German Cultural Garden

In the 19th and 20th centuries Germans formed one of Cleveland's largest nationality groups. They began arriving here in substantial numbers during the 1830s, after the canals were built. The first German settlements were built along Lorain Street in Brooklyn and along Superior and Garden (Central Ave.) Streets on the east side. Succeeding generations have lived among the rest of the city's population.

Between 1840 and 1846 Cleveland's population grew from 6,000 to 10,000. One third of this growth was due to immigrants arriving from Germany. By 1848-49, the German-born population reached 2,590 (60 less than the total of all other foreign-born residents). German immigrants remained the largest ethnic group arriving in the city until the mid-1890s. By 1900, more than 40,000 Germans resided in Cleveland. Immigration continued into the twentieth century, but on a smaller scale. German culture and customs in Cleveland have been preserved both in Gemuetlichkeit (public festivity) and German clubs.

Clara Lederer writes that "The Cultural Gardens fountain, stone walks and double lateral sections of linden alleys center about an impressive bronze two-figure statue of Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) and Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), Germany's greatest two poet-philosophers. The statue is a replica of the famous Weimar statue, modeled in 1856 by Ernest Reitschal, the Dresden sculptor. Here tower the two mighty figures, joined in friendship as they were in life, and grandly dominate the spacious and imposing German Garden. The garden is entered at the upper Boulevard level through a triple-arched ornamental iron gate. The German Cultural Garden was dedicated on June 2, 1929, as part of a week-long celebration commemorating the Lessing-Mendelssohn Bi-centennial. The Lessing bust was unveiled at this time, and the Goethe-Schiller statue, which formerly had stood in Wade Park, was rededicated in its new place of honor in the German Garden."

The garden also commemorates other German heroes with plaques, busts, a gate and fountain. Among the many figures honored are naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), composers Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827), and artist and theorist Albrecht Durer (1471-1528).

Audio

Schiller Attacked By Mums! Phyllis M. Glaeser describes some of the challenges involved in the upkeep of the German Garden, but expresses optimism for the garden's continued revitalization. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Johann Sebastian Bach This is a selection from German composer Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, Movement 3 - Allegro assai. Found at International Music Score Library Project (imslp.org
Ludwig van Beethoven This is an excerpt from German composer, Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet No 15 Op, 132, Movement 3. Molto Adagio. Found at International Music Score Library Project

Images

Goethe & Schiller, Nov. 1936 Cast in heroic scale, the monument to Goethe & Schiller towers above the German Cultural Garden. Originally located in the Wade Oval, the statue was moved to its current location in 1929 for the opening of the cultural garden. This memorial is actually one of several replicas located around the world. The original sculpture can be found in Weimar, Germany. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
German Garden, 1940 Landscapers work at the German Cultural Garden in 1940. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Heine Dedication, June 1931 The bust of Heinrich Heine was unveiled on June 14th, 1931, marking the 75th anniversary of the poet's death. Musical renditions of Heine's poetry were performed by the Cleveland Vereinigte Saenger. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Tree Planting Ceremony, Sep. 1933 World-renowned opera signer Ernestine Schumann-Heink plants a tree at the German Cultural Garden on September 7, 1933. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Jahn Bust, March 1936 The bust of Friedrich Jahn, one of the founders of modern gymnastics, was dedicated on May 1, 1931. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Von Humboldt Unveiling, 1970 The caption for this photograph reads: "A bronze bust of German scientist and philanthropist Alexander von Humboldt is unveiled by Andre Dono, executive assistant to Mayor Carl B. Stokes and Mrs. Irene Meyer, German consul general." Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Location

1036 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44108 | East Blvd near Shakespeare Pkwy, midway between St Clair and Superior Aves, and between Lithuanian and Hungarian Gardens.

Metadata

“German Cultural Garden,” Cleveland Historical, accessed October 5, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/130.