The mayhem began Saturday at 4 a.m. After a night of fruitless negotiations, the 850-member union of Cleveland's Big Consolidated streetcar company went on strike. Management refused to negotiate, and the employees took to the streets.
On the strike's third day, a streetcar turned onto Euclid Avenue from Public Square and was swarmed by a mob of several thousand. The car was forced to stop in front of William Taylor, Sons and Co. dry goods store (the former May Co. building). With rotten vegetables, eggs and rocks flying overhead, strikers cajoled the nonunion motorman into leaving his post. The cheering crowd turned ugly, though, as the mob tried to drag the rest of the nonunion men off the car. Police were repeatedly forced to step in and disperse the crowd.
By 1:30 p.m., the strikers changed tactics, recruiting young women to seduce the strikebreakers to their cause. Those who fell to temptation rode away on the crowd's shoulders. "The cheers could be heard for blocks," proclaimed the June 13, 1899, Plain Dealer.
More than a month of strikes and violence paralyzed the city, delaying mail delivery and cutting off commuters. State troops had to be called in to bring calm. By fall, the unresolved strike fizzled. As a new century dawned, the streetcars ran on time once again.