WADE LAGOON

cloudy Indian summer day

 

I N D E P E N D E N T  

 

October 2014

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My mom grew up in walking distance of Wade Lagoon. She tells stories of Easter Parades (or perhaps something less formal than that) when Clevelanders in their finery, women in big hats and long gloves, strolled the park, relaxed and chatting. She also fondly recalls (although she says others don’t seem to remember it) a brick birdhouse, on the right hand side of the lagoon, which faces the art museum from the south end of the park (she pictures in the same memory the large cast of Rodin’s The Thinker in the Fine Arts Garden).

These colorful recollections always sounded enchanted to me, like the feeling I got when I toured a swamp in Louisiana and entered a whole new world, mesmerized by Spanish moss dripping from trees and cypress knees poking up through the water. Or maybe it was the word “lagoon.” But Wade Lagoon at University Circle is certainly no swamp. In fact, it is part of the 60+ acre Wade Park, once the private estate of Jeptha H. Wade (you might recognize the name Wade as instrumental in the creation of the Cleveland Museum of Art). The local industrialist began to develop his wood- and farmland into a public park in 1872, and it became a major recreational area with tennis courts, balls fields, picnic areas—and yes, the lagoon—in 1892. Wade also gave Cleveland its first zoo on the property, which began with a donation of 14 deer, but soon grew with the addition of 100 pigeons, two vultures and a gull. So perhaps there is something to that birdhouse after all?

What is your favorite thing about Wade Lagoon? An experience? A feature? A story from the good-old-days?

Wade Park Texture

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