Watermark is a large-scale temporary landscape treatment for a series of vacant city land bank lots that combines environmental art, community engagement, and green design practices.

During Cleveland’s peak period of growth (1890-1950), development occurred with little regard for underlying natural systems. As a result, streams that used to run through the city feed into the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie were buried to make way for factories, housing, and other development demands of a young and growing city. There are few remaining traces of Cleveland’s natural waterways in city neighborhoods. But a growing inventory of vacant land, much of which is held in a city land bank, offers an opportunity to restore the presence of water in the city.

The project marks the path of Giddings Brook, a buried stream in the Hough neighborhood, through a series of plantings and installations. The project also engages nearby residents through a series of programs and events that connect to water issues in the neighborhood. The intent is to visually reconnect Clevelanders with Giddings Brook, one of the city’s long-vanished waterways, and remind the residents of our identity and responsibilities as citizens of the Great Lakes.

The project is led by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress with the support of the City of Cleveland Land Bank, the City of Cleveland and in collaboration with the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and environmental artist Mimi Kato.