Oral History and Euclid Avenue
This project has evolved from the work of Cleveland Public Art's work with the Regional Transportation Authority to develop public art for the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project. Our efforts to understand and interpret the "stories" of Euclid Avenue--as a place and lens through which to understand the region--is constantly evolving as our work continues. Most notably, we have envisioned a "virtual" Euclid Avenue that will run parallel to the "real" Euclid Avenue, with interfaces between the virtual, historic world and the physical world of buses and transit located at key points along the corridor. As our partnership expands, our work progresses, and the community becomes more and more involved in defining Euclid Avenue as a living space, we imagine that the project will continue to evolve.
The Euclid Corridor Transportation Project is a $168 million transit improvement project stretching from Public Square in downtown Cleveland to the neighboring city of East Cleveland. Throughout this 6.7 mile stretch, Euclid Avenue will be reconstructed from building face to building face. The project will incorporate new sidewalks, road ways, a center median for loading and unloading transit vehicles, new transit stops, and streetscape enhancements such as landscaping, seating, pedestrian-scaled lighting, and public art. Commute times will be improved dramatically – with the average time between Euclid Corridor vehicles being no more than 6 minutes.
North-South Connections & Neighborhood History
Euclid Avenue traverses the east side of Cleveland and connects its two largest employment centers, downtown and University Circle. Along the way it passes through 7 or 8 distinct neighborhoods and districts. While these communities have changed over the years, a significant amount of their cultural history has remained. Places of worship, civic institutions, and neighborhood strongholds have survived many waves of transformation. Along with the institutional and built resources of the neighborhoods, residents and community members continue to shape and define their corner of the city.
The goal of the project is to capture, preserve, and archive the stories of these Euclid Avenue neighborhoods and the people that live within them though audio-based oral histories. The audio elements will be incorporated into the Euclid Corridor project at key sites (stations) along the street; with the intent to educate Clevelanders about civic history, enhance the transit riding experience, and to create a stronger connection between Euclid Avenue and the neighborhoods through which it passes.
Two artists are currently working with the project’s design team to outline a strategy for building connections to the neighborhoods off of Euclid. Using signage, wayfinding, mapping, and other graphic-oriented approaches, the team is attempting to reinforce district identities and create a structure of understanding and exploring the city. The audio history will be another layer of information to create a more fully developed and engaging experience throughout the corridor.
A team of Professors, researchers and students in the History Department at Cleveland State University, located along the Euclid Avenue corridor, have conducted in-depth studies of the various communities and identified critical sites, stories, and individuals that will serve as the programmatic framework for the oral history project. In subsequent phases of the project, student researchers will build on the work of previous student and begin collecting hours of audio interviews that will be produced and edited for inclusion in the final project.
With a growing number of project partners that now includes the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland State University, Cleveland Public Art, and Ideastream (WCPN – WVIZ, public radio/TV affiliates), the project is quickly becoming a living organism that will be designed to grow and develop as an on-going partnership.
Proposed Sites for Oral History Installations
Public Square; E. 9th; Playhouse Square; E. 19th; E. 40th; E. 59th; between E. 60th and E. 90th (TBD); E. 93rd; Adelbert Road – University Circle; Ford-Euclid – University Circle.
Greg Peckham, Interim Director, Cleveland Public Art
Mark Tebeau, Associate Professor, Cleveland State University