City of Cleveland’s Own History Helps To Forge a New Future
Hidden Gems Can Be Found in a Blue-Collar Town That Continues to Reinvent Itself
Many people who visit Cleveland may likely check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, head down to the Flats before taking in a concert or a show downtown, or come in full sports-fanatic mode to cheer on the Cavs, the Indians … or even the Browns. Some visitors to the city simply may have an appointment at Cleveland Clinic, and a good number of those visitors may know that’s a good enough reason to stop by The Melt for a bite to eat before coming home.
The City of Cleveland is brimming with character that’s much deeper than what’s on the surface when you look past the obvious, and the resilient people who call Cleveland home have a lot to do with it. If somehow being from the Rust Belt evokes a sense of pride among people from the Ohio Valley, then it’s safe to say Clevelanders embrace that same inherent quality on a metropolitan level.
Cleveland is a blue-collar city that was built on its own history and continues to be driven by tradition. The glory of its industrial past and the eventual decline of the industrial era are both important elements that help define the city’s character. Likewise, the great moments in Cleveland’s rich sports history are contrasted by its long, agonizing periods of frustrating struggles for legions of dedicated fans ( … yes, particularly Browns fans …)
Who knew back in 1969 when the Cuyahoga River actually caught fire from industrial pollution that the horrific event would help spark the environmental movement in America? (And also would become the namesake of a popular craft beer by the Great Lakes Brewing Company –Burning River Pale Ale!)
Even the city’s toughest of times are peppered with genuine reasons to hope for a better future — and that is Cleveland to the core.
Today, everywhere from downtown to the outskirts of town, you can find highlights of the city’s past being boasted while some pieces of the past are being re-imagined and repurposed for the 21st century.
“We’re really just starting to see more new construction because there were so many existing buildings to kind of fill in,” Nick Urig, communications manager at Destination Cleveland, said. “It’s interesting. From a lot of old warehouses downtown to storefronts in neighborhoods to buildings in the Flats — there’s been a lot of effort put into reinvention.
“So many of the breweries are using the old buildings. Then there are businesses like Mitchell’s Ice Cream — they opened a location in an old theater that’s been totally renovated, now their headquarters is in there where they make the ice cream right in front of you.”
Visitors to Cleveland may find many of the city’s hidden treasures when they venture off the well-beaten tourist paths and poke around the parts of the city where Clevelanders are taking a progressive approach to ushering in a renaissance that’s turning the page on the blue-collar, Rust Belt period.
“That’s where the neighborhoods really come into play,” Urig said. “So many first-time visitors spend time downtown or go to University Circle where the museums are, but in terms of the hidden gems, a lot of them can be found in the neighborhoods.”
Just outside of the downtown area, there are neighborhoods such as the Detroit-Shoreway to the west before the town of Lakewood along the shores of Lake Erie, boasting the Gordon Square art district. Between the Detroit-Shoreway and the downtown area is Ohio City, one of the oldest yet one of the fastest-growing areas brimming with trendy businesses in a culturally rich community. The centerpiece of Ohio City is West Side Market (built in 1912), one of the largest indoor/outdoor markets in the country with more than 100 booths offering fresh selections of meats, fruits and vegetables, baked goods and more.
To the south is the Tremont neighborhood, just west of the still-active steel yards. A hot tourist destination is A Christmas Story House, the home in which many scenes from the 1983 holiday classic movie “A Christmas Story” were filmed. The 1940s look to the neighborhood is what drew the film’s creators to the site, and that throw-back setting still exists, but it has been transformed into a trendy hotspot that’s become known as one of Cleveland’s great areas for entertainment, with edgy coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants.
For more information about sites to visit and things to do in Cleveland, visit thisiscleveland.com.