Guardians of Traffic: Cleveland’s Kingly Roadside Attraction
Tolkien’s Middle Earth isn’t the only place with some epic historic statues worth seeing. If you’re planning a road trip to Cleveland, Ohio, make sure to check out the Guardians of Traffic. Similar to The Argonath watching over River Anduin, the majestic Guardians of Traffic sculptures have been watching the flow of Cleveland traffic for almost a century.
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The history of the guardians
Part of the Hope Memorial Bridge, the Guardians of Traffic has been a central part of Cleveland architecture since 1932, when the bridge opened for use. The bridge has connected Lorain Avenue and Carnegie Avenue, two major routes for Cleveland drivers, for decades now.
Architect Frank Walker and sculptor Henry Hering get the credit for constructing the icon, as Bloomberg’s Elizabeth Yuko confirms. The statue is actually comprised of four sandstone pylons that have two sculptures on each side for a total of eight figures.
Each figure stands 43 feet tall, giving the guardians an otherworldly feel. They also have a hybrid classical and Art Deco style, which contributes to the grandiose aesthetic of the statue.
The winged helmets of the guardians take a cue from the Greek god Hermes, as Cleveland Magazine’s Erick Trickey highlights. Considering that Hermes was the god of commerce and land travel, it’s a fitting symbol for the city that had such a strong industrial and transportation influence in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The Guardians of Traffic also embody Cleveland’s transportation history. Each figure holds a different vehicle, from a hay wagon to an electric-powered delivery truck, as Yuko notes.
The statue today
Today, the Guardians of Traffic continues to enjoy a deserving place on the National Register of Historic Places. Though Cleveland’s industrial golden age is in the past, the statue immortalizes the city’s involvement in the iron and coal industries and its reputation as a major transportation hub in the first part of the 20th century. It’s also worth mentioning that the statue helped inspire the Cleveland Indians’ new (and more culturally sensitive) name, the Cleveland Guardians.
Check out these other fascinating roadside attractions in the Buckeye State as you plan your Ohio road trip itinerary. Then find out which North American bridges are the longest.
Whitney Russell resides in Dayton, though her spirit can be found beach-bumming in Puerto Rico (the land of her half-Puerto Rican heritage). When not crafting car-related content, she can be found chasing after the most amazing toddler in the world, watching her “beaver” of a husband build amazing woodworking projects, hanging out with two crazy dogs, and visiting family and friends. She also enjoys traveling, crafting, and binge-watching period dramas when time allows. See more articles by Whitney.