Cleveland’s Abandoned Aquarium Demolished After Years Of Abandonment

The Fall of a Maritime Marvel: Dismantling the Old Cleveland Aquarium

The former Cleveland Aquarium, a cherished landmark located off the Shoreway in Gordon Park South, Cleveland, Ohio, has recently met with the wrecking ball. Once bustling with aquatic life and curious visitors, the aquarium had been a significant part of Cleveland’s cultural landscape since its inception in 1954. However, the decaying edifice, which had been sitting vacant for decades, was demolished in late October 2023, marking the end of an era while making way for new developments.

abandoned cleveland aquarium
abandoned cleveland aquarium
abandoned cleveland aquarium

Historical Background:

The Cleveland Aquarium opened its doors to the public on February 6, 1954, and quickly became a city treasure. The aquarium was home to a myriad of marine life, offering a window into the underwater world to its visitors. However, structural problems led to its closure in June 1985, and it officially ceased operations on April 1, 1986. Post-closure, its exhibits found a new home at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the former aquarium site was repurposed as a dog training facility for the Cleveland Police Department.

abandoned cleveland aquarium
abandoned cleveland aquarium
abandoned cleveland aquarium

After its closure, the once-vibrant edifice fell into a state of disrepair. The building, which had been a significant part of Cleveland’s cultural heritage, became a distant memory. Over the years, nature reclaimed its grounds, and the aquarium became synonymous with decay, a poignant reminder of the passage of time.


After decades of neglect, the decision was made to demolish the old aquarium. The demolition, which took place in late October 2023, was seen by many as a bittersweet moment. It was not just the dismantling of a structure, but the (unfortunately necessary) destruction of a piece of Cleveland’s rich maritime history. The news of the demolition was covered by local media outlets, reflecting on the rich history of the aquarium and what it once meant for the community.

While the structure is no more, the memories and historical significance of the Cleveland Aquarium will continue to resonate with locals and those who knew the building. The space, once teeming with marine life and human interaction, now makes way for new beginnings.

Full photo gallery here:

See more photos and my previous post about the aquarium here

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