Buckeye Beat: Cleveland public square revamped

RICK: Thanks, Mary. So, you heard Mary describe Public Square, the 10-acres that Moses Cleaveland plotted out over two centuries ago when he came to Cleveland. The square in the heart of Cleveland has seen a lot of changes over the years – and, last summer, it got a major upgrade with a splash pool, a large green lawn, and a café. Up next, David C. Barnett takes us on a tour of the revamped public park in our first installment of the year of Buckeye Beat.



David: for many decades downtown cleveland was a place that workers and shoppers came to during the day and left at night. and public square was largely a place where you caught that bus to and from your suburban home, but in more recent years the city has undergone a transformation.

Nora: Well originally, if you ask historians, they’ll tell you it was a place for cows and hogs. In many ways it had a similar geography. It was a square. It was in the center of the city, both in hearts and minds, and it developed over time. There was always transportation here; There was always transit. It developed over time, but this was also a place people gathered historically. The function remains and in fact with the new design the function will be helped along even more.

David: This is a historic spot, it dates back almost to the beginning of the city and it has certain historic elements — Soldiers and Sailors monument, Tom Johnson, Moses Cleaveland — how do you blend all that in?

Nora: Right. They’re really vignettes in a way. Soldiers and Sailors monument, they’ve been tenants on the square historically. With do deference to everything they do we made sure that they were part of the conversation and remain a part of the conversation. We needed to understand the place historically in order to make it relevant today. So you’ll see as were sitting here today, Tom Johnson and Moses Cleaveland now mark the new entrances to the park, which didn’t exist before. We wanted to welcome people to public square, but acknowledge that this place is different, so it’s a balance. We need to make sure that we acknowledge yesterday, with an eye towards tomorrow.

David: Let’s take a look around and take a look at some of your favorite places.

Nora: I’d love to. You can see this beautiful vista welcoming you. you have the wall here on overlook hill, carefully engineered, the materials are so precise. You have perennial beds and the cobble that was laid by hand.

David: I kind of like that kind of sworay effect that is going on here.

Nora: It’s people scale. It’s personal and what you have here on Mandel Concert Hill is a very special place. It’s a respit in the middle of the city. You can sit there and watch a concert, you can eat your lunch. What it really does is take this large space and put it down to an individual level. Another thing I would note is the stairs. As you sit there on the stairs so carefully engineered and installed, it’s really a note to the expertise of the people involved on site in the heat and the cold outside since March 9, 2015. Their fingerprints are all over this space and they have created these beautiful spaces that are designed but also functional. To me that's what makes this a special place, but it's repeated throughout the square.


RICK: Thanks, David. As a historic gathering place, Public Square has already hosted concerts, festivals, and a whole bunch of protests – in fact, protesters flocked to Public Square by the hundreds this summer during the Republican National Convention. In a new segment we’re calling Politics on Point, Nick Castele gives us a recap of the R-N-C in C-L-E – and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Instructional Links

Website Article: Cleveland Historical, Public Square, Two Centuries of Transformation 


Website Article: Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Public Square 


Website Article: Connecticut History, New Connecticut on Lake Erie, Connecticut’s Western Reserve


Website and Maps: History of the Western Reserve


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