The Cleveland Cultural Gardens and the Peoples of Former Austria-Hungary in the 1930s

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens and the Peoples of Former Austria-Hungary in the 1930s

By Kristina Poznan

Within its 276 acres, Rockefeller Park hosts a unique collection of public gardens, 33 in all, each a celebration of an immigrant group settled in Ohio. Of these, several represent migrants from the lands of the former Habsburg Empire. Its goals were visionary. “Cleveland Cultural Gardens are accomplishing in their community the same thing that the League of Nations is trying to do for the world,” League representative Guillame Swiss proclaimed in 1935. The Cultural Gardens offered local ethnic communities the opportunity to design gardens to celebrate their culture through statues to “poets and other cultural leaders.” The Cleveland City Council had authorized the creation of an expanded series of culturally driven landscape features in Rockefeller Park in 1927, many of which opened in the 1930s. Local committees handled many of the preparations with critical assistance from the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration for execution of the infrastructure. As historian Mark Tebeau explains, “The gardens “reveal the history of immigration to, and migration within, the United States.”

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