Public Square Now Open to the Public
Clevelanders young and old gathered to celebrate the re-opening and rededication of downtown’s Public Square on Thursday. A group of city leaders from government, finance, and planning addressed a crowd in between performances from the Shaw High School marching band.
Designed by the landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, the $50 million reconstruction project of took about six years from preliminary planning to completion. The city hopes to use the park for year-round programing such as concerts and as an ice-skating rink in the winter.
Thursday’s speakers praised the Square as the revitalized heart of the city. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said that is especially true for millennials, who have flocked downtown living in recent years.
“I’ve had many conversations with our young people,” said Budish. “They’re moving to Cleveland because they want a downtown community. They want a downtown neighborhood, and this is a critical part of it: a new public square, a gathering place for people with green space and to share with other people.”
Tony Coyne, Chairman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, stressed that this new design benefitted all who visit Cleveland or call it home.
“This public square is a public square in the truest sense of the word public,” said Coyne. “The voices of Clevelanders shaped this space, and what you see around us today is a result of Clevelanders’ passion—both your practical and visionary ideas that have come to life in a very dramatic fashion. This is your public square.”
After the congratulatory speeches, activity in the Square turned to what its intended for: gathering, socializing, and relaxation. People danced to live music, laid on the grass, and waded through the water.
People visiting the park for the first time were impressed by its new open feel. The old Public Square had several parks kept apart by busy intersections. Now, only buses and bikes can pass through, and the new area focuses on pedestrians and places to relax.
As she cooled off in the new shallow reflection pool, Kathleen Sonhalter raved about the renovation.
“I’m quite delighted by the opportunity for us to hang out and interact with other Clevelanders,” she said. “I will probably be coming down here, meeting up with friends for bike rides. We’ll probably use this as a gathering place, and just coming down to take a stroll through and cool off. I love this water feature.”
Erika Hayes left her walker on dry land to wade into the water, and tried to get others to join her.
“I come everyday down here,” she said. “I love this park. I think it’s the greatest thing they ever did.”