Public Square
Public Square is the central plaza
Town square
A town square is an open public space commonly found in the heart of a traditional town used for community gatherings. Other names for town square are civic center, city square, urban square, market square, public square, and town green.Most town squares are hardscapes suitable for open markets,...

 in downtown
Downtown Cleveland
Downtown Cleveland is the central business district of the City of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Reinvestment in the area in the mid-1990s spurred a rebirth that continues to this day, with over $2 billion in residential and commercial developments slated for the area over the next few years...

 Cleveland, Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It takes up four city blocks; Superior Avenue and Ontario Street cross through it. Cleveland's three tallest buildings, Key Tower
Key Tower
Key Tower is a skyscraper on Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio designed by architect César Pelli. It is the tallest building in both the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio, the 18th tallest building in the United States, and the 70th tallest building in the world...

, 200 Public Square and the Terminal Tower
Terminal Tower
The Terminal Tower is a landmark skyscraper located on Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It was built during the skyscraper boom of the 1920s and 1930s, and was the second-tallest building in the world when it was completed. The Terminal Tower stood as the tallest building in North America...

, face the square. Other Public Square landmarks include the 1855 Old Stone Church and the former Higbee's
Higbee's was a department store founded 1860 in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1992, Higbee's stores were re-branded as part of Dillard's.-History:Higbee's was founded by Edwin Converse Higbee and John G. Hower on September 10, 1860 as Higbee & Hower Dry Goods. The first day of business saw $100 in sales. ...

 department store made famous in the 1983 film A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story is a 1983 American Christmas comedy film based on the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of author and raconteur Jean Shepherd, including material from his books In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories. It was directed by Bob Clark...


A 125-foot monument to Civil War soldiers and sailors
Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument (Cleveland)
The Cuyahoga County Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument is a monument to Civil War soldiers and sailors from Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Located in the southeast quadrant of Public Square in downtown Cleveland, it was designed by architect Levi Scofield , who also created the monument's sculptures and...

 occupies the southeast quadrant of the square. City founder Moses Cleaveland
Moses Cleaveland
Moses Cleaveland was a lawyer, politician, soldier, and surveyor from Connecticut who founded the U.S. city of Cleveland, Ohio, while surveying the Western Reserve in 1796.-Early life:...

 and reformist mayor Tom L. Johnson
Tom L. Johnson
Thomas Loftin Johnson , better known as Tom L. Johnson, was an American politician of the Democratic Party from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He headed relief efforts after the Johnstown, Pennsylvania floods of 1889, was a U.S. Representative from 1891–1895 and the 35th mayor of...

 each have statues on the square.


Public Square was part of the Connecticut Land Company
Connecticut Land Company
The Connecticut Land Company was formed in the late eighteenth century to survey and encourage settlement in the Connecticut Western Reserve, part of the Old Northwest Territory. The Western Reserve is located in Northeast Ohio with its hub being Cleveland. In 1795, the Connecticut Land Company...

's original plan for the city, which were overseen by Moses Cleaveland
Moses Cleaveland
Moses Cleaveland was a lawyer, politician, soldier, and surveyor from Connecticut who founded the U.S. city of Cleveland, Ohio, while surveying the Western Reserve in 1796.-Early life:...

 in the 1790s. The square is signature of the layout for early New England towns, which Cleveland was modeled after. While it initially served as a common pasture for settlers' animals, less than a century later Public Square was the height of modernity, when in 1879 it became the first street in the world to be lit with electric street light
Street light
A street light, lamppost, street lamp, light standard, or lamp standard is a raised source of light on the edge of a road or walkway, which is turned on or lit at a certain time every night. Modern lamps may also have light-sensitive photocells to turn them on at dusk, off at dawn, or activate...

s, arc lamp
Arc lamp
"Arc lamp" or "arc light" is the general term for a class of lamps that produce light by an electric arc . The lamp consists of two electrodes, first made from carbon but typically made today of tungsten, which are separated by a gas...

s designed by Cleveland native Charles F. Brush
Charles F. Brush
Charles Francis Brush was a U.S. inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist.-Biography:Born in Euclid Township, Ohio, Brush was raised on a farm about 10 miles from downtown Cleveland...

. The square was added to the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 on December 18, 1975.

A parking lot now faces the northwest quadrant of the square. A 12-story building, which was built on the spot in 1913, was demolished in 1990 to make way for the new Ameritrust Center, an 1197 feet (364.8 m) skyscraper
A skyscraper is a tall, continuously habitable building of many stories, often designed for office and commercial use. There is no official definition or height above which a building may be classified as a skyscraper...

 designed by New York's Kohn Pedersen Fox
Kohn Pedersen Fox
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates , an architectural firm responsible for several world-renowned buildings, provides architectural, interior and urban design as well as programming and master planning services for clients in both the public and private sectors...

