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continued to be its lessee from that time until Mr. Hanna's death — a period of twenty years.
Mr. Hartz states that Mr. Hanna knew all about the theatre, every part of it, and was perfectly competent to have managed it himself. He was frequently consulted about the bookings, and his judgment was rarely at fault. He had a high standard as to the character of the entertainments presented, and wanted his theatre to be known as in every respect first class. There was reserved for his use a box which he usually occupied some time during the week. Mr. Hartz states that his taste in plays and players was good.
He insisted that the Opera House should be well and thriftily managed, but he was kind and considerate to his tenant. At the end of more than one theatrical season Mr. Hartz went to him and owned up that he could not pay the whole rent. "All right," Mr. Hanna would say, "I can wait." "But," he would ask, "have you paid every one else?" As long as he knew that he was being dealt with candidly, he was willing to help and to wait; but he always insisted upon the prompt settlement of every other obligation. In the long run the theatre proved to be a good investment, paying him a return of $8000 on his investment of $40,000.
Yet when he bought the theatre he obviously had not done so merely as an investment. He preferred to keep his money in his business, and he almost never bought real estate except for his own use. Once the theatre was his, he was too good a man of business not to want to make it pay, but the impulse which prompted his successful bid did not flow merely from a quick apprehension of the cheapness of the property. It seems to have been an instinctive by-product of a lively interest in the drama and in theatrical performers. Plays and particularly players, always exercised a strong fascination upon him. He liked their animation, their gayety, their good-fellowship, and the heightening of personality which the practice of their profession bestows upon them.
Throughout the whole of his life Mr. Hanna was intensely and inveterately social. His favorite recreation consisted in companionship with other people; and even during his years of closest business preoccupation he rarely sat down to table without a certain number of guests. On Sundays and holidays he liked to have the house full. Moreover, he wanted to entertain, not merely his friends and business associates, but (as his mother did before him) prominent and interesting people who visited Cleveland; and among the visitors to Cleveland, who were necessarily prominent and usually interesting, were, of course, the constant stream of performers at the local theatres. Mr. Hanna used to entertain many of them at his house, and in this way he became more or less intimately acquainted with most of the leading American actors of his own day. Among the actors whom he knew more or less intimately were Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett, John McCullough, Henry Irving, W. J. Florence, John T. Raymond, W. H. Crane and Joseph Jefferson. He met many of them at his own theatre. When he did not know them, he would go to their dressing-room to be introduced, and then take them to his home as his guests. Some of them he helped. His most intimate friend among the players was Lawrence Barrett, with whom he corresponded, and whose letters to Mr. Hanna are almost affectionate. The business man had helped the actor with a loan of $10,000 at a time when their acquaintance was still comparatively slight, and thereafter their association ripened into a warm friendship. Mr. Hanna became Mr. Barrett's business adviser and helped him both to make and keep money. Mr. Hartz states that the latter's first engagement at the Opera House promised to be a dreary failure. On Monday night the house was empty. So for Tuesday night Mr. Hanna bought all the seats in the theatre except the gallery, and distributed them among the "best" people in Cleveland. It cost him $1400, but thereafter (according to Mr. Hartz) Barrett's reputation was established in Cleveland and to a smaller extent in neighboring cities.
Mr. Hanna's excursion into the ownership of a theatre was, consequently, the result of human rather than business motives. He did not do it to make money, although once involved he managed to make the investment profitable. But his theatre brought him into closer touch with a group of people whom he found interesting and diverting, and who must have added a grateful alteration to the somewhat monotonous social life of a Middle Western city.
Mark Hanna's other and final miscellaneous business interest was a street railway company. His connection therewith began, when in 1875, after the death of his father-in-law, Mr. Daniel P. Rhodes, he took the latter's place as director of the Rocky River Railroad. This little steam road ran for five or six miles from the city westward to a point on the Lake, which was a favorite place of recreation for the young people of Cleveland. Its equipment consisted of three locomotives and twelve cars; and it successfully lost during the winter all the money it made during the summer. Its right of way was sold finally to the Nickel Plate Railroad; and as a local transit agency it was in a sense succeeded by the West Side Street Railway Company. That company had been incorporated in January, 1863, for the purpose of supplying the citizens of the West Side with a horse-car service, and in it Mr. Daniel P. Rhodes was largely interested. At his death this interest was inherited by his daughter and his sons. Its initial capital stock of $50,000 had increased by 1879 to only $80,000, which indicates that during these sixteen years its growth had not been rapid. Mrs. Hanna's interest in the road after her father's death consisted of five hundred shares. In 1879 Mark Hanna was elected a director, having qualified by the purchase of one hundred shares.
