Clio Logo

Wade Park is known today as Wade Oval and is located in present-day University Circle. It is a public park and a center for cultural institutions in Cleveland Ohio. Notable institutions in the area include the Cleveland Natural History Museum, Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Wade Park is also the former home of the current day Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which is now located in Brookside Park.


  • Early Zoo Location at Wade Park (ca. 1890)
  • Wade Park Center and Fountain (1894)

Jeptha Wade was a Cleveland based industrialist and philanthropist who made his fortune from the Western Union Telegraph. He owned farmland and woodlands in the area of what is present-day University Circle. In 1872, he began to develop his land into a public park, and in 1882, he donated over 60 acres to the city of Cleveland. Eventually, the city purchased more land from Wade, and the area became known as Wade Park.

The land Wade donated quickly developed into a major recreational area with picnic space, ball fields and tennis courts. Over the years, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cleveland Natural History Museum, and other cultural institutions have also found their home in Wade Park.

One of the original attractions to Wade Park was Cleveland’s first zoo. In 1882, the first exhibit was a herd of deer. The zoo grew over time, starting first with exhibits of more local animals and then expanding into the more exotic with lions, bears, and sea lions. By 1907, City Council decided to move the zoo to its current location in Brookside Park. Today the zoo is known as the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. 

Wade Park, Case Western Reserve University Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Accessed March 20 2020. case.edu/ech/articles/w/wade-park.

Alleman, Lisa. Wade Park Zoo, Cleveland Historical. January 9th 2012. Accessed March 20 2020. clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/387.

Historical Resources, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Accessed March 20 2020. resourcelibrary.clemetzoo.com/historical.

Zoo History, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Accessed March 20 2020. clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo/learn/zoo-history.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Cleveland Museum of Art via Cleveland Metroparks Zoo https://resourcelibrary.clemetzoo.com/Historical/3

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo https://resourcelibrary.clemetzoo.com/Photo/1136