The former Cleveland Indians organization has a new name: the Cleveland Guardians. The team announced the name change via a Tom Hanks-narrated video published to its social channels, alongside a few sleek new logos. But that name change isn’t just significant for the baseball world, as the term “Guardians” pays homage to the most famous transportation landmarks in the city.
The “Guardians Of Traffic” – or Lords of Traffic, or Guardians of Transportation – are eight Art Deco statues that stand on four pylons on either side of Cleveland’s Hope Memorial Bridge. The bridge sits just south of the Cleveland baseball team’s Progressive Field, connecting the eastern and western parts of the city, and it’s been a landmark since its completion in 1932.
“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge,” said team owner Paul Dolan in a statement. “It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family.”
Designed by sculptor Henry Hering and architect Frank Walker, the four 43-foot tall pylons were installed on the bridge upon its completion nearly 90 years ago. And interestingly enough, they remain the only public monuments in the city in the iconic Art Deco style.
Each of the eight Guardians statues wears a winged laurel crown and holds in its hands some form of ground transportation, ranging from hay wagons and concrete trucks to passenger cars and covered wagons. Initially, the design called for planes and boats, as well, but that was eventually scrapped in place of cars and road-going passenger vehicles exclusively.
For Cleveland baseball, this is the fourth name change in the team’s 120-year professional history – the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021). But this is undoubtedly the most significant switch thus far, and one that will likely stick around.