Distance: 4 miles Easy
Walking time: 3 hours
Description: This walk is on sidewalks and requires crossing many busy streets. It is best taken on weekdays when public buildings are open.
Directions: From I-90 eastbound take Exit 171B (Ontario Ave.); north on Ontario to Public Square.
From I-90 westbound take Exit 173C (Superior Ave.); west on Superior to Public Square.
Tower City Parking located adjacent to and beneath Tower City Center. Access to parking area is off Huron Rd. near Ontario Ave. RTA trains stop at Tower City Center’s lower level.
Parking &restrooms: At Tower City Center.
In the last 15 years, the city of Cleveland has made a remarkable recovery from urban decline and decay with major building projects. Encompassing both new construction and renovations, these projects include the Key Tower skyscraper, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Great Lakes Science Center, Jacobs Field, Gund Arena, the Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Warehouse District, and Playhouse Square. All of these updates and additions to downtown Cleveland represent major attractions that bring people into the city. Many of the older buildings still remain as important architectural landmarks.
This walk will introduce many of Cleveland’s distinctive historical buildings and some of the major public art on display both outside and inside public buildings. Hike 2, Downtown Cleveland: More Public Art, takes the walker to some of the outdoor (and indoor) works of art placed in strategic locations around Cleveland. Hike 3, Downtown Cleveland: Geology, is a walk focusing on some of the building stones and fossils to be found in the heart of the city. Often building tours are available by individual or group arrangement and are so noted in the descriptions.
1 Start the tour by viewing the two levels of shops in Tower City Center. This building complex was created from a former railroad station, completed in 1930 when Terminal Tower was built. Terminal Tower was then the second-tallest building in the world and has been Cleveland’s landmark ever since. A 1990 renovation and expansion added new concourse space, many shops and offices, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The fountains in the Skylight Concourse and between the escalators in Tower Court are of special interest.
Note the elaborate portico at the building’s exit to Public Square, with rosettes on the vaulted ceiling, vast windows, and allegorical murals—all refurbished. The 1930 murals by Jules Guerin surround the top of the portico. They depict transportation, industry, commerce, and the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Note the sloping roofs that remain over the ramps that formerly led down to the trains.
Leave Tower City Center at the Public Square exit.
2 Public Square was laid out in 1796 when Moses Cleaveland arrived to survey the Western Reserve of Connecticut. Standing in the southwest quadrant of the square is an 1888 James G. C. Hamilton statue of Cleaveland showing him with a compass and surveyor’s staff. (It has been said that the “a” was left out of Cleaveland’s name when it would not fit into a newspaper masthead!)
In the northwest quadrant is a statue of Tom L. Johnson, a beloved and influential mayor of Cleveland (1901–09), who is remembered as an opponent of vested interests. Sculptor Herman Matzen, a longtime instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Art who carved many of Lake View Cemetery’s beautiful monuments (see hike 9), shows Johnson seated with a copy of Henry George’s Progress and Poverty, a tract that inspired the mayor to work for social change. (Johnson dedicated this quadrant to freedom of speech, encouraging Clevelanders to speak their minds from this location anytime.) Plaques on either side of the stature contain a poem written in Johnson’s memory.
Most prominent in the southeast quadrant is the 1894 Soldiers and Sailors Monument by artist and architect Levi Tucker Scofield. This lofty memorial, surrounded by four massive bronze statues representing different branches of the armed forces (infantry, artillery, cavalry, and navy), is dedicated to the 10,000 Cleveland-area servicemen who served in the Civil War. The interior of this 125-foot-high structure is open to the public from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily except Sundays. The interior features four cast-bronze panels with life-size figures representing sigificant aspects of the Civil War. A booklet describing the monument’s prominent exterior and interior aspects is available from an attendant (see hike 3, note #2).
3 From Public Square walk north to Old Stone Church, organized in 1820 as First Presbyterian Church. The original 1834 church building was replaced in 1855 only to be destroyed by fire 19 months later. Another disastrous fire in 1884 severely damaged that building, leading to its replacement by the present structure. Chemical cleaning of the church’s exterior has brought out details in the original, locally quarried Berea Sandstone (see hike 48). The entrance to the church is at Old Stone Center, around the corner at 1380 Ontario (216-241-6145). A self-guided tour can be arranged by visiting the center’s office to see the large Tiffany and LaFarge stained-glass windows and the oak interior designed by architect Charles Schweinfurth. A small booklet available at the entrance to the nave describes these gorgeous windows in detail. The building is open Mon–Fri, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please stop by the reception desk for permission to enter the nave (see hike 3, note #3).
