Friday, June 11, 2010

Where is the University Circle circle?

The neighborhood around Cleveland Museum of Art, Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History is known as University Circle. For a long time, perhaps longer than I should admit, I thought that the circle the name referred to was the one made by Wade Oval, the road that runs in front of the art and natural history museums, and the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. There was a certain logic to this - after all, it is the only reasonably circular road in the University Circle area.

Alas, this was not true. University Circle, which eventually gave name to the whole neighborhood, was a traffic circle, located at approximately Euclid Avenue and Stearns Road.

This plate, from the 1898 Atlas of the city of Cleveland, Ohio illustrates the University Circle area. The actual circle can be seen just to the right of center.

The circle lasted at least into the 1950s. As roads were realigned, the circle was eliminated.

This map is just one of the many great research sources available online thanks to the Cleveland Public Library maps collection.


  1. Fascinating to see Cleveland's first zoo in the place where the Cleveland Botanical Garden is now. Elk, alligator, eagle, bears, wild cats, coons, wolves... "Known as the Cleveland Zoological Park until 1975, it evolved from a herd of American deer placed in land on the east side donated to the city by JEPTHA WADE† on 15 Sept. 1882."

    And the Perry Monument was there for a while, too, and shows up on this map. And though it had not yet been completed, the map shows the placement of the Harvey Rice monument ("The monument was cast by Bureau Brothers of Philadelphia in 1899 and dedicated in November of that year.)

    It also appears that the culverting of Doan Brook began way back then as well. It appears to disappear below Euclid on the south side (upstream) and reemerge on the north side of the avenue. Or is that a bridge?

    Also of note in this map - Severance had yet to envision the Walker Weeks commission of a home for the orchestra.

  2. I hear that University Circle Inc. is planning on landscaping that area to delineate where the circle used to be and will position a former Cleveland streetcar there to add some local color.

  3. What about the lovely "Osmosis" by Scott Murase? Or do you mean they plan to move Mark Hanna? Surely they wouldn't interfere with the Fine Arts Garden...