Monday, May 14, 2018

Meanwhile, at the (real) Hall of Justice…

I suspect I am the first person who has taken a photo like this:

The explanation will tickle some and scare others.

The first line of the opening theme of season one of Super Friends (1973) is "In the great Hall of the Justice League, there are assembled the world's four greatest heroes, created from the cosmic legends of the universe." 

This was tweaked slightly for the second incarnation (The All-New Super Friends Hour, 1977): "Gathered together from the cosmic reaches of the universe, here in this great Hall of Justice, are the most powerful forces of good ever assembled."

In both cases, the first name-drop is not any of the characters but rather their headquarters, created for the show. That great Hall of Justice was so great, it became a star in its own right. 

And it's based on a building in Cincinnati: what was originally called Union Terminal, a distinctive Art Deco train station built in 1933.

Soon after, the dominance of rail service waned. Union Terminal was then repurposed multiple times (once as a mall and currently as a multi-purpose facility including museums, a library, and an IMAX theater). In between reinventions, it remained unoccupied. It evaded demolition at least once and is now protected with landmark status (granted only a few months before Super Friends debuted). 

You may think me batty (or not), but not only did I make a special trip from Dayton (where I spent a week for school visits) to Cincinnati (one hour one way) to see it, but before the Dayton schools brought me to Ohio, I even tried to book speaking engagements in Cincinnati (where I'd never been) so I could go to Union Terminal. 

I did so the warm weekend afternoon of 5/12/18. The site is under renovation so I did not get an unobstructed view. Therefore, unfortunately, my photos have fences and equipment in the background—but no people, because the place was deserted. It was surreal enough to be standing before the real-life Hall of Justice and even more so to be there alone. 

But then around 5:30 pm, people began dropping off kids with sleeping bags…turns out the Girl Scouts were holding a sleepover there that night. Gathered together from the city limits of Cincinnati…

Side note (literally): the building is adjacent to Kenner Street, which I found apropos in that Kenner was the toy company that produced Super Powers action figures. The line launched in 1984, a tie-in to the last two incarnations of the Super Friends cartoon.

I owned the first two waves of figures, and as you saw at the top, I still have them. I dug them out so I could bring the original five Super Friends for this geeky photo shoot. (I even remember the order of some of the purchases from when I was 12. The first figure I got was Joker. The next two were Green Lantern and Aquaman at the same time. I also remember other pairs I got at the same time—Superman and Flash one day, Hawkman and Penguin another.)

Another side note: Ohio is also home to the creation of Superman, but I'd already been to Cleveland.

Farewell, great Hall.

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