4 Opposite Old Stone Church is the old (1890), reddish sandstone Society for Savings building (now KeyBank), which has been incorporated into the (1992) Key Tower. This complex combines the old bank, the Marriott Hotel, and a 57-story office tower—Cleveland’s (and Ohio’s) tallest building at 888 feet.
The old building, Cleveland’s first skyscraper, was designed by John Wellborn Root. The bank is a heavy, fortress-like structure with granite pillars and arched windows. An ornate lamp at one corner was designed by the Winslow Brothers Co. of Chicago; its wrought-iron post with curving iron vines supports an acorn-like glass basket containing an incandescent light. In 1879 Cleveland became the first U.S. city to light its streets electrically using local inventor Charles Brush’s flicker-free arc lamps. (Brush Electric Co. later became part of General Electric.)
Inside the old building are a stained-glass ceiling, marble columns, and murals depicting the goose that laid the golden egg by English painter Walter Crane. Here also are murals by Louis P. Szanto and Andrew B. Karoly. This artwork is described in detail in small, glass-enclosed cases at the center of the room (see hike 3, note #4). At the Rockwell St. entrance of the lobby is a large abstract painting called Promenade du Sceptique by Frank Stella (1974).
5 Turn south to Superior Ave. The red, polished-granite BP Building, built in 1985, faces west at 200 Public Square. Its eight-story atrium with its series of water fountains of increasing complexity, indoor waterfall, plantings, and granite stairway was planned to conform to the sloping grade of the site and offers fine views of Public Square through its high glass windows. Primal Energy, a 1985 abstract wire and metal work by artist Richard Lippold, is suspended in the Superior Avenue lobby. In the Euclid Ave. lobby is Étoile VIII (1983), a brushed stainless-steel suspension by artist George Rickey with subtle movements resembling a living organism.
Across Public Square is the eye-catching facade of the former May Company building with its prominent terra-cotta clock and ornamental detail.
6 Also on Public Square at Superior Ave. is the Old Federal Building (1910), identified across the top facade as “United States Post Office, Custom House, and Court House.” This was Cleveland’s first post office, and from here home delivery of mail originated in 1863—the first ever in America. No longer a post office, and renamed Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Court House, it now houses most of Cleveland’s federal courts. The exterior figures, Jurisprudence on the left and Commerce on the right, were created in 1910 by sculptor Daniel Chester French, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. One side of the Jurisprudence figure portrays a mother holding her baby (symbolizing protection); the other side a felon in chains (symbolizing justice). Commerce shows a figure with one arm on a globe and an ore ship in the other. To her right is Electricity and to her left, Steam. Each corner eagle high up on the roof is carved from a single block of granite and has a 20-foot wingspan.
In 1903, Chicago architect Daniel Burnham planned an elaborate mall and civic center for Cleveland. Massive stone buildings, similar in design with impressive interiors and ornate details, were to surround a central mall. Of all the buildings in the so-called “Group Plan,” the Old Federal Building was the first to be completed. Only six more were finished: the Cuyahoga County Courthouse (1912), Cleveland City Hall (1916), Public Auditorium (1922) and Music Hall and North Lobby (1927), the Cleveland Public Library (1925), and the Cleveland Board of Education (1930). (Public Auditorium and the Music Hall are now part of the Cleveland Convention Center.) The ornate lamps and statues on the exterior of the Old Federal Building are characteristic of the Group Plan buildings. The Mall consists of Mall A, with Marshall Frederick’s Fountain of Eternal Life (often referred to as “War Memorial Fountain”), and Malls B and C extending from Rockwell north to Lakeside, between East and West Mall drives.
