Skip to content
CityLab
Transportation

How Cleveland’s ‘Guardians of Traffic’ Made the Big Leagues

The Major League Baseball team looked to local infrastructure for inspiration, taking its new name from the sculptures on a nearby bridge. Here’s why. 

The Guardians of Traffic sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field inspired the renaming of the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians at the end of the 2021 season. 

The Guardians of Traffic sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field inspired the renaming of the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians at the end of the 2021 season. 

Photographer: Jason Miller/Getty Images North America

On Friday, when the Cleveland Indians announced that the baseball team would be adopting a new name, the Cleveland Guardians, for the 2022 season, expatriate Clevelander Jim Wren was immediately on board.

Back in 2018, Wren got a tattoo of one the sculptures known as the Guardians of Traffic — massive Art Deco figures that adorn the Ohio city’s Hope Memorial Bridge and have kept their watchful eyes over Cleveland commuters since 1932. “As a child I was always thrilled to see those figures,” says Wren, a theater professor who now lives in North Carolina. “I think it’s the perfect name — the one I was hoping for all along. It’s uniquely Cleveland.”