Frank R. Walker
(1877–1949), the architect responsible for such Cleveland landmarks as Cleveland Public Library, the Federal Reserve Bank, Public Auditorium, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Epworth-Euclid Methodist Church, the original Municipal Stadium, and the Lorain-Carnegie (now renamed Hope Memorial) Bridge. Seen more widely as specialists in bank buildings, having designed more than 60 throughout Ohio, the firm of Walker and Weeks (est.1911) was to become Cleveland’s foremost architectural firm in the1920s, known for its monumental work done in the Classical Revival Style.
The basic structure of the great bridge that spans the Cuyahoga at the transition point of Carnegie Avenue and Lorain Road, which opened in 1932, was designed by the engineering firm of Wilbur J. Watson with 13 cantilever truss spans varying in length from 299′ over the river to 132′ at the ends. A lower deck, intended to carry four lanes of vehicular traffic and two streetcar tracks, was never completed. But it was Frank Walker who, as consulting architect, was to give the structure its iconic character. One of the variations from strict engineering necessity he introduced was the curving of the lower edge of the trusses to give a more pleasing arched appearance; but his signal contribution was the four massive stone pylons carved with eight larger-than-life figures in bass relief that represent the Guardians of Traffic (or, as cab driver novelist Mike DeCapite has more poetically dubbed them, the Muses of Transportation). Designed by Walker and sculpted by Henry Hering, they took the form of transitional figures between the stylized classicism of the city’s characteristic skyline and the Modernistic or Art Deco style of the early Thirties.
The Guardians of Traffic: Stone cutters pose on one of the magnificent pylons bound for Hope Memorial Bridge c.1931 (Western Reserve Historical Society)