Three years later, in 1882, he purchased five hundred more shares, and in this way he and the heirs of Mr. Rhodes obtained control of the property. Up to that time Elias Sims had been president of the corporation. The management had been anything but enterprising or efficient. Its service was cheap and poor. Its passengers had the pleasure of riding in old cars which were no longer good enough to be used in New York, and these cars were drawn by horses which had been discarded as useless for any but a semi-public service. Mark Hanna did not like such management. He named a price at which he would sell his own interest or purchase the interest of Mr. Sims. That the price was liberal is indicated by the fact that in twenty-four hours Mr. Hanna had entered into control.
The West Side Street Railway Company owned about fifteen miles of track, almost all of it on the west side of the Cuyahoga River. It ran cars on Detroit, Pearl, Lorain and Bridge streets, and thence over the new viaduct to the Public Square. Its most important line was only two miles and a half in length. In order to become a profitable road, it needed to improve its service and extend the area of its business so that it could be more economically operated. As soon as he assumed control Mr. Hanna instructed the superintendent, Mr. Geo. G. Mulhem, to buy new cars and horses, and to put the road in thoroughly good condition. "You do the work," he said, "and I'll supply the money." Little by little the lines were extended wherever possible, and every effort was made to keep the service abreast of the growth of the city.
Somewhat later a consolidation was effected with the Woodland Avenue line on the east side of the river, and then with the road on Kinsman Street. This consolidation largely increased the size of the company and the area of its operations. Its name was changed to the Woodland Avenue and West Side Street Railway Company, its capital became $2,000,000, and it obtained a long continuous route running from one end of the city to the other. Mr. Hanna was president of the new company. The Woodland Avenue .line, when he assumed control, was also run down and was in need of complete rehabilitation. After a few years he converted it from a losing into a paying property.
It was about this time (that is, in the late years of the eighties) that street railroads in a city of the size of Cleveland began to be really profitable. Their traffic increased faster than the growth of population, because as the city spread, the amount of travelling became proportionately larger. Coincident with the necessary increase in travelling came the introduction of the electric trolley, which at once enormously improved the service, diminished the percentage of operating cost and made the consolidation of connecting lines necessary in the interest both of the best service and the lowest operating cost. About 1889 Mr. Hanna began the electrification of his street railways. A little later a further consolidation was effected with the Cleveland City Cable Company, which owned tracks on Payne Avenue, Superior and St. Clair streets. This new company was known as the Cleveland City Railway Company, its capital was $8,000,000, afterwards increased to $9,000,000, and the whole system was, of course, operated by electric trolleys. Mr. Hanna continued as president, and did not retire until his company, popularly known as the "Little Consolidated," was merged with the Cleveland Electric Railway Company—the "Big Consolidated."
Mark Hanna never owned a majority of the stock in any of the companies which succeeded to the old West Side Street Railway Company. His own interest and that of his immediate family amounted to about a million dollars in the stock of the "Little Consolidated." Nevertheless his control was complete. He did not interfere much in the details of operation, but he travelled on the cars a good deal and was constantly suggesting improvements in the service. On the whole, however, the operating superintendent was held responsible for the running of the road, while Mr. Hanna financed it, decided what improvements were necessary, and when and how they should be made. The directors almost always followed his recommendations; and under his energetic but thrifty management the Cleveland City Railway came to have a high reputation for the efficiency of its service.
As in the case of his other interests Mr. Hanna did not buy a street railway, because he had carefully calculated the probability of large future profits in that particular business. Indeed, in 1882 it required some imagination to anticipate that such a decrepit enterprise could ever be made remunerative. The opportunity for large profits in street railways resulted, it must be remembered, from the introduction of electrical power. He became a street railroad president as the accidental result of his wife's inherited interest in a property of that kind. Mr. Hanna saw that this interest would continue to be worth little under its existing management. Being a man accustomed to take decisive action, he made up his mind that the interest must either be sold or the business controlled. When the old management preferred to sell out, Mr. Hanna started in to build up the property.
He had another interest in the street railway besides the family interest. He lived at that time on Franklin Avenue on the West Side. One of the tracks of the company passed his door. He used the cars to take him to and from his office. His pride as a business man in being associated only with wellmanaged and successful enterprises was reenforced by local