Cleveland’s downtown skyline influenced Superman, but not in the way most Clevelanders think. A local legend claims the AT&T Building on Huron Road, formerly the Ohio Bell Building, was Joe Shuster’s model for The Daily Planet, the newspaper building where Clark Kent and Lois Lane worked.
Actually, the Planet and the architecture of Metropolis were based on Shuster’s childhood memories of the skyline of Toronto, where his family lived until 1924, when he was 10.
“Cleveland was not nearly as metropolitan as Toronto was, and it was not as big or as beautiful,” Shuster told The Toronto Star in 1992. “Whatever buildings
I saw in Toronto remained in my mind and came out in the form of Metropolis.”
The Cleveland skyscraper that really inspired Siegel and Shuster was the Terminal Tower, 708 feet tall and brand-new in the early 1930s.
“We would walk all the way downtown because we could not afford street-car fares,” Siegel recalled in a 1988 letter to Mayor George Voinovich. “We looked up at Cleveland’s Terminal Tower and visualized a costumed figure (who had not yet seen print) whizzing through the sky around it and then alighting atop it. On a secret, tremendously important mission, no doubt.”
Superman, one of the world’s best-known characters, has inspired decades of Man of Steel merchandise. Each generation has reimagined Superman and his city. This Metropolis toy set from the 2000s includes a Daily Planet with Art Deco flourishes much more extreme than the Planet’s supposed models in Cleveland and Toronto.
|The Terminal Tower, at 708 feet, was the tallest building outside New York City when it was built in 1927. Remember how Superman could “leap tall buildings in a single bound?” He couldn’t fly in the early comics, but he could leap one-eighth of a mile — about the height of the Terminal Tower.
Cleveland State University Special Collections
|Its Art Deco style, with cascading setbacks and dentils (toothlike points), reminds Clevelanders of the Daily Planet, but the Ohio Bell Building was not Shuster’s skyscraper model.
Cleveland Public Library
|Some claim the old Toronto Star building was the real model for The Daily Planet building. That’s not true, either — it wasn’t built until 1929, five years after Shuster moved to Cleveland. But The Daily Planet was originally named The Daily Star — Shuster’s homage to the Toronto paper that introduced him to comics.
Collection of Brad Ricca
in the cle
12:00 AM EST
December 24, 2008