This promenade was a key element of the 1903 Beaux Arts Group Plan for Cleveland developed by Daniel Burnham, Arnold Brunner, and John Carrère, and realized with the assistance of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and Frank Mead. Inspired by the McMillan Plan for Washington, D.C., also led by Burnham, the 1903 plan called for a tripartite mall lined by rows of topiary that opened towards a fountain fronting the Union Railroad Terminal, later built adjacent to the nearby Cleveland Public Square. A bronze war memorial fountain, called the Fountain of Eternal Life, by sculptor Marshall Fredericks was added to the mall’s southernmost length, known as the Veterans Memorial Plaza, in 1964. The northern and central segments were excavated that year to allow for the construction of the underground Cleveland Convention Center, during which time it was redesigned by the landscape architecture firm Clarke & Rapuano. A linear pool, edged by trees and triangular lawn panels, known as the Hannah Fountain, was constructed as a rooftop feature. Following the fountain’s demolition in 1995, the convention center was rebuilt as the Huntington Convention Center in 2013 by LMN Architects, and portions of the mall were redesigned by landscape architects Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). The latter design sought to reintroduce the unified proportions of the Group Plan.
Divided by roadways and framed by civic Neoclassical buildings, the mall widens incrementally as it moves northwest. A plaza, accessed by paths that radiate out from Fredericks’ memorial fountain, comprises the mall’s southernmost segment. A long central green, built on top of the convention center, gradually inclines before ending one story above the building’s entrance. Edged by diverse border plantings and mirror-covered ventilation shafts, the elevated lawn overlooks a wider green culminating in expansive views of Lake Erie. A sculpture titled Flame Cauldron ,by Ron Payto, is situated in the centermost segment. The Cleveland Mall was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.