Public Square


Laid 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.

Audio Show

Moses Cleaveland's Public Square

Architect Robert Gaede explains the New England origins of the Public Square design

Prince Phillip Inspires A Renovation

Norman Krumholz of Cleveland State University talks about the renovation of Public Square

The Future Of Public Square

Architect Jerry Payto implores us to come up with a fresh and unique design for Public Square

Photos Show

Public Square, Ca. 1910s

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, the May Company Building, and a Humphrey Popcorn stand can be seen in this view of the southeast quadrant of Public Square, taken during the 1910s.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Waiting For a Streetcar, Ca. 1910s

A crowd at Public Square waits for the next streetcar to arrive, circa 1910s

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Inter-Urban Railcar, 1920

Passengers board an inter-urban railcar near the southeast quadrant of Public Square in 1920.

Image courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society

Southwest Quadrant, ca. 1911

This view from the Square's southwest quadrant shows the site of the Terminal Tower nearly 15 years before its construction commenced.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Looking Down Euclid, Ca. 1900s

The view from Public Square looking east down Euclid Avenue, circa 1900s

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Grays on Public Square, 1839

The Cleveland Grays were a private militia organized to serve and protect the young city of Cleveland. Such groups were founded in cities across the nation during the 19th century, serving as de facto police forces and regional military units, as well as strikebreakers for their wealthy benefactors.

Image courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society

Public Square, 1922

Pictured at center are the Williamson and Cuyahoga Buildings, which would later be demolished to make way for the BP America Building.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Cite this Page

“Public Square,” Cleveland Historical, accessed February 28, 2015, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​22.​
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