Living History: Our City Beautiful

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Living History: Our City Beautiful
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Civic Commons says
(This is a broad overview. The details that fill in this story are fascinating, full of battles over power and money, with scandals and backstabbing of epic and city-changing proportions. In important ways, these fights are still going on today, as people and companies fight over what the city will look like in the future - from hotels and convention centers to the proposed Bridge to the Lakefront. If you care about how Cleveland has been designed, you'll want to come to this event.)

Once upon a time in Cleveland, people could put up buildings wherever and however they wanted. There was no planning authority, no building codes, no citizen input, no oversight, and nobody had to worry about aesthetic coherence. Then, in 1893, Chicago held a World’s Fair, where architects created what was called the “White City” - a planned, aesthetically coherent and impressive vision of what they thought cities should be.

People took notice. Because of this fair, architects across the country launched the “City Beautiful” movement in the United States, with the goal of having planned, attractive cities. Because of the City Beautiful movement, people in Cleveland started thinking about what they could do to create a more orderly and attractive city, with impressive and imposing government buildings, malls and parks, shopping centers, train depots, and living spaces. And because people started thinking about making Cleveland a nice place to live, they hired architects to come up with a plan.

That plan was the Group Plan of 1903. And because of the battles over the City Beautiful movement and its Group Plan, we have the Cleveland of today.

On July 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the Happy Dog, we invite you to experience this story as part of our Living History project. Our panel of architects and urban design experts will be telling us about the Cleveland of 150 years ago, the path to the Plan, and what that means for the future of our region. And, as you’d expect from the venue, there will be hot dogs and cold beverages.

So come down and hear Kent State professor Steve Rugare and architects Jennifer Coleman and David Ellison as we explore Cleveland’s concrete history and future.
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By: Civic Commons

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