Today, my mom, aunt (who is visiting from Louisiana) and I went on a guided tour of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Ryan and I had some of our engagement photos taken here, and I’ve visited several times throughout the years but never really knew much about the history.
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are located in East Cleveland and stretch along a picturesque few miles of MLK and East Boulevard. There are currently about 35 gardens and more in the process of being build.
Today we saw the Italian, Hungarian, Hebrew, Syrian, Croatian, German, and Irish cultural gardens. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we learned so much.
The land on which the gardens sit was dedicated to the City of Cleveland by John D. Rockefeller back in 1896, and the first garden, the Shakespeare Garden, was dedicated in 1916. Ten years later, the Hebrew Garden was dedicated and the city began to set aside other plots of land for other cultural groups.
From the Cultural Gardens Website: “In the 1930s and 1940s, the federal Works Progress Administration – Franklin D. Roosevelt’s jobs and infrastructure program – helped the city build the bridges and stonework that to this day beautify Rockefeller Park. Many of the early gardens representing European immigrants were helped along by the WPA and were an early testament to multiculturalism in Cleveland and the country.”
“The Cultural Gardens are unique to the world. They represent the diversity and multiculturalism that is Cleveland, and bring life to the Gardens’ mission of “peace through mutual understanding.”
I love that dozens of different cultures work together through gardens to create such a beautiful and harmonious environment.
Our tour guide mentioned that oftentimes the most marginalized immigrant groups found peace and understanding through community and the building of these gardens. They are truly a reflection of Cleveland’s immigrant history, past and present.
While we were visiting the Hungarian garden, we met a volunteer named Ernie. He had been at the dedication of the garden back in the 1930’s as a child and still comes to help today (he is 93 years old!).
If you have a chance, I would definitely recommend doing a guided tour of the gardens. We learned so much and all of the different gardens were stunning. As I look through my pictures it’s hard to believe that such a place exists so close to us!
Now for some of my favorite photos:
Syrian and Croatian gardens:
^this arch is meant to mimic a structure in Palmyra, Syria which has been largely destroyed in recent years.
^ This is one of my favorite pictures. Walking in between gardens, and looking through the beautiful foliage, it would be impossible to know you were in right in the middle of Cleveland.
Hebrew, Hungarian, German, Croatian, Irish, misc: