Neighborhoods: Shaker Square Is Neither

By Leslie Cade, Host Committee member

One of the country’s earliest planned shopping districts borders Cleveland and one of its poshest residential suburbs, Shaker Heights. The masterminds behind Shaker were eccentric brothers Oris P. and Mantis J. Van Sweringen, real estate and railroad tycoons who wanted to build an exclusive suburban retreat for Cleveland businessmen with easy access to their offices downtown.  Their plan for a small train station grew into the central terminus known as the Terminal Tower that SAA conference goers will pass through on their way to the Cleveland convention center, and lodge in at the Renaissance Hotel.

The Van Sweringen brother’s home, Shaker Heights. (Via ClevelandHistorical.org)
The Van Sweringen brother’s home, Shaker Heights. (Via ClevelandHistorical.org)

But I digress. Originally designed as a circle in 1927, the plan for the Square changed to an octagon to accommodate parking. The four quadrants are designed in the American Colonial-Georgian style to conform with the “Vans” vision for their suburb. Over the years Shaker Square has remained a community center with shops, restaurants, professional offices, and activities from music and art fairs to the North Union Farmers Market.

Shaker Square. (via Cleveland.com)
Shaker Square. (via Cleveland.com)

Two light rail trains transport commuters from the far reaches of Shaker Heights to the Terminal Tower and points in between. Hop on the green or the blue line to Shaker Square and enjoy dinner at James Beard nominee chef Douglas Katz’ Fire or Edwins, the awe inspiring French restaurant managed by formerly incarcerated adults through the Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute.

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