7 Continue east on Superior to the Arcade, the only enclosed structure of its kind in the United States when it opened in 1890. Designed by architects John Eisenmann and George H. Smith, it joins Euclid Ave. on the south with Superior Ave. on the north. Its 400-foot-long, 100-foot-high glass-roofed, five-story atrium was built by Detroit bridge builders. This forerunner of the suburban shopping mall is sandwiched between two solid nine-story office buildings. The grand marble stairways and elegant interior details are immediately impressive. The central bridge was added in 1900 and the staircase at the Superior end in 1930. Note the mosaic floor and, overhead, the gargoyles. The Arcade has been beautifully renovated and restored to become a Hyatt Hotel.
Walk through the Arcade to the Euclid Ave. exit and walk east on the south side of Euclid.
8 Two smaller arcades were built in Cleveland to protect shoppers from the city’s cold, windy winter weather. The Euclid Arcade, at 510 Euclid Ave., was built in 1911. It is a 440-foot-long, one-story terra-cotta passageway to Prospect Ave., formerly connected to the demolished Colonial Hotel. It now contains small galleries and shops.
9 At 530 Euclid Ave. is the slightly smaller Colonial Arcade (1898), also 440 feet long but with a second-story balcony and a Classical-style glass roof. This arcade also led to the old Colonial Hotel. It has been refurbished to become Colonial Marketplace, with a variety of restaurants and shops.
10 Continue east on Euclid Ave. to E. 9th St., where there are several prominent banking institutions. At the northwest corner is National City Center, constructed in 1980 with an open pedestrian plaza and a fascinating kinetic sculpture called Triple L Excentric Gyratory (Gyratory III), designed by George Rickey. The blades of its three arms move slowly and randomly without regard to the velocity of the high winds that whip across this intersection.
11 The ornate white-granite building on the southeast corner of E. 9th and Euclid (presently closed) is identified on its upper facade as Cleveland Trust Co. This 1908 building’s exterior is highly decorative, with a beautiful portico of columns. Pediment sculptures by Karl Bitter represent Banking flanked by Land and Water, the “mainsprings of wealth.” When and if this structure reopens, it is worth viewing the interior, with its magnificent 85-foot-high rotunda with Tiffany-style dome of blue, green, and yellow stained glass. There are 13 columned bays with murals by Francis D. Millet depicting life in the Midwest, as well as bronze railings, marble floors and walls, and original banking desks, grilles, and doorways.
12 On the northeast corner of E. 9th and Euclid is Huntington Bank, with one of the largest and most impressive bank lobbies in the United States. Built in 1924 to resemble a Roman basilica, this 30-acre room is L-shaped with entrances on Euclid, E. 9th, and Chester. The three-story-high ceiling with skylights, marble columns, standing brass light fixtures, and allegorical murals by Jules Guerin are all exceptional. The murals depict patriotism, justice, industry, and architecture, with background scenes of Cleveland and the Great Lakes.
13 Walk north on E. 9th St. to Superior Ave. On the northeast corner is the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Originally built in 1852, this French Gothic–style center was substantially rebuilt and refurbished, with a new tower added in 1948. The beautiful 1,500-seat cathedral contains decorative columns, stained-glass windows, stucco walls, a handcut wooden altar, statues from France, and a Lady Chapel with an impressive marble altar and small stained-glass windows.
14 Go west one block on Superior. Bank One Center, completed in 1991, is on the left. The massive Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is on the right. The Henry Hering sculpture at its Superior Ave. entrance is Energy in Repose, a bronze statue of a muscular laborer (modeled after Charles Atlas) who symbolizes the vast resources of the federal banking system resting in vaults until needed by the country’s financial network.
Flanking the entrance on E. 6th St. are the figures of Security on the right and Integrity on the left. The armored sculpture on the right is crowned with oak leaves and clasps a sword and lockbox. The figure on the left is crowned with olive leaves and holds sealed documents and a rod symbolizing the oath of responsibility.
This grand building of pink granite and marble was designed in 1923 to resemble an Italian palace, with marble curbstones to mark its boundary. The interior has beautiful marble floors, walls, and pillars, and decorative iron screens representing each Federal Reserve district. This bank has one of the world’s largest vault doors, which can be seen only on a group tour. For information call 216-579-2000 or visit www.FederalReserveEducation.org.
