Shaker Square, Cleveland, Ohio
Though it forms the core of the most densely populated and heavily trafficked area of the city of Shaker Heights, Shaker Square actually sits upon land that is part of the City of Cleveland. Shaker Heights ceded that land to Cleveland, presumably for purposes of maintenance and coordination of public functions, in the 1920s.
Shaker Square is essentially a traffic roundabout, formed at the intersection of Shaker Boulevard — and the light-rail rapid transit line that runs along its tree-lined medianed spine — with North and South Moreland. However, that roundabout is actually octagonal, and is ringed by four large and stylistically similar brick-and-stone neo-Georgian retail buildings of several stories.
The geometry of the Square is further inflected by the splitting of the transit line just east of the Square into two separate lines, the Blue Line heading east along Shaker Boulevard through Shaker Heights, and the Green Line heading southeast along Van Aken Boulevard through Shaker Heights toward Warrensville Heights and Beachwood.
The retail structures ringing Shaker Square — designed by Charles B. Rowley and Phillip Small — house popular restaurants, shops, banks, a cinema, and upper floor office space, with generous sidewalk areas for browsing and dining. The Square’s retail structures were constructed by the Van Sweringen brothers in 1929, as part of their planned community of Shaker Heights. Bounded by the roundabout within the Square are two large lawn areas that serve as the site of farmers’ markets and special events.
At the western edge of the Square sits the Shaker Square transit station. This glass-encased station also incorporates a food and drink concessionaire, and is designed in a contemporary style that mimics and coordinates with the Georgian scale and detailing of the surrounding historic structures. As the Shaker Rapid provides quick and convenient access to downtown Cleveland and the many intervening businesses and institutions, this station is often one of the Regional Transit Authority’s busiest.
More than 4,000 dwelling units are situated within several blocks’ distance of Shaker Square. Embodied in grand old mansions, historic multi-story apartment buildings, contemporary condominiums and single-family homes, those residences house a sizable, diverse, active and thriving population that contributes greatly to Shaker Square’s vibrancy and appeal.