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The Worlds Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1936-37 Great Lakes Exposition - Part 2


Index - Bookmarking Instructions


  • The only pages on the Internet dedicated to the 1936-37 Great Lakes Exposition.

  • 84 facts and trivia nuggets.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • This is page is Part 2 of 2.



 This Page
Winterland (7) Largest Book in the World (1)
Silver Half Dollar (9) The Stadium (9)
Miscellaneous (5) Links, Resources, Sources (4)
  Books, Printed Material (2)
Page I
Cleveland: A Brief History (3) Statistics (16)
Main Sections (4) Exhibits and Attractions (30)
The following are on the World's Fair CD
High Resolution Images (11) Bonus: Timeline 1936-37 (59)





  • Compared to a New York Broadway Show and one of the bigger attractions in 1937, was Billy Rose's Aquacade "Winterland". It featured a 128 foot floating stage with a 40 foot high curtain of water and 4 story high dives. Along with a cast of 150 swimmers.

  • The original stage, stationary in 1936, was converted by Billy Rose in 1937 into a floating theatre restaurant. You could dine and enjoy the show, then afterward the floor would be moved back and you could dance to the Big Band. High tech and glamorous for the 1930s.

  • The floating stage was along the Lake Erie shoreline and was pulled back and forth by cables. This would 'stir-up' anything along the bottom of the water and lead to swimmers doing the "Lake Erie Stroke", in which "you pushed stuff away so it didn't get in your mouth". Barrels of chlorine would be poured in before each show.

  • Stories of 'frantic minnows' frequently locating themselves in Eleanor Holm's rubber bathing suit during shows and 'triggering burst's of speed' were numerous.

  • Intrigue behind the scenes: An affair between Eleanor Holm and Billy Rose. At the time Eleanor Holm was married to singer and bandleader Art Jarrett. And Billy Rose was married to singer and comedian Fanny Brice. Billy Rose later married Eleanor Holm.

  • Main stars were: Johnny "Aquadonis Number One" Weissmuller, Eleanor "Aquabelle Number One" Holm and Sally "Bubble Dance" Rand.

  • The former 5000 seat floating theatre restaurant is now the Great Lakes Science Center.



The Cleveland Great Lakes Exposition Silver Half Dollar


  • Submitted on May 5th, 1936 and approved by the Federal Commission of Fine Arts on June 2, 1936. It was designed by Brenda Putnam and produced in a single mintage of 50,030 at one location. The first 25,000 Cleveland half dollars were minted in July 1936 with another 25,000 minted in February 1937. The remaining 30 coins were for the Assay Commission (15 for each run) and later destroyed. Both production runs carry the 1936 date.

  • Coins remaining after the Exposition were sold in quantities "at slightly over face value" to dealers. Thus making this issue plentiful in mint condition.

  • The obverse has a bust of Moses Cleaveland facing left with his name and the motto LIBERTY, the two inscriptions are arranged in an arc and separated by three stars. In "peripheral arcs" are UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above and HALF DOLLAR below. The sculptor's initials BP are located below the bust.

  • The reverse displays "an aerial map of the 5 Great Lakes with nine stars representing the major Lakeport cities". A compass is placed above with its axis pointing toward Cleveland. The mottoes IN GOD WE TRUST and E PLURIBUS UNUM appear in the field. Around the periphery are GREAT LAKES EXPOSITION and CLEVELAND CENTENNIAL, separated by the dates 1836 and 1936.

  • The first 201 coins struck were placed in numbered and notarized holders signed by Thomas G Melish. In 1941, 100 Cleveland halves were counterstamped on both sides by the Western Reserve Numismatic Club to mark its 20th anniversary. In 1971, the WRNC counterstamped 15 Cleveland halves in honor of its golden anniversary. These counterstamped halves are rare and eagerly sought by commemorative collectors.

Other Coin Facts:

  • Ironically, the coin was sold at the Great Lakes Exposition but had no official connection with the Expo. It was offered on the exposition grounds at $1.50 per coin and sold through the mail at $1.65 postpaid. 

  • The original plan called for multiple designs.

  • This half dollar was one of seventeen commerative coins issued during 1936, which is considered to be the peak of "commemorative mania".

  • For more information and a photo, Cleveland Half Dollar from



The Stadium




  • Constructed in 1931 in a failed attempt to host the 1932 Olympics, the Stadium was used in conjunction with the Great Lakes Exposition to promote the story of the steel industry in the region and the contributions it had made to the nation's progress. 

  • It was one of only five major league baseball and football stadiums in the United States that have been nominated for National Historic Landmark designation.

  • The first event of consequence to take place in the completed stadium was the heavyweight boxing bout between Max Schmeling and Young Stribling on July 3, 1931; Schmeling knocked out Stribling and retained the heavyweight championship before a crowd of 37,396.

  • The largest crowd attendance at the Stadium occurred during the Benediction service of the 1935 Seventh Eucharistic Congress of the Roman Catholic Church on September 25, 1935. A crowd of over 125,000 filled the Stadium.

  • The name of the baseball team, associated with the National and American League, changed several times until 1915 when the team was renamed to the Indians after Luis Francis Sockalexis. A team member in the 1890's who was the first Native American to play professional baseball.

  • The Indians first game at the Stadium was on July 31,1932 before a crowd of 80,184. The largest crowd to date to watch a professional baseball game.

  • First night game was held on June 27, 1939.

  • The structure was 116 feet tall (ten stories) and represented the first use of aluminum in a large, multipurpose stadium facility (over 130,000 pounds). Most of the large stadiums built during the early 20th century used galvanized sheet steel.

  • It cost $2.5 million to build in 1931 and $2.9 million to knock it down in the late 1990s. During the demolition welders touched off a fire that burned part of the seating area.



Largest Book in the World


  • The largest book in the world is purportedly "The Golden Book of Cleveland". Measuring five feet by seven feet it contains 6,000 pages for signatures and weighed approximately two and half tons. This tome was manufactured by the L .L. Brown Paper Company of Adams, Massachusetts for The Great Lakes Exposition. And believe it or not, the whereabouts of this book are presently unknown. How do you lose a 2 ton book?

  • Tome = One of the books in a work of several volumes.



Miscellaneous Information


  • The idea of a lakefront airport in Cleveland was conceived of during the Great Lakes Exposition of 1936.

  • Transportation throughout the Exposition grounds was available by Intramural, open air buses and single and double rickshaw and wheel-chairs pushed by college boys.

  • The newspapers gave the Expo tremendous coverage. And along with the Republican Convention, the Townsendites and the Coughlinites, and Eliot Ness 'cleaning up' Cleveland, the economy was booming with tourism and a second year quickly become a reality.

  • The exposition was the idea of Frank J. Ryanand Lincoln G. Dickey (the city's first public hall commissioner). Dudley S. Blossombecame chairman of a civic committee that contributed $1.5 million to transformthe idea into reality

  • Competed with the San Diego 1935-36 Exposition.


Links, Resources, Sources




Books, Printed Material


  • Official Guide Book, 1936.

  • Official Souvenir Guide, 1936.

  • Official Guide Book, 1937.



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