Cultural Gardens

Tour curated by: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities

Perhaps the world's first peace garden, the Gardens embody the history of twentieth-century America. They reveal the history of immigration to, and migration within, the United States. They comment on how we have built communities and constructed our identities as individuals and collectives. The gardens reveal the stories of the major conflicts that gave shape to the century: World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. They also provide insight into the large social, economic, political, and cultural upheavals that roiled through the nation during the last century: the Great Depression, suburbanization, the Civil Rights Movement, and the deindustrialization of America's industrial heartland.

This is a story of hope and despair, joy and sadness, conflict and cooperation, growth and decline. The stones, paths, and memories of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens tell us what it has meant to be an American.

Locations for Tour

Cleveland's Chinese population began to slowly grow after the 1860s. In 1880, the U.S. census counted a total of 23 Chinese and Japanese immigrants living in the city. The 1890 census recorded 38 Chinese with the number exceeding 100 by 1900.…

There are two sections to the American Legion Peace Garden. One celebrates the international contributions with intermingled soil; it is designated the American Legion Peace Garden (Nations). The other celebrates distinctive "American"…

The first Irish immigrants arrived in Cleveland in the early 1820s, with approximately 500 Irishmen and women residing in the city by 1826. Within two decades, the number had doubled, reaching 1,024 by the late 1840s. The passing of another twenty…

The American Colonial Cultural Garden is planted with native varieties of trees, shrubs and vines to creat a forest in the gardens. It also contains a number of busts made by Frank Jirouch. On May 24, 1935, the Parent Teachers Association Council…

The Hebrew Garden was designed by T. Ashburton Tripp. It was the first garden to be built after the Shakespeare Garden and signaled the formal beginning of the Cultural Gardens. Dedicated in 1926, it is a monument to the Zionist movement, as well as…

Originally inaugurated by Leo Weidenthal, Shakespeare Garden (now British Garden) was the seed that eventually led to the formation of the Cultural Gardens. Dedicated in 1916, the Shakespeare bust and the Shakespeare Garden originated as part of a…

The Hungarian Cultural Garden began with the dedication of a bas-relief to composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886) on the site in 1934; it was completed and formally dedicated in 1938. The Garden is constructed on two levels along the upper boulevard, and…

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…

Dedicated in October 1936, the Lithuanian Cultural Garden extends from East Boulevard down three levels to Martin Luther King Boulevard. Designed by Professor Dubinecras in Lithuania, the garden was adjusted by the City Plan Commission of Cleveland…

Greeks form a small but cohesive ethnic group in Cleveland. Panagiotis Koutalianos, a fabled "strong man," is said to have been the first Greek to settle in Cleveland in the 1880s. Between 1890 and 1925, another 5,000 Greeks settled in…

With the dedication of a bust of the poet Virgil, the Italian Cultural Garden was opened on October 12, 1930 before a crowd of 3000 local Italians celebrating Columbus Day and the 2000th anniversary of Virgil's birth. Over the next decade, the…

Slovaks began immigrating to Cleveland in the late 1870s, settling first around E. 9th Street near the Cuyahoga River. As the community grew some members moved to the lower Buckeye Road neighborhood between E. 78th Street and Woodhill Road. Others…

The plot of land that makes up the Rusin Cultural Garden is located along East Boulevard. It was dedicated in June, 1939. Most Rusins immigrated to Cleveland in the period from 1880 to World War I. The Rusins are an Eastern Slavic ethnic group who…

Dedicated in 1935, the Czech Cultural Garden tells the story of migrants from the central European region of Bohemia and Moravia through a sculptured frieze depicting the history of the migration of Czechs to the United States. Landscape architects…

Originally named the Yugoslav Cultural Garden, the Slovenian Garden is located near the intersection of St. Clair Avenue and East Boulevard, adjacent to the Polish Garden. Over 100,000 people paraded in support of the Yugoslav Garden's…

Located at the corner of St. Clair and East Boulevard, the Polish Cultural Garden was dedicated in 1934 with the planting of an elm tree from Poland. Originally designed as a sunken, hexagonal court, the Polish Garden was designed with organic…

Dedicated September 19th, 2010, the Armenian Cultural Garden celebrates the distinctive identity of the Armenian people. Designed by architect Berj A. Shakarian, the site plan is devised in the form of the "vesica piscis", a sacred…

Dedicated on October 5, 2008, the Serbian Cultural Garden features a central plaza with a marble cube and circular concrete seating. The plaza also contatins the garden's message: "Only Unity Saves The Serbs". A pebble mosaic surrounds…

The Azerbaijan Garden was dedicated on May 12, 2008. Khanlar Gasimov's sculpture, "Hearth," stands at the center of the Garden. Made of polished stainless steel, the bowl-shaped sculpture allows viewers to see the reflection of the…

Not in the original chain of gardens, the Romanian Cultural Garden was inaugurated in 1967. This wide expanse of green space, surrounded by evergreens and maples, is home to a life-size bronze statue of twentieth century musician and composer George…

The African American Cultural Garden was dedicated in 1977 following years of effort by local community leaders such as Booker T. Tall. Since then the African American Cultural Garden's construction has lain mostly dormant as the delegation…

Located along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and opposite the Greek Garden, the Ukrainian Garden was inaugurated in 1940. The garden is composed of a series of brick and stone courts connected by paved walks. The South Court of this formal place…

The Latvian Cultural Garden was dedicated on October 8, 2006. The garden was designed by landscape architect Albert Park and assisted by local architect Kalvis Kampe. An unusually colored flagstone walk leads visitors past a number of sculpturs. The…

In 1966, the city's Estonian community unveiled a symbolic flame to Estonia--then a state within the USSR. Designed by Oberlin graduate and prominent architect Herk Visnapuu, the Estonian Garden features an abstract sculpture, an inscribed…

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,…

Dedicated in 2005, the Indian Cultural Garden was the first to be added to the chain of gardens since 1985, when the Chinese Cultural Garden was inaugurated. Individuals from all regions of India have immigrated to Cleveland with more coming from…
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