15 Cross E. 6th St. to the block-long Cleveland Public Library. Third largest in the country, after the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library, the Cleveland Public Library was the first to create the system of placing books on open shelves for public browsing. Adjacent to it is the Louis Stokes Wing, opened in 1997. The buildings are separated by the Eastman Reading Garden designed by Maya Lin, the architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Take a look inside to view the marvelous marble staircases, painted lobby ceiling, light fixtures, and globe at the entrance. Three-story Brett Hall, a huge reading room, has four unusual murals within its portals: straight ahead (north) is The City in 1833; to the right is Sommer’s Sun; on the rear (south) wall is Public Square; and to the west is Night Sky: Cleveland 1978. A free pamphlet at the reference desk describes these murals in more detail. A tour of the library can be scheduled by calling 216-623-2955 (see hike 3, note #5).
16 From the library walk north on E. 6th St. to the Board of Education Building, the last Group Plan building to be built (1930). Walk west on Rockwell to Memorial Plaza and the main facade of the Board of Education Building. A 1932 statue of Abraham Lincoln by Cleveland’s Max Kalish stands on the west side of the plaza (Mall A). This naturalistic figure shows President Lincoln delivering his Gettysburg Address, which is engraved on a plaque below. Enter the Board of Education Building at the Mall A entrance to view the beautiful marble lobby.
The striking Fountain of Eternal Life (also known as “War Memorial Fountain”) was designed in Art Deco style in 1964 by a former Clevelander, Marshall M. Fredericks. Restored in the 1980s, this image memorializes area service personnel who died in World War II and the Korean War. The 35-foot bronze statue of a young man emerging from flames and reaching toward the heavens rises from a hollow, filigreed sphere depicting the ancient superstitions and fears that often underlie war. Four massive granite carvings surround the statue and represent the world’s great civilizations.
17 The long Cleveland Convention Center complex that lies along E. 6th St. between St. Clair and Lakeside Aves. consists of Public Auditorium (1922) and the Music Hall and North Lobby (1927). An addition with much-enlarged display space and a new mall entrance was added in 1964. The complex was completely renovated in 1988, but it is slated to be replaced by a new convention center in the future.
18 Walk north on E. 6th St. to Lakeside Ave. At the green just past E. 6th St. is a bronze statue of a young George Washington looking toward the west, created by William McVey in 1973.
Across the street in tiny Willard Park is the massive freestanding artwork called Free Stamp. Designed in 1985 by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen for the Sohio (now BP) Building on Public Square, it was to have been a “contemporary paraphrase” of the nearby Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square. Free Stamp was to have been placed face down in front of the BP America building, but because of disagreements, BP gave it to the city, which had it redesigned and turned on its side for this location. It was finally installed in 1991 after much controversy.
Beyond Free Stamp (across E. 9th St.) is North Point, an office building at 1001 Lakeside. At the entrance stands Symphonic Suite, an interesting 1990 bronze grouping by Mike Cunningham consisting of six stylized musicians with painted and patined surfaces.
19 Directly west of Free Stamp, on Lakeside Ave. and E. 6th St., is the grand Cleveland City Hall, designed by J. Milton Dyer. This majestic building was recognized in 1983 by the American Institute of Architects as one of the outstanding city halls in the nation. From its stately portico to its magnificent rotunda, City Hall is an impressive treasure to view. The stunning interior features a two-story-high barrel-vaulted ceiling, skylights, marble floors, walls, and columns, murals, and bronze lamps and gates. Displayed here is Archibald Willard’s masterpiece painting The Spirit of ’76, restored in 1987, located on the right rear wall; on the left is Cleveland’s Hall of Fame. Much of the interior of City Hall was renovated in the 1970s. The beautiful mayoral suite contains fine-grained oak walls and five painted tapestries showing scenes of early Cleveland. The handsome city council chambers, among the largest and most elegant in the country, boast a gold-leaf ceiling, chandeliers, hand-carved English oak paneling, and a large Ivor Johns mural—Where Men and Minerals Meet (1928)—symbolizing Cleveland’s importance as a shipping, mining, and industrial center. Tours of City Hall may be arranged by calling 216-664-2220.
