Superman statue, creators’ tribute plaza near to landing in Downtown Cleveland

Cleveland native Superman will gain a permanent home in Downtown Cleveland at a newly landscaped plaza at the corner of Ontario Street and St. Clair Avenue, outside the expanded Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. The statue’s plaza will honor Superman’s Cleveland creators with statues of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and Lois Lane model Joanne Siegel (PMC-Moody Nolan). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Statue, plaza to honor Clevelanders Siegel, Shuster


There’s lots of stoic statues around downtown honoring Clevelanders and others who helped make the city and the United States great during their lives. But there could soon be a new statue and plaza downtown for a man who never lived at all except in comic books, on television and in movies. The statue of Superman is as much about honoring two men who did live — native Clevelanders Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who created one of America’s first and most beloved superheroes.

Plans for a Superman statue and plaza in Downtown Cleveland are going before the City Planning Commission starting this week. The plaza is to be located at the northeast corner of Ontario Street and St. Clair Avenue. That’s next to the newly expanded Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland.

The plaza is proposed to be named the Siegel and Shuster Tribute Plaza. Funding was already in place to create a plaza here as part of the $49 million repurposing of the ill-fated Global Center for Health Innovation into an expansion of the busy but undersized convention center. Instead that plaza will be redesigned with a Superman theme.

Cost of the changes to the Cuyahoga County-owned plaza from what was previously approved by the city are estimated at $167,788, according to plans submitted last week to the Cleveland Building Department. Submitting the plans for a building permit was Nicholas Slaughterbeck, project manager and architect at Moody Nolan.

Redesign of the planned plaza at the expanded convention center adds a diagonal feature across the already designed walkway shown here. On that added feature will be a statue of Superman, seemingly flying toward Ontario Street at left. Behind them are statues of Superman’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster plus Joanne Siegel, model for Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane. At right is a phone booth in which Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent turns into Superman (PMC-Moody Nolan).

Preliminary designs show a statue of a flying Superman, placed atop a 20-foot-tall pedestal and heading in a direction which he’s seemingly bound to leap over Cleveland’s tallest buildings. Behind Superman are statues of three people — writer Siegel, artist Shuster, and original Lois Lane model Joanne Siegel, wife of Jerry Siegel — gazing at their creation taking flight.

“This plaza will feature two crossing paths — one of concrete and one a field of pavers. The field of pavers will host the statues in a story-driven sequence,” Slaughterbeck wrote in his application to the city. “The statues will be illuminated by in-ground directional lighting and the plaza will be lighted by four new light posts. The subdivided plaza will be planted with new shrubbery and planting as well as grass beds for photo opportunities.”

Slaughterbeck said construction would start by installing the two crossing paths, then adding site lighting, and finally the statue foundations. Once the statues have been completed, the pavers above the foundations will be removed, statues installed, and pavers reinstalled again.

Last weekend at the Fan Expo Cleveland, members of the nonprofit organization Siegel & Shuster Society announced that they’ve made progress in getting the statues approved. The announcement was made during a panel discussion that included Gary S. Kaplan, a cousin to Jerry Siegel, Leigh Goldie, a cousin to Joe Shuster, Pernel Jones, Jr., president of Cuyahoga County Council, and society founding members Mike Sangiacomo, Jamie Reigle and Brad Ricca.

Samples of what the statues of Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel plus wife/Lois Lane model Joanne Siegel could look like (

“We have the support of the Cuyahoga County Council, the Convention Center board and DC Comics/Warner Brothers,” the Siegel & Shuster Society stated in a post on their Facebook page. “We still have a few more steps to take before 100 percent approval, but we are getting very close.”

The Superman statues and the Siegel and Shuster Tribute Plaza were previously destined for a location near the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on Downtown Cleveland’s lakefront. Although receiving planning commission approval in 2015, that project would have cost $3 million to do on its own. Now, with the plaza already planned as part of the convention center expansion, cost sharing can be achieved.

This won’t be the only site in Cleveland where Superman’s creation is commemorated. In Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood. five miles east of downtown where Siegel and Shuster lived in the 1930s, a historical marker was erected. Signs outside of the renovated Siegel house on Kimberly Avenue were placed, identifying it.

And, nine blocks south of Siegel’s home, a tribute fence was built surrounding the former site of Shuster’s home, since demolished, at Amor Avenue and Parkwood Drive. There is also a permanent Superman exhibit at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The Siegel and Shuster Tribute Plaza along with the Superman statue will be located at the northeast corner of Ontario Street, left, and St. Clair Avenue. Behind is the former Global Center for Health Innovation which is being converted into facilities for an expanded Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland (PMC-Moody Nolan).

Siegel (1914-1996) and Shuster (1914-1992) created Superman in the depths of the Great Depression in 1933 while living in the homes of their Jewish immigrant parents. Siegel came up with the story idea of Superman and Shuster sketched the characters. Together, they created their own Superman comic books in Siegel’s home.

“Lois Lane’s character was influenced by several women — finally, model Joanne Carter inspired both Lois Lane’s physical appearance and her personality,” according to the Cleveland Public Library. “As a teenager, Carter connected with Joe Shuster after she placed a model-for-hire ad in the classified section of the Plain Dealer. She went on to become a major inspiration for Lois Lane — as well as Jerry Siegel’s eventual wife.”

Siegel and Shuster struggled to promote Superman before selling the rights to DC Comics in 1938 for $130, or $2,860 today. Since then, Superman has become a pop culture phenomenon and gained worldwide recognition.


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