Rails to Trails Conservancy Case Study: Art and Urban Pathways
Morgana Run Trail, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland's Morgana Run Trail is a two-mile rail-trail through one of the city's most historical neighborhoods, Slavic Village. The old railroad ran through the heart of the community, and when it ceased operation the corridor quickly became overgrown, neglected and a haven for undesired graffiti. In the past few years, community groups created a vision for a more friendly and welcoming trail corridor and transformed the previously dilapidated area into one of the community's greatest assets.
As soon as the trail was constructed, many of the adjacent large buildings became highly visible and were covered with illegal graffiti. In 2007, a local community development organization, Slavic Village Development (SVD), partnered with Cleveland Public Art and ParkWorks to commission two local artists to develop a public art master plan for the Morgana Run Trail. The plan identified numerous goals for art along the trail, including raising awareness of the trail, improving access to the pathway and assuring positive experiences for trail users.
The first part of this vision, Pixelating Morgana, began as a collaboration among artists Christopher Diehl, Shaun Breslin and John Troxel. Using the side of the Lextech building, a local manufacturer that was an enthusiastic supporter, the artists designed a stunning 300-foot-by-20-foot mural. This mural, the largest in the city of Cleveland, was a community effort, and the artists welcomed visitors to the site as they were painting. The abstract piece now adorns the wall of the building along the most visible part of the trail. Just a few blocks past Pixelating is another impressive mural. The 250- foot-long work depicts Clevelanders enjoying themselves in all manner of active recreation, from biking to swimming.
In the summer of 2010, with support from SVD, Cleveland Public Art and ParkWorks artist Jake Beckham designed Rotoflora, a 35-foot-tall sculpture that sits at the 49th Street trailhead. The piece is designed to look like an allium flower and was fabricated by Signature Sign Company, a local manufacturer.
The growing collection of public art along the Morgana Run Trail is a testament to the power of public art as an element of community revitalization. By developing lasting partnerships and engaging community residents, SVD created an effective public art master plan that will continue to proliferate, drawing more community residents and visitors to the trail.