Opinion: Cleveland is no ‘mistake on the lake’ anymore

Melissa Schwachenwald

Melissa Schwachenwald

Melissa Schwachenwald is a senior fine arts major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Cities have always been an important aspect of my life.

Growing up in Arizona, my family and I lived 10 minutes outside of downtown Phoenix.

Early memories consist of skyscrapers, palm trees and mountains surrounding a busy, yet easygoing city.

I grew attached to a lively and energetic atmosphere; the buildings seemed to conquer the city, yet appeared miniature when compared to the gigantic mountains containing the valley.

I was eight when my family and I moved 15 minutes outside of Cleveland. Occasionally, we would buy fresh produce at the West Side Market and drive along Lake Erie. The lake symbolized Cleveland for me as the mountains did for Phoenix.

Cleveland became my favorite escape in high school. My friends and I would skip class and head to the lake, sneak into The Great Lakes Science Center, annoy the cashier at the toy store Big Fun in Coventry and eat pasta in little Italy.

Exploring the streets, running through sprinklers near the courts, climbing bridges and getting lost in the Flats were highlights of the weekend.

The recession took a toll in my hometown; small businesses were rapidly closing. Cleveland still, however, fulfilled the excitement I longed for, despite the cliché of the city being the mistake on the lake.

I’ve always thought of Cleveland being underrated and easily overlooked by people that wouldn’t bother giving it a chance. Frequent trips back home still lead me to Tremont, Ohio City and Coventry.

Over the past three years, I’ve noticed a drastic change with storefronts, new and old building renovations and booming restaurants.

The entire city has been making a huge comeback. The Cleveland Clinic is world-renowned, there is a new aquarium in the Flats and lofts are appearing from the west to east side.

A couple of my friends moved into the city. One chose a studio apartment in Ohio City for about $400 a month; another chose to live in a loft in Tremont for about $800 a month; the other is living off Detroit Avenue in a loft for the same price.

Gordon Square is an upcoming neighborhood by Lakewood, boasting a new bus line and attractive places to eat and drink along with a bike-friendly community.

These areas are grabbing the attention of many young adults, offering convenient bar crawls, a great art scene and affordable living.

The historic apartments and houses for rent give Cleveland more appealing charm. The city is also greatly supporting small business owners, hoping to create local pride and a close sense of community.

Last fall, Scene Magazine stated that 2011 was the year of Cleveland’s biggest comeback. Spending a weekend in Cleveland is enough to convince anyone that the phrase ‘mistake by the lake’ is a myth.