge of downtown. The station, which the transport company opened in 1948, is in the Streamline Moderne style. It’s a still-busy terminal that Greyhound’s go-to architect of the period, William S. Arrasmith, designed. Cleveland’s was the most ambitious the company constructed for this purpose following World War II, and it was the last for which Arrasmith employed the Streamline Moderne style, according to Docomomo International, a key organization for the preservation of modernist architecture. [Read more →]