This tour explores a number of world-famous cultural institutions that surround Wade Park in Cleveland's University Circle neighborhood.
University Circle, which originated as a trolley turnaround, had its start as Cleveland's cultural center in the 1880s when Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology (two institutions which later merged to form Case Western Reserve University) moved to the area, and when Jeptha Wade, one of the founders of Western Union Telegram Company, donated to Cleveland a large tract of land adjacent to the college campuses to be used as a park.
In this era, University Circle was also the residential neighborhood of many of Cleveland's most wealthy citizens. These citizens supported the founding, or in some instances the relocation, of a number of cultural institutions to the Circle during a period which stretched from 1898 to 1961.
Western Reserve Historical Society moved to the Circle in 1898, and to its present location on the Circle in 1938-1941. The Cleveland Museum of Art was built on the Circle in 1916. In 1930-31, three important institutions were added--Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Severance Hall, and University Hospitals. In the 1961 the "cultural necklace" at Wade Park was rendered complete with the arrival of the Natural History Museum and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Since 1957, when a master plan began to coordinate future development, University Circle has been a centerpiece of Cleveland's attempts to encourage economic development. Pitched in the 1960s as an important asset for industrial firms contemplating relocation to Greater Cleveland, University Circle reflected efforts to craft a suburban oasis in the city. Today the Circle is a bona fide tourist destination and bustling urban district, thanks to a transformation in institutional planning in the past decade.