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A Time Before Arches

Third Arch Facing East

I have just realized that the arches in the Short North Arts District are fifteen years old. That gave me pause. On the one hand, didn't they go up a few days ago. On the other hand, haven't they been up forever? It is funny how time plays tricks with you. The arches look so right here, as though they grew up out of the sidewalk. After all, they are based on the wooden arches that once graced High Street a hundred years ago. Arches are now showing up in other parts of the city now, although nowhere else with the singular impact of 17 identical arches in a row (the first and seventeenth are slightly different, having SHORT NORTH across the top), especially at night with the subtle colored lights phasing through their programming.

I remember the first night they were lit. It was spectacular. My husband sprained his ankle when he tripped whilst gawking. They weren't as bright as we were hoping, but they were lovely. The controller was in the basement of one of Sandy Wood's buildings, which seems so quaint now. It only took about a month before we realized something was wrong. The arches started to fritz out. The below grade housings were not watertight AND not properly vented so water was getting in, but heat was not getting out. They slowly died. But, we rationalized, they STILL look great during the day! Lawsuits were filed. And, over the years, settled. And it did take years. We were promised things, like having the arches restored to their full dancing colors glory. And then, at the end, we were offered aches that basically had an on/off switch and came in white. Not acceptable, we said. But we had to sacrifice visitor kiosks to get the color programming (we did get the kiosks eventually, and they are fantastic). What you see now is the new and improved lit arches. The programs have to be vetted by the city and the controller is downtown somewhere. But they are lit. They are colorful. They do delineate and define the neighborhood. I can't imagine the area without them.

Third Arch Facing West

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