Public Square

Cleveland, OH

Submitted by: Shin-pei Tsay

The roads that carve up this downtown square make it nearly impossible to reach by foot, squandering its prime location.

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Why It Doesn't Work

Cleveland's Public Square is surrounded by wide roads with fast moving traffic. Streets also divide the square into four quadrants, and few people want to dodge the cars and trucks in order to visit. So, there's little going on there. The Square's mediocrity is all the more frustrating in light of its promising location: Cleveland's main street, Euclid Avenue, connects Public Square to Playhouse Square, the city's theater district, and the Square fronts Terminal Tower, a beautiful old mixed-used, transit-centered development. Public Square's saving grace may be the potential to use these nearby assets to reconnect itself to the attractive downtown.

The first priority should be to make Public Square more accommodating to pedestrians by narrowing intersections, reducing the number of vehicle lanes, and slowing down traffic. These steps are prerequisite to creating better connections between the Square and key places along its edges, such as Terminal Tower. These improved connections set the stage for increased coordination between neighboring property owners and the reintroduction of lively ground floor uses in all the buildings that face the Square. The finishing touch would be to program activities and create attractions and amenities to support this programming within each of the Square's four quadrants.

The City of Cleveland, led by Mayor Jane Campbell, has already held a visioning session with stakeholders in the area to develop ideas for improving Public Square. We hope to see these ideas implemented soon.

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