Finnish Cultural Garden

Originally dedicated in 1958, the Finnish Cultural Garden was rededicated in 1964, celebrating Finnish cultural identity in the face of Russian imperialism.

Finnish immigrants first settled in Cleveland in 1885. More Finns arrived over the years, with most settling in the Clifton Avenue area between W. 25th St. and W. 38th St. This section of the city eventually came to be known as "Little Finland." The Finnish community grew relatively slowly at first, with the 1900 U.S. Census recording only 79 Finns residing in Cleveland. Another 592 arrived over the next 20 years, and by 1930, the census recorded 3,000 Finns living in the city. Of these, about half resided in the Clinton Avenue area. The Finnish settlements in and around Cleveland remained small and descendants often moved into the general population rather than stay in community neighborhoods. By the 1980s Cleveland's "Little Finland" no longer existed.

The Finnish Cultural Garden contains 4 busts of prominent Finns and a granite tablet that is dedicated to the spirit of the Finnish people and memorializes Aleksis Kivi, a Finnish author (1834-1872) who wrote the first significant novel in the Finnish language. The busts commemorate: Elias Lonnrot, a physician and folklorist (1802-1884); Jean Sibelius, a composer (1865-1957); Johan Ludvic Runeberg, a poet (1804-1877); and Johan Vilhelm Snellman, a statesman and philosopher (1806-1881).

Audio

A Bad First Impression Olli Patrikainen talks about how he became involved with the Finnish Cultural Garden and describes his first visit there. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Jean Sibelius This is an excerpt from Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius's Finlandia, Op. 26. Found at International Music Score Library Project

Images

Snellman & Runeberg
Snellman & Runeberg The busts of Johan Ludvic Runeberg and Johan Vilhelm Snellman were unveiled at the Finnish Cultural Garden in 1964. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: 1964
Finnish Cultural Garden, 1959
Finnish Cultural Garden, 1959 A tranquil scene at the Finnish Cultural Garden with the Doan Brook in the background. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: 1959
Sibelius Bust
Sibelius Bust Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: 1966
Finnish Coat of Arms
Finnish Coat of Arms This coat of arms can be found on the Alexis Kivi monument at the Finnish Garden. Creator: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities

Location

Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Cleveland, OH | The garden is located on the west side of Martin Luther King Jr Dr approx. 1/4 mile north of the stone bridge carrying Superior Ave over the road.

Metadata

Mark Tebeau, “Finnish Cultural Garden,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 13, 2024, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/110.