Cleveland's Euclid Corridor HealthLine provides an example of a successful public art and transit partnership. The transit project is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system connecting Cleveland’s two largest employment districts - Downtown Central Business and University Circle.
Ideas for the $1.2 million public art initiative first developed when the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) hired Cleveland Public Art (CPA), a local non-profit to assist with developing a Public Art Master Plan for the project. Along with the GCRTA’s Arts in Transit Committee, CPA, held numerous community meetings throughout seven districts along the corridor to collectively gather information from constituents about what public art opportunities could be captured in their respective communities. The results included a plan to hire five local and national firms to incorporate iconic language and artwork that represented Cleveland’s rich history to parallel the new transit system.
Key to the success of bringing public art to the HealthLine was involving the artists in the early planning stages of the project to work with the hired firms. The partnership allowed GCRTA to look at options to leverage the public art funds by creating integrated art pieces throughout the corridor with standard items including tree grates, trash containers, curb covers, pedestrian crosswalks, and informational signage.
In addition, functional seating, granite hands, and interactive kiosks were included in the landscape to represent an iconic language of Cleveland’s past and future. For example, granite hands in the sidewalk represented a sign language that the Native Americans used to conduct commerce while the functional seating spelled out “Things Change” in one direction but can be read as “Change Things” when facing in the opposite direction (see photo of "Things Change," by Nancy Dwyer, on left). The steel trash containers have etched holes of ‘garbage computer fonts’ to represent transit technology and the curb covers and manholes shows historical information about Cleveland’s textile and industrial industries and renowned medical research.
To further its art initiative, the GCRTA added three independent art installations throughout the corridor which included five (5) steel lighting sculptures called “Chorus Line Luminaries” that are located in the Playhouse District area. Over fifty lighting shows have been programmed to illustrate a vertical lighting scheme that emulates a kicking motion. The second called "Osmosis" is a sandstone landscape shaped into a serpentine art form that emerges from the earth. They are located in two roadway medians in the University Circle area. The third is located at the end of the HealthLine system called "Poetry Walking Sculptures." Three art pieces are motion sensor to recite poetry as you approach the sculptures.
Below you can see many of the different ideas, big and small, incorporated into the HealthLine corridor.
"Poetry Walk Sculptures" by NY Public Arts, Inc. (Nina Yankowitz/Barry Holden), New York, NY.
A decorated trash receptacle is one method utilized to improve aesthetics along the HealthLine for riders and the general public. (Credit: Mark E. Howard)
*Special thanks to Danielle Willis, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, for assistance with this profile.