North of City Hall on Erieside Ave. is the new I. M. Pei–designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and, adjacent to it, another new institution, the Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC). Across Erieside Ave. from the GLSC is the new Cleveland Browns Stadium. Farther up E. 9th St. (at its northern terminus, past the Rock Hall) is the Steamship William G. Mather—a floating maritime museum—and Voinovich Park. All of these sites are worth visiting because of their close proximity.
20 Proceed west on Lakeside Ave. to the Cuyahoga County Courthouse (1908), another one of the Group Plan buildings. This one has a gorgeous columned portico with statues of important legal figures along the cornice, and statues of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in front. The 10 marble cornice statues were made by Karl Bitter and other sculptors in 1911 to represent important episodes in the evolution of the British and American legal systems.
The six figures above the main entrance on Lakeside Ave. from left (west) to right (east) depict men who influenced the development of law in England: Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton (1150– 1228), who won the signing of the Magna Carta; Simon de Montfort (1200–1265), who established the House of Commons; King Edward I (1239–1307), who implemented judicial reform; John Hamp den (1594–1643), who authored the Petition of Rights; Lord Chancellor John Somers (1651–1716), the force behind the passage of the Declaration of Rights; and William Murray, Earl of Mansfield (1705–1793), who contributed to the development of commercial law.
The four statues above the north entrance represent historical figures who played a significant role in our legal heritage: Moses (moral law); Roman emperor Justinian (civil law); Alfred the Great (common law); and Pope Gregory IX (canon law). The bronze figures on each side of the north entrance are of U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall (1755–1835) and Ohio Chief Justice Rufus P. Ranney (1813–1891).
The grand 1911 sculptures of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton that flank the main entrance steps are also by Karl Bitter. Although in life these two men had a rancorous relationship, here they are seated side by side. However, there is a great contrast in their portrayal. Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and our first secretary of state, embraced individual rights; Hamilton, our first secretary of the treasury and prime mover in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, personified power and prestige. Bitter shows Hamilton sitting up straight and looking imperious; he is holding a hat, gloves, and a walking stick and wearing elegant slippers fastened with ribbons. Jefferson, in contrast, seems deep in thought and wears heavy buckled shoes and rumpled clothes; some crumpled papers hang loosely from his right hand while his left arm rests casually on the back of the chair.
The elegant marble hall inside the courthouse has a vaulted ceiling and large murals on the second floor at either end—The Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787 by Violet Oakley (1915) at the north end, and King John Signing the Magna Carta at Runnymede, 1215 by Frank Brangwyn (1913) at the south end. On the east side of the hall is a marvelous curving marble stairway with a Tiffany stained-glass window in the center entitled “Justice.” Designed by Frederick Wilson and Charles Schweinfurth in 1913, it memorializes famous legal figures.
21 From the courthouse walk south on Ontario, returning to Public Square and Tower City Center. Along the way note the ornate Standard Building at 1370 Ontario with its distinctive terra-cotta starburst design on the exterior panels.
22 An optional extension of this walk will take you to a historically and culturally interesting section of Cleveland a few blocks east of downtown. Playhouse Square on Euclid Ave., between E. 14th St. and E. 17th St., is Cleveland’s magnificently restored theater district. The Allen, Ohio, State, and Palace theaters were once homes to vaudeville, movies, and legitimate theater; today they house the Cleveland Opera, Great Lakes Theater Festival, and many other performing arts groups. Resplendent with marble staircases, ornate ceilings, and crystal chandeliers, the State’s 320-foot lobby is one of the world’s longest. Here are four 50-foot murals painted by James Daugherty in 1921–22.
For more information about guided tours of Playhouse Square Center call 216-771-4444. n
This walk was rewalked and revised by the author with the assistance of Ashley E. Cameron.^ top
Excerpted from the book Cleveland On Foot 4th Edition, copyright © Patience Cameron Hoskins. All rights reserved.
This excerpt may not be used in any form for commercial purposes without the written permission of Gray & Company, Publishers.
by Patience Cameron Hoskins
Describes 50 hikes and walks in and around Greater Cleveland. Hikes for all levels of hiking ability explore urban, suburban, rural, and woodland areas. They range from an easy one-hour walk to a challenging full-day hike and take . . . [ Read More ]
Patience Cameron Hoskins has been a hike leader and an active member of the Buckeye Trail Association and the Cleveland Hiking Club for many years. . . . [ Read More ]