PUBLIC SQUARE

exploring with pod

 

C O M M U N I T Y  

 

July 2016

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We set off to explore, Pod and I. It was the Saturday before the 4th of July, when summer ahhhhs and a festive feeling hung in the air. We parked in Hingetown and she suggested, hey, let’s walk over the Detroit-Superior Bridge and check out the newly unveiled, newly redesigned Public Square. Didn’t need to ask me twice.

Other than the unveiling of the cool Cleveland Bench in April 2015, I hadn’t spent much time at Public Square what with all the construction, which began in March of that year.

The Group Plan Commission, appointed by Mayor Frank Jackson to update the Group Plan of 1903 for the 21st Century, at the beginning of the project provided the following mission statement: “Building upon the iconic vision of the Group Plan of 1903, we will renew the heart of Downtown Cleveland for today’s citizens and future generations by transforming and connecting the city’s signature public spaces.” Three priority projects were identified by the Commission, one being the redesign and revitalization of Public Square.

The four distinct quadrants have become one public park, which is designed to be used throughout the year. My first reaction (besides wanting to absorb all the details of course) was that it was a success.

Following the line of trees strung with white lights, I realized that with all the newness, it was difficult to remember the details of the old square, but still, at the same time, watching two playful wedding parties being photographed, it was clear that there is so much worth celebrating, remembering, and honoring. Perhaps it was that. Perhaps it was walking for the first time through the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, which commemorates Cuyahoga County veterans who served in the Civil War, chock-full of history (and bronze, granite, sandstone, artifacts in glass cases). And then there was the sound of children delighted by jets of water dancing at different heights at the fountain plaza, as they ran through or skirted splashes in their wet summer clothes. The sound of that: delight. Could each detail I captured in a photograph be a key to one of these celebratory memories? The mix of materials – cool stone and water, grass and plants, wood – capture the relaxation of families strolling babies or the joy of couples bobbing heads to live music on concert hill or the introspection of a passerby taking in the statue of a former mayor or a displayed cannon, for example.

According to the Commission, the updated square “invites people in and encourages them to stay.” By the number of people enjoying the square, tossing a Frisbee or going for a walk or people-watching, like they might at any neighborhood park, this seemed to be true.

And I knew I’d be back, to associate more details with more celebrations or happy sounds or music or the history of the city I am glad to be a part of.

Does feeling a sense of community help you remember the details of a place?

Public Square Texture

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