CLEVELAND - At some point during the course of the year, most Northeast Ohioans will find themselves passing the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on Public Square. Thousands will take the time to actually tour the inside, but only a few hundred each year will go where few others have and that is below the monument.
It's a labyrinth of passageways with exposed brick and stone, telling the history of Cleveland that is often forgotten.
"If you're familiar with the European Cathedral building system, same architectural design," said Tim Daley the monument's executive director.
"What's interesting about the concentric circles that make up the basement is it's actually functional and it's meant to support the 140 tons of the black Quincy granite and the 125-foot tall shaft," he said.
"I don't know how long they are, there's approximately two outer concentric circles that's where we take people through and then on the inside there's another ring that surrounds the main area the shaft. So there's approximately three concentric circles, two of which we allow people to come visit."
The tour he provides is one that you can take on Saturday, April 21 when the monument opens up it's lower level for one day only for tunnel tours that traditionally had been offered in the past in October.
"We moved them forward so that we can give people who couldn't come in October an opportunity to come but more importantly as a way to kick-start the season," Daley said.
"It's first come, first served. We're scheduled to start at 10 a.m., last year we started having people get in line around 9:15-9:30 a.m.," Daley said. "We take between 25 and 30 people in at a time, everybody who is in line by 5 p.m. is guaranteed a tour, we stay open until everybody gets a tour, we don't start cutting the tours short."
Last year around 900 people took part in the tours. "Most people have always said we never knew we could come in here and once they come they become repeat customers," Daley said.
"We'll start on the outside, we'll have a waiting area and as people are waiting we'll have an interpreter there that will start to begin to give you the history of the planning of the monument and once you come in here you'll spend 15-20 minutes down here in the basement with another interpreter, you'll be able to see this unique space and then afterwards you'll go upstairs into the marble memorial room which is where we did our $2 million rehab in 2009."
The tunnel tours like the monument itself are free of charge.