Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens: A landscape of diversity, the later years

This is the third in a series of four articles about Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens, based on the book by John Grabowski and Lauren Pacini, “Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens: A Landscape of Diversity.”

The Later Years: 2005-2020
Twenty years after the creation of the Chinese Garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, the Indian Garden was dedicated in 2005. Cleveland historian John Grabowski says the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, known as the Hart-Celler Act, essentially ended discrimination against southern and eastern Europeans and Asians. Patterns of immigration widened and shifted well beyond Europe.

By 1990, there were 5,780 Indian residents in Northeast Ohio. Many came to continue their education, while others were attracted by opportunities in medicine and technology. Discussions regarding the creation of an Indian Cultural Garden began as early as 1979, but it was not until 2005 that the new garden was dedicated.

This 17-foot-tall bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian Garden was dedicated on October 1, 2006.It would catalyze a major revival of the Gardens, one that has made them more inclusive than ever before. Following the dedication of the Indian Garden, 12 more cultural gardens have been dedicated, five of which represent cultures outside of Europe. Grabowski notes these new gardens transcend the older “Ellis Island” focus of the chain.

Some of the newer gardens, such as the Turkish Garden, dedicated in 2016, bridge Europe and Asia. But this is not the only shift reflected in the Gardens. Others relate to political changes in the world.

For instance, the Serbian Garden and the Croatian Garden were dedicated in 2008 and 2012. While they were new gardens, they represented ethnicities that had been part of the former Yugoslavia, and therefore were previously included in the Yugoslav Garden in the1990s.

With end of the Cold War, the Serbs and Croats each left the South Slav Union to form their own nations. Subsequently, the three gardens were rededicated as the Slovenian Garden in 1991.

The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1991 returned independence to Latvia, Azerbaijan, and Albania. In 2008, the Latvian and Azerbaijan gardens were dedicated, followed four years later by the Albanian Garden in joining, the Lithuanian and Ukrainian Gardens that pre-dated World War II, and the Estonian Garden established in 1966. Like Turkey, Azerbaijan is a transcontinental nation, straddling Europe to the west, and Asia to the east. The third transcontinental culture was added in 2018 with the dedication of the Russian Garden.

The first two installments of this series can be found here:
Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens: A landscape of diversity, the early years
Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens: A landscape of diversity, the middle years


Coming next week: The future of the Cultural Gardens.

Published by Kent State University Press, “Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens: A Landscape of Diversity,” which combines words and images, will be available at the 76th annual One World Day at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens on Sunday, Aug. 28.

For additional details on the book, click here
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Read more articles by Lauren R. Pacini.

Lauren R. Pacini is an architectural photographer and local history author. He began photographing the Cultural Gardens in 2008, and in 2019 he partnered with Cleveland historian John J. Grabowski, the Krieger-Mueller joint professor in history at Case Western University and historian and senior vice president at the Western Reserve Historical Society. Together they created Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens: A Landscape of Diversity, the first book on the topic since Clara Lederer’s book, "Their Paths Are Peace," launched in 1954.