The History of the FirstEnergy Powerhouse

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The FirstEnergy Powerhouse has been around since 1892 and has played host to a variety of businesses throughout the years. However, in 2012 Marinescape NZ Limited, which is a New Zealand based company, and Jacobs Entertainment brought the aquarium to life. It was important to Marinescape to keep the original landscape and structure of the powerhouse, which is why today you see many exhibits built within the smoke stacks and exposed industrial piping.

Originally, the Powerhouse was built to manage and control electric streetcars and railways.  Designed by a Cleveland architect John Richardson, the Powerhouse became one of Cleveland’s most recognizable icons in the 1880s.

The Powerhouse was the first power plant to give electricity to streetcars in Cleveland; it doubled in space in 1901 to meet the need of more streetcar lines. However, it did not prosper due to the rise of automobiles in the 1920s and the Powerhouse closed.

Despite the basement level now being home to the Aquarium, the character of Cleveland’s past can still be seen.  The building is known for the tall smoke stacks and large artistically arched windows, which continue to be a part of the beautiful charm of the building. The iconic smokestacks are now part of our Discovery Zone exhibit, which is home to our moon jellyfish.  Gaze above into the displays as the jellies float in a glowing environment and learn about their life cycle in the adjacent exhibits.

Our main shark exhibit is home to our 170-ft long underwater SeaTube. This exhibit holds 250,000 gallons of water and is home to four species of sharks! The contrast between the exposed steel atmosphere and flowing water creates an innovative environment for visitors to explore, along with seeing how the original foundation of a Cleveland landmark is incorporated into the new architecture for the displays and exhibits.