By Rita Knight-Gray, Host Committee member
Parks, green spaces, whatever the name, Cleveland has 167 parks, not including the Metro parks (Emerald Necklace) or State Parks. In the downtown area there are 11 parks/ green spaces from 0.09-acres on East 9th and Rockwell Avenue to Public Square’s 4-acre green space in the center of downtown. These are great places to have lunch (in most cases food trucks will be in the area), enjoy the lake’s cool breeze, people-watch, relax, reflect, and release. There are historical parks, like the 1796 Settlers Landing on the Cuyahoga River at the end of St. Clair Avenue where Moses Cleaveland landed. Public Square, which was also created at that time, contains the Perry Monument and the Soldiers’ Sailors’ Monument along with its many changes in 1976 and 1986. Public Square is also the site of a completely new green space for 2016, so please, pardon our dust!
Our downtown parks include:
- East 9th/Rockwell
- Heritage East Bank
- Heritage West Bank
- Mall A (Memorial Plaza))
- Mall B (Hanna Plaza)
- Mall C (Strawbridge)
- Public Square
- R.J. Perk Plaza
- Rotary Plaza
- Settler’s Landing Park
- Willard Park
Plan your Week!
Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. you can read, take a load off, relax, or people-watch while enjoying lunch at the Cleveland Public Library Eastman Reading Garden on 325-525 Superior nestled between the two library buildings in the heart of downtown. Dedicated in 1937 in honor of Linda Ann Eastman (1867–1963), Director of the Cleveland Public Library from 1918 – 1938, this small green space was turned into a quaint slice of heaven after the building of the Louis Stokes library addition.
Public Square may be in the rebuilding stage, but Tuesday is “Beats and Eats,” and food trucks will be across the street from the Square near the Old Stone Church. The First Presbyterian Church, later known as the Old Stone Church, grew from a Plan of Union Sunday school established in 1820, then incorporated as the First Presbyterian Society in 1827. It is the oldest structure on Public Square and one of Cleveland’s few early churches remaining in its original location. The sandstone church was the second church within the Cleveland limits, built at Ontario St. and Public Square during the early 1830s.
The Ralph J. Perk Plaza Park on 12th and Chester/Walnut is near the food truck available on Walnut Wednesdays, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. It is named after Cleveland’s 52nd mayor and first Republican to win a countywide office since the mid-1930s. The park was redeveloped in 2012 to accommodate the increase of the downtown residential population.
Voinovich Bicentennial Park hosts the food trucks’ Lunch by the Lake on Thursdays from noon – 2 p.m. Located behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center at the end of the 9th street pier, this quaint park provides a place to take your dog for a walk or simply relax in the shade. Major events like the Cleveland Wine Festival have taken place here along with music events and other events. It is a great place to have lunch, enjoy the cool lake breezes, and watch the people and various boats that pass by.
Willard Park consists of 0.72 acres of green space located on East 9th and Lakeside Avenue next to Cleveland City Hall, a few blocks from where the lake offers Food Truck Fridays 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. On Lakeside Avenue sits Oldenburg’s Free Stamp that was commissioned by the Standard Ohio Company (SOHIO) in 1982. Originally, the sculpture was to be displayed in front of the new SOHIO headquarters in the Public Square area; unfortunately British Petroleum (BP) acquired SOHIO, and the project was canceled. In 1991 BP agreed to continue the project but not to have the stamp in front of BP headquarters. After additional negotiations between the city and the artist, an agreement was made to place it in Willard Park, not standing upright but laying on its side, with the words “free” visible.