. Before construction began, Ameritrust was acquired by Society Bank
Key Bank
KeyBank is a regional bank headquartered in Key Tower within Cleveland, Ohio's Public Square. , it is the 19th largest bank in the United States based on total deposits...

, which was also planning to construct and subsequently relocate to a new building on Public Square — Key Tower (formerly known as Society Center). Because Society did not need two skyscrapers, plans for the Ameritrust building across the square were scrapped.

Other buildings that face the square include 55 Public Square
55 Public Square
55 Public Square is a 22-story skyscraper located at number 55 Public Square, the town square of downtown Cleveland, Ohio...

 (1958), 75 Public Square (1915), the Society for Savings Building
Society for Savings Building
The Society for Savings Building, also known as the Society Corp. Building, is a high-rise building on Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. The building was constructed in 1889, and stood as the tallest building in Cleveland until 1896, when it was surpassed by the 221-foot ...

 (1890), Metzenbaum Courthouse (1910), the former May Company
May Company Ohio
The May Company Ohio is a defunct chain of department stores that was based in Cleveland, Ohio, United States.-History:In 1899, David May, the founder of May Department Stores, acquired E. R. Hull & Dutton Co. of Cleveland on Ontario Street, renaming it May Company, Cleveland...

 department store (1914), the Park Building (1903), and the Renaissance
Renaissance Hotels
Renaissance Hotels is a worldwide brand of hotels and resorts. The brand is owned by Marriott International and many Renaissance Hotels are managed by Marriott; however, some are operated under a franchise license. Renaissance Hotels, Resorts and Suites cater to an upmarket segment of the traveling...

 Cleveland Hotel (1918). The demolished Cuyahoga Building (1893) and Williamson Building (1900) formerly stood on the site of 200 Public Square. U.S. routes 42
U.S. Route 42
U.S. Route 42 is an east–west United States highway that runs northeast-southwest for 355 miles from Cleveland, Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky. The route has several names including Pearl Road from Cleveland to Medina in Northeast Ohio, the Cincinnati and Lebanon Pike in southwestern Ohio and...

, 322
U.S. Route 322
U.S. Route 322 is a long, east–west United States Highway, traversing Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The road is a spur of U.S. Route 22 and one of the original highways from 1926...

, and 422
U.S. Route 422
U.S. Route 422 is a long spur route of US 22 split into two segments in the U.S. states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The western spur begins in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and ends at Ebensburg, Pennsylvania...

 and several Ohio state highways begin at Public Square. U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6 , also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, a name that honors an American Civil War veterans association, is a main route of the U.S. Highway system, running east-northeast from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Until 1964, it continued south from Bishop to...

 passes through the square on Superior, and U.S. Route 20
U.S. Route 20
U.S. Route 20 is an east–west United States highway. As the "0" in its route number implies, US 20 is a coast-to-coast route. Spanning , it is the longest road in the United States, and the route sparsely parallels Interstate 90...

 enters from the west on Superior and leaves via Euclid Avenue.

Public Square is often the site of political rallies and civic functions, including a free annual Independence Day
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

 concert by the Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall...


Re-imagining the square

In collaboration with landscape architect James Corner
James Corner
James Corner is a Landscape Architect and theorist with numerous works to his credit which explore the contemporary meaning of architectural landscaping, with a focus on "developing innovative approaches toward landscape architectural design and urbanism." His designs of note include Fresh Kills...

, the city has begun to explore concepts for a redesign of the square. Three proposals by Corner are being considered. One concept, "Forest It", calls for closing Ontario Street and creating two large rectangles filled with trees native to Ohio, including maples and oaks. A large "sun lawn" clearing would be established on the northern rectangle, creating an area for concerts. The southern portion would feature shade gardens, fountains and "renaissance gardens". The trees will allow the city to play on its "Forest City" nickname.

Another concept, "Frame It", would frame the square with a lattice measuring 55 feet high and 40 feet thick. Vines would be trained up the sides of the trellis, creating a green wall around the square. A large aperture would leave the trellis open when it reaches the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The trellis would allow for solar panels to power surrounding lighting.

The final (and currently favored) concept, "Thread It", would erect a man-made hill over the intersection of Superior Avenue and Ontario Street, with four main lobes rising from the four quadrants of the square. Pedestrians could climb the hill, which would rise 20 feet above grade.

In October 2011, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson proposed his plan to redevelop the square. He wants to close Superior Avenue and Ontario Street where they cross the 10-acre space to make it a big central park in the heart of the city. The major described a unified Public Square as the centerpiece of an effort to connect all of downtown’s disparate districts with continuous green paths and streetscapes friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists.
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