Adventures written by the VAMONDE Team
From its modest beginning as a shared pasture land for settlers’ livestock, the Public Square in downtown Cleveland is now considered one of the top 15 “Great Places,” according to the American Planning Association. Cynthia Bowen, President of the APA, described how Cleveland’s Public Square, “is a national example of how public spaces create a sense of place that creates access and opportunity for all.” The Public Square continues to provide a space for the community to gather and share resources, ideas, and conversation.
Sense of place is what connects people to form a bond of community. It enhances community-based psychosocial support networks. Throughout history, the Public Square has regularly served as a space for Cleveland locals to connect to their city. It was the first city square in the world to be lit with electric lights in 1879. Key Tower, 200 Public Square, and the Terminal Tower, which are the three tallest buildings in the city, all face the square. Additionally, the square was added to the National Registry of Historical Places in 1975.
In 2010, as Cleveland began its slow recovery from the Great Recession, the city explored redesign concepts. The favored proposal outlined a massive overhaul, which would require significant and extended road closures to build a central green space. The final plan, approved through the Cleveland Landmarks Commission, closed only one street and maintained the prominent Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Construction began in March 2015, and the new Public Square was officially opened in June 2016.
The Public Square is now host to many types of free gatherings, including yoga, live music, food truck events, and cyclist meetups. It is easily accessible by public transit from all areas of the city. Next time you pass through Cleveland, come out to the Public Square to create your own sense of place!
Cover image: "Ohio" by US Department of State is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.