Cleveland Cultural Gardens Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
So you have never been to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens before. Here’s what you need to know.
What are the Cleveland Cultural Gardens?
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are part of Rockefeller Park which consists of land donated by John D. Rockefeller on Cleveland’s Centennial celebration in 1896. In 1916, a journalist and Shakespeare enthusiast named Leo Weidenthal helped establish the Shakespeare Garden which later became the British Garden. Weidenthal saw the multiplicity of nationalities that were in or coming to Cleveland and had a vision of using this City of Cleveland land as a tribute to them.
The second garden was the Hebrew Garden and it was dedicated in 1926. Later in the 1920’s and 30’s other nationalities began working on gardens to represent their own heritage. The history and growth of the Cultural Gardens is a mirror of the history and growth of Cleveland. The early gardens were predominantly European (Italian, German, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Irish, Slovak, etc.) because that’s who had been settling in Cleveland. As people from other areas came to Cleveland, interest in gardens for their heritage grew and new and proposed gardens focus on the Middle East, Asia and Africa. There is renewed interest and effort to complete African American and Native American Gardens. Soon there will be 35 or so gardens representing many of the diverse nationalities that make Cleveland home.
Are there other Gardens like the Cleveland Cultural Gardens?
No. The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are unique in the world. Cleveland is home to about 120 distinct ethnic groups and this diversity has led to this one-of a- kind treasure. Because of the Cultural Gardens, Cleveland is the only street in the world with a large statue of Mahatma Gandhi on a street named for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Not to mention larger than life statues of Mother Teresa and Confucius at the other ends of the road. Nowhere else can you find scientists like Copernicus, Tesla and Madame Curie mingled with composers such as Bach, Liszt, Chopin and Beethoven.
Where are the Cleveland Cultural Gardens?
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are part of Rockefeller Park and the 254 acres spans about 2 miles near University Circle. There are two main streets that have Gardens. The upper half is on East Blvd. starting at Superior Ave and going north past St Clair by the Cleveland Greenhouse. The lower half is on MLK Blvd. from just south of Superior going north past St Clair and toward the freeway. The Chinese Garden is also along MLK Jr. Blvd but located half way between Chester Avenue and East 105th, across from the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Wade Park Lagoon. The Gardens extend roughly 1.5 miles on both MLK and East Boulevards, so a complete walk around the Gardens would be about 3 miles in length.
How do I get to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens?
There is convenient freeway access to get to the Gardens. From the East Shoreway (Rte 90 – east or west bound) take the MLK exit. As you are driving, you will see brown Ohio signs on the Shoreway identifying that the Gardens are coming up. Once you exit the freeway you will be on MLK and the first Garden (Albanian Garden with a statue of Mother Teresa) will quickly be on your left. You can travel down MLK and see Gardens on both sides of the street. You can also turn left (east) up one of the streets to reach East Blvd. and the other group of Gardens. The Chinese Garden is also along MLK Jr. Blvd but located half way between Chester Avenue and East 105th, across from the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Wade Park Lagoon.
Where do I park?
If you are visiting the Gardens on a day without a major event like One World Day you will find ample parking on side streets and on MLK Blvd and East Blvd. You will see wider sections of the road where you can park on the street right in front of the Garden(s) you are visiting. Be sure to obey all posted parking signs. MLK Blvd. has a lot of traffic at certain times of the day so be especially careful. For large events such as One World Day, there will be special parking areas designated.
Are the Gardens safe?
Yes, they are part of a beautiful park in a beautiful neighborhood. You will see lots of people walking, riding bikes, jogging, taking photos and visiting the Gardens. Depending on when you visit you may see wedding parties, family picnics or members of a particular group sprucing up their Garden.
Can I find information at the Gardens?
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation has set up an Information Kiosk on MLK Blvd. near the midpoint of the Gardens (by the German Garden on the east side of the street). There you can find a map and other information about the Gardens. There is also an online mapping app that you can send to you phone or tablet that will help you navigate and learn more about the Gardens on your visit. Find it at http://www.clevelandculturalgardens.org/map
What is the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation?
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation (CCGF) is the group of volunteers who have created, maintained and improved the Gardens over the years. They have established a theme of the Gardens “Peace through mutual understanding” to showcase that Cleveland’s diversity can lead to peaceful coexistence.
For many decades, CCGF members have given their time, talent and treasure to build new gardens and raise funds to improve the gardens with new statues, monuments, plants and other features. They also do the mundane but necessary tasks like weeding and planting flowers – all for the love of their heritage and their City.
What will I see in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens?
There are currently 29 Cultural Gardens with about 6 more in progress. Each Garden has a sign and a flag of the nation it represents. In any particular Garden you may see statues of famous cultural figures, monuments to significant achievements and the like. The monuments focus on culture – science, music, art, history and heritage. Since these are gardens, you will also see trees, shrubs and flowers that may represent the particular garden’s home country. Some gardens have fountains or other water features. Note that there are several Cultural Gardens that have a presence on both East and MLK Boulevards with stairways or other access connecting them.
Are there bathrooms, water, food?
Larger events such as One World Day have plenty of portable restrooms and food and beverage options. On a normal day you should pack your own food and drink when you visit the Gardens and be aware that restroom facilities are very limited.
What should I bring when I go to the Cultural Gardens?
Bottled water and/or other food and beverages are a good idea depending on how long your visit will be. There are many outstanding photo opportunities so you may want to have a camera with you. Other than that, remember this is a park so comfortable walking shoes and whatever else you may need for a visit to a park.
What is One World Day?
Since 1945, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation has celebrated One World Day in the Gardens. This annual event reflects the theme of the Gardens: “Peace through Mutual Understanding.” That makes August 23, 2015 the 70th annual One World Day.
The annual One World Day is the highlight of the busy calendar of summer events in the Gardens and the one occasion that all the Gardens get together to celebrate as one. Events include a Parade of Flags, a naturalization ceremony, cultural performances, entertainment, gardens exhibitors, authentic diverse ethnic food and more. Learn more at http://clevelandoneworldday.org
The 2015 One World Day on August 23, 2015 is the official kickoff for the Centennial celebration of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
What is the Centennial celebration?
The first Cultural Garden was established in 1916, so 2016 will be the 100th anniversary of the Gardens. The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation is working with the City of Cleveland to provide many events and activities. The Centennial celebration of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens officially begins on One World Day August 23, 2015. Keep up to date by visiting www.clevelandculturalgardens.org.
Are there other events in the Gardens?
Yes. The Cleveland Cultural Gardens have many events throughout the year – mostly in the summer months. This includes annual events such as Opera in the Italian Garden, Liszt concert in the Hungarian Garden, Brass bands in the German Garden and more. Others may also have events in the Gardens (weddings, festivals, etc.) Keep up to date with the official events of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation by visiting www.clevelandculturalgardens.org.
How can I help support the Cultural Gardens?
Attend events like One World Day, visit the Gardens frequently and tell your friends. You can also become a Friend of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. For $20 per year you can become a Friend of the Gardens and support the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation’s efforts to publicize, restore and maintain the Cultural Gardens. Friends of the Garden receive the bi-monthly newsletter and invitations to events. Visit http://www.clevelandculturalgardens.org/friends-of-the-garden.