1. Irish Famine Memorial
A 12-foot Celtic cross stands in Heritage Park in the Flats, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Irish Famine that ravaged the Emerald Isle from 1845 to 1850. The Cleveland Famine Memorial Committee commissioned Eamon D'Arcy to carve the gray stone statue, erected in September 2000. On the back is a bronze sculpture by artist Paula Blackman depicting pregnant Irish mother Bridget O'Donnell and her two children who were evicted during the food shortage. "Many died, but many worked, becoming police officers and judges," says John O'Brien Jr., memorial committee member, "making Cleveland an incredible place to live."
2. Richard Wagner
Cleveland's Goethe-Schiller Society didn't stop after erecting the 1907 double statue of German literature giants Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Friedrich Schiller in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Four years later, it debuted a statue of German composer Richard Wagner, "the greatest of musical composers," as The Plain Dealer put it then. The stone statue of Wagner, dressed in a long coat and clutching a book, stands atop a bluff in Edgewater Park overlooking Lake Erie. In February 1924, his son, Siegfried, trekked through the park to visit the statue and snap his photo in front of it. Created by local sculptor Herman N. Matzen, it's near one of the park's western parking lots.
3. Lincoln Memorial
Though our 16th president visited Cleveland only once in his life — and once in death, to be fair — its residents memorialized him nearly 70 years after his assassination. A Max Kalish sculpture of Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address stands on Mall C, near the Board of Education building, facing the Peace Memorial Fountain. It took nine years to erect the completed work because of disagreements on who should sculpt the statue and where it would be placed (the intersection of Huron and Euclid avenues in Playhouse Square was once an option). It was unveiled on Feb. 12, 1932, on Lincoln's birthday.
4. Free Stamp
If you've puzzled over the giant steel and aluminum stamp next to City Hall, thank the Standard Oil Co. of Ohio. It commissioned the 28-foot-tall, 49-foot-wide statement piece in December 1982, with plans to place it facedown outside the company's skyscraper on Public Square. But when BP America bought Standard Oil, it rejected the Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen work, saying only that it was "inappropriate." (Let's be frank: In its proposed position, the piece looked a bit phallic.) Finally, the city agreed to put it in Willard Park next to City Hall. Because BP had "tossed" the work, the artists placed the stamp on its side, as if it had been thrown from its planned location.
5. Rodin's The Thinker
There are 25 casts of Auguste Rodin's famed sculpture The Thinker — and one has been pondering who-knows-what in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art since 1917. Fewer than 10 of those 6-foot-tall Thinkers were cast during Rodin's lifetime, and ours was one of them. But a bomb with the power of about three sticks of dynamite irreparably shredded The Thinker's base and lower legs in 1970. No one was held responsible for the blast, though many believe it was the work of a radical group against the Vietnam War. Conservationists rejected the idea of recasting the Rodin work, opting to keep it in its damaged condition as a reminder of an era of political unrest.