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Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Plaza

Jesseowensproposal

University Circle Inc. is working with partners to celebrate the legacy of Jesse Owens in Rockefeller Park at the site of the Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Tree. Conceptual designs for the space include new pathways, seating, signage, and public art.

Background

The Jesse Owens Olympic Oak tree was planted on Arbor Day 2021 through a partnership between the City of Cleveland, Cleveland City Council, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Holden Forests & Gardens, Holden Parks Trust, Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, Famicos Foundation, and University Circle Inc.

The tree is genetically identical to one of the four trees awarded to Jesse Owens for his four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. It was propagated from the original Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Tree at Rhodes High School, which is the only confirmed location of one of these beautiful legacy trees.

Plans for the Plaza

UCI has engaged local firm DERU landscape architecture and local artist Angelica Pozo as the design team for plaza design.

The public art installations will include four memorial markers and a podium seat wall, that evokes the idea of a winner’s stand.

The memorial markers will be installed along an existing 200-meter loop around the tree and will honor the legacy of Jesse Owens, highlighting his life before the Olympics, Olympic history, and post-Olympic experience- acknowledging his accomplishments as well as his struggles against racism.

The podium seat wall will feature two quotes from Jesse Owens, reflecting on the importance of working hard toward your dreams and the invisible battles that we all face. The community will have the opportunity to share their dreams and invisible battles, and responses will be incorporated into the tile installation.

Support for this project has been generously provided by the Holden Parks Trust and CircleWalk.

Community Feedback

We want to hear from you! 

What are your dreams? What are your invisible battles? Local artist Angelica Pozo will take the community's responses to these questions and etch them onto mosaic tiles that will decorate the podium seat wall.

Community comments on the design of the Plaza itself are very welcome, and will be shared with the planning and design teams.

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