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Cleveland Public Square
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Historic view of the Cleveland Public Square, c. 1920
Courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection, Cleveland State University Library

Cleveland's Public Square is a remnant of 18th-century New England town planning that has become the center of a large metropolis. The square was laid out on one of the 10-acre original town lots of Cleveland's 1796 town plan, the year Moses Cleaveland and his Connecticut Land Company survey party arrived at the mouth of the Cuyahoga. The Public Square and its monuments represent more than 200 years of Cleveland's civic life.

Presently, the square is divided into four quadrants by Superior Avenue and Ontario Street and contains walks that radiate out from its center. Originally spanning nine and a half acres, the square has been reduced in size over the years so that each quadrant is now a little less than one acre. The northeast quadrant is the only one lacking some type of statue or monument. From 1852 to 1867, citizens closed the two streets that crossed the square seeking to block commercial development. In 1860, the Square became a site for public sculpture with the erection of a monument to the War of 1812 naval hero Admiral Perry, located in the center of the square. That statue was removed in 1892. The statue of Cleveland's reform Mayor, Tom L. Johnson, was unveiled in 1915 and was sculpted by Cleveland School of Art faculty member, Herman N. Matzen. J. C. Hamilton sculpted the 1888 statue of city founder, Moses Cleaveland, which is located on the southwest quadrant.

[photo] Sailors and Soldiers Monument, Cleveland Public Square
Courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, photo by Janet Burke

Completed in 1894, the Sailors and Soldiers Monument in the southeast quadrant dominates the square. The monument stands on a 100-square-foot sandstone base, reached by four flights of stairs, and is topped by a 125-foot tall granite shaft with a 15-foot high statue of Liberty on top. Cleveland architect-sculptor Levi T. Schofield was hired to design the monument, but did so with the assistance of local artisans and New York sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward. Schofield also consulted the military and incorporated their ideas, evident in the bronze sculptures on the four sides of the monument base representing the Cavalry, Infantry, Artillery and Naval branches of the armed services. Large bronze doors mark the entry to the monument, where relief panels illustrate Lincoln 's conference at City Point, women's aid, the Emancipation Proclamation and the War Governors of Ohio. Six thousand names of Cuyahoga County veterans are inscribed on marble slabs inside the memorial room. Typical of late Victorian popular art, the monument is an excellent example of the 19th-century artistic principle of an accumulation of realistic detail used to symbolize abstracts ideals.

The Cleveland Public Square is located in Downtown Cleveland, bisected by Superior Ave. and Ontario St. It is open to the public.

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