Welcome to University Circle

September 5, 2018

A Neighborhood of Conversations


No matter how you share your news online - Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat - you keep checking for a response, right? University Circle understands that feedback loop. Dialogue goes back and forth - otherwise it's a rant or lecture. In fact, this unique arts, education and healthcare neighborhood has built its reputation on interesting conversations.

A Buzz-Worthy Start

Image © Aerial Agents

In 1799, Nathanial Doan didn't build a cabin. He built a log hotel and tavern on Euclid Avenue at the corners of 105th and 107th streets. He was a businessman who knew conversation would build community. By the 1870s, his cozy Doan's Corners had grown into a buzz-worthy entertainment and shopping district. 

That corner continued to grow in in the 1800s when Western Reserve University and the Case Institute of Technology acquired adjacent land.

Over the next two centuries, the schools merged to create today's prestigious Case Western Reserve University.

Creating A Circle of Trust

Image © Larry Highbaugh, Jr.

In the early 1900's, Cleveland's successful industrialists began contributing to a vision of planned growth for the forested hills of University Circle.  One of those industrialists, Jeptha Wade, who was a founding member of Western Union Telegraph, gifted 64 acres of his land for Cleveland's first zoo, lagoon and recreational area, aptly named Wade Park. 

He also set aside land for an art museum, which was established in 1913 "for the benefit of all forever." The state-of-the-art concert space, Severance Hall, opened in 1931, becoming the home of the world-class Cleveland Orchestra.  

By 1950, 34 cultural, educational and health care institutions joined University Circle to connect and engage with Cleveland residents. That's a lot of talk time.

But the neighborhoods around University Circle had a different response. Many residents pointed out how their own needs were being ignored during the region's time of growth and prosperity. It was the 1960's. Social justice dialogues were converging in cities across the nation - and it was no different here in Cleveland.

So, University Circle focused on building relationships with its surrounding neighborhoods through housing, arts outreach and better access to creating a "neighborhood without borders."

Today: University Circle

Image © Larry Highbaugh, Jr.

Today, University Circle is widely recognized as the most concentrated square mile of arts and culture in the nation. Superlatives aside, there's a lot to see and do within walking distance.

Create your own art through technology in the Cleveland Museum of Art's Gallery One - or just take in a few Monet's, Dali's and Picasso's (free of charge).  At the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, look closely at our actual moon and planets through the Mueller Observatory's telescope, built in 1899.

A stroll into museums and galleries, performances spaces, parks and gardens wake all your senses. You can walk from the Madagascar desert to the Costa Rican rainforest at the glasshouses inside the Cleveland Botanical Garden.  

Learn a little history about the region at the Cleveland History Center with un-average artifacts like the world's first DeLorean, Lebron James' size 16 championship-winning kicks and a 1910 grand carousel.

Outdoor events like Parade the Circle, Summer Solstice, Wade Oval Wednesdays and ice skating at the Rink at Wade Oval add excitement throughout the year.


Image © Cody York

Uptown Cleveland is the newest addition to the historic area, showcasing itself as a residential, shopping, dining, arts and entertainment district in the heart of University Circle.

It's also home to engagement experts Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland and the Cleveland Institute of Art.  The area's sleek building designs provide an energizing backdrop for shopping, dining and art explorations. 

Little Italy

Image © Cody York

That aroma of garlic and tomatoes is wafting down the hill from Little Italy on Mayfield Road. This beloved culinary and arts neighborhood is known for art walks, festivals, shopping and meals al fresco. Little Italy is happiest when life's volume is turned up - that means opera, accordions and good conversation.

Italian artisans settled in Little Italy in the late 19th century, while restaurateurs built its reputation. In fact, it was Guarino's that was the first established restaurant in Cleveland.

Other firsts include the world's first pasta machine, which was invented in Little Italy by an Italian immigrant. And, of course, the original Chef Boyaredee (Ettore Boiardi) got his start in this community, too.

Italian architecture with its ornate balconies above the restaurants and art galleries exude the feel of an Italian village. So do its residents.

The owner at La Dolce Vita will sit down at your table with a tray of aperitifs and a long story for your guests. The staff behind the cannoli cases at Presti's call out numbers, so grab one when you're in line. There's also a slice of cassata cake at Corbo's Bakery with your name on it. And, you might just meet the family that's been running Mama Santa's since 1961.

Wander along Murray Hill Road to explore a school converted into art studios and a church converted into a floral shop. The booming bells of Holy Rosary Church might convert you, too - or at least will let you know that dinner's ready.

Welcome to University Circle

Image © Cody York

Art has a way of getting people to talk, think and respond. It may be the world's oldest social media. So, wherever its conversations take you, University Circle and its neighboring communities promise to engage you with the most delicious food for thought.

Check out an interactive map of University Circle here. Need nearby hotels? Scope a few here.

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