Public Square, Cleveland

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Cleveland Public Square
Public Square buildings.jpg
The Old Stone Church, Society for Savings Building, and Key Tower border Public Square, representing three eras of Cleveland history.
Public Square, Cleveland is located in Ohio
Public Square, Cleveland
Location Four quadrants intersected by Superior Ave. and Ontario Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44106
Coordinates 41°29′59″N 81°41′38″W / 41.49972°N 81.69389°W / 41.49972; -81.69389Coordinates: 41°29′59″N 81°41′38″W / 41.49972°N 81.69389°W / 41.49972; -81.69389
Built 1857 -1861
Governing body Cleveland Public Parks District
NRHP Reference # 75001361[1]
Added to NRHP December 18, 1975
Public Square in 1912, facing east. The Old Stone Church is the third building on the left. The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument is on the right, in front of the Williamson Building, which was later demolished for 200 Public Square.
The north side of Public Square
Postcard of Public Square in the 1910s

Public Square is the four-block central plaza of downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Based on an 18th-century New England model, it was part of the original 1796 town plat overseen by Moses Cleaveland, and remains today as an integral part of the city's center. The 10-acre (4.0 ha) square is centered on the intersection of Superior Avenue and Ontario Street.[2] Cleveland's three tallest buildings, Key Tower, 200 Public Square and the Terminal Tower, face the square. Other Public Square landmarks include the 1855 Old Stone Church and the former Higbee's department store made famous in the 1983 film A Christmas Story. It reopened as the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland on May 14, 2012.

A 125-foot monument to Civil War soldiers and sailors occupies the southeast quadrant of the square. City founder Moses Cleaveland and reformist mayor Tom L. Johnson each have statues on the square.


Public Square was part of the Connecticut Land Company's original plan for the city, which were overseen by Moses Cleaveland in the 1790s. The square is signature of the layout for early New England towns, which Cleveland was modeled after. While it initially served as a common pasture for settlers' animals, less than a century later Public Square was the height of modernity, when in 1879 it became the first street in the world to be lit with electric street lights, arc lamps designed by Cleveland native Charles F. Brush.[2] The square was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 18, 1975.

A parking lot now faces the northwest quadrant of the square. A 12-story building, which was built on the spot in 1913, was demolished in 1990 to make way for the new Ameritrust Center, an 1,197-foot (365 m) skyscraper designed by New York's Kohn Pedersen Fox.[3] Before construction began, Ameritrust was acquired by Society Bank, which was also planning to construct and subsequently relocate to a new building on Public Square — Key Tower (formerly known as Society Center). Because Society did not need two skyscrapers, plans for the Ameritrust building across the square were scrapped.

Other buildings that face the square include 55 Public Square (1958), 75 Public Square (1915), the Society for Savings Building (1890), Metzenbaum Courthouse (1910), the former May Company department store (1914), the Park Building (1903), and the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel (1918). The demolished Cuyahoga Building (1893) and Williamson Building (1900) formerly stood on the site of 200 Public Square. U.S. routes 6, 20, 42, 322, and 422 and five Ohio state highways (3, 8, 14, 43, and 87) begin / pass through Public Square. US 6 passes through the square on Superior, and US 20 enters from the west on Superior and leaves via Euclid Avenue.

Public Square is often the site of political rallies and civic functions, including a free annual Independence Day concert by the Cleveland Orchestra. At the Balloonfest '86, close to 1.5 million balloons rose up from Public Square, engulfing the Terminal Tower and setting a world record.[4]

2010s redesign[edit]

In collaboration with landscape architect James Corner, the city in 2009 began to explore concepts for a redesign of the square.[5][6] In October 2011, Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson proposed his plan to redevelop the square, which included closing Superior Avenue and Ontario Street to create a large green space in the center.[7] On October 23, 2014, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission approved a plan which will close Ontario Street but keep Superior Avenue open to bus traffic, and will keep the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument prominent.[8][9] The project is to run from March 9, 2015, to a date prior to the 2016 Republican National Convention which begins July 18.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register of Historical Places – Ohio(OH), Cuyahoga County". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  2. ^ a b "Public Square". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University. July 30, 1999. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  3. ^ Ameritrust Center. Accessed 2006-12-15.
  4. ^ Kroll, John (August 15, 2011). "Balloonfest 1986, the spectacle that became a debacle: Cleveland Remembers". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved March 15, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Redesigning Public Square". Downtown Cleveland Alliance. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  6. ^ Litt, Steven (2009-12-20). "Re-imagining Cleveland's Public Square". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  7. ^ Litt, Steven (2011-10-29). "Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson envisions unified Public Square as symbol of greener city". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2011-11-23. 
  8. ^ Jarboe McFee, Michelle (2014-10-23). "Public Square overhaul gets OK from Cleveland Landmarks Commission, after truce over Soldiers and Sailors Monument". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2014-10-24. 
  9. ^ "Cleveland Public Square". James Corner Field Operations. Retrieved 2014-10-24. 
  10. ^ Litt, Steven (2015-03-02). "It's official: Public Square renovation to launch Monday, March 9". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2015-03-03. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Public Square, Cleveland at Wikimedia Commons