DescriptionLaid out by Moses Cleaveland's surveying party in 1796 in the tradition of the New England village green, Public Square marked the center of the Connecticut Land Company's plan for Cleveland. Since 1861, when City Council renamed it Monumental Park for the statue (later moved) of Battle of Lake Erie hero Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, Public Square has served as a site of public memory. A statue of Cleaveland was erected on the square in 1888 and on July 4, 1894 the 125-foot tall Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument was dedicated on the square's southeast quadrant in honor of Civil War veterans. In 1879, Public Square garnered international attention when inventor Charles F. Brush showcased one of the world's first successful demonstrations of electric streetlights there.
In addition to its symbolic value, Public Square has also been a transit hub since its early days, first as the center of streetcar lines and later as a major bus depot. Traffic patterns around Public Square were a source of much controversy in the nineteenth-century. In the 1850s, supporters of a fully enclosed square erected a fence around its entire perimeter, preventing traffic from entering. Eventually the transit demands of a growing city won out and in 1867 roads once again passed through the center of Public Square.