Welcome to another edition of “Cleveland Walks”: curated audio tours of the Cleveland area’s most interesting, attractive and historically rich areas. This segment takes you through, and around, what could be downtown’s most important architectural space: the Cleveland Mall. Your starting point for this experience is the Fountain of Eternal Life Statue, located at the south end of the Mall, about 75 yards from Rockwell Avenue on the south, Key Tower on the west and the former Board of Education building on the east. The roughly 90-minute tour will talk about the development and role of the Mall itself and introduce you to many of the area’s most significant buildings.
The Mall and Key Center
The Group Plan of 1903 literally and figuratively reshaped downtown Cleveland. Surrounding a 26-acre blanket of green space are some of the most beautiful and iconic buildings ever erected in our city. Looming over them all is Key Tower—one of the tallest structures between New York and Chicago.
Cleveland Board of Education Building
For more than 70 years, this handsome sandstone, Beaux-Arts building was headquarters for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. When District decision makers opted for a new home, the structure became what is arguably one of the city’s most unique hotels. Check out the lobby for a taste of some great mid-century art.
Federal Reserve Building
Your money lives in way cooler digs than you do. It’s also better protected: This facility includes hidden gun ports, slots for sharpshooters, concrete walls 6.5 feet thick and a bank vault door that weighs 100 tons and is five feet thick—the largest of its kind in the world.
Cleveland Public Library
Who knew that the Cleveland Public Library was home to so many “firsts?” It’s true: CPL has one of the largest book collections in the United States (nearly ten million items). It also was the first major library to institute an open-shelf policy and among the first to 1) classify books according to subject matter and 2) design programs and collections for children. More recently, it became the first library in the U.S. to offer e-book downloads.
Howard M. Metzenbaum United States Courthouse
Few Cleveland public buildings feature as much significant artwork and statuary as the Howard M. Metzenbaum United States Courthouse. It also is the site of myriad history-making events—from the trial of Eugene Debs in 1918 to civil suits relating to the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State University.
Global Center for Health Innovation
Tenants of the Global Center for Health Innovation (previously known as the Medical Mart) include nearly 50 of the world’s leading healthcare brands. The building also hosts more than 300 industry meetings per year in its many conference rooms and soaring common space.
Cuyahoga County Courthouse
How many statues can you recognize? Here are some hints: The 4th president of the United States. The father of our country’s financial system. The founder of England’s House of Commons. The most iconic Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. The most important prophet in Judaism.
Cleveland City Hall
For more than 100 years, Cleveland’s government business was attended to in spaces shared with everything from a ladies clothing store to a hotel to artist studios. Not until the 20th century did the City actually have an entire structure for its city hall.
Public Auditorium and the Cleveland Convention Center
Lots of history here: The 1924, 1936 and 2016 Republican National Conventions, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera, Django Reinhardt, Duke Ellington, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Supremes, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones, to name but a few.