Standing on The Arcade looking into the building through the 300-foot-long glass skylight, it's easy to see why Cleveland companies were intimidated about taking on such a job.
"They couldn't get anybody to bid on this project, because they said it couldn't be done," says Sarah Hawkins, the property's manager and marketing coordinator. It was a "source of embarrassment," she adds, that an out-of-town firm took on the challenge.
The Detroit Bridge Co. spanned the two sides of the arcade with 1,600 panes of glass set in iron framing.
When the building opened in 1890, it was the first indoor shopping mall in the U.S. and an architectural triumph. The new skylight, completed in 2001 by Marous Brothers Construction, is 3-inch-thick, shatterproof glass that's strong enough to walk on.