Why I love Cleveland

Sarah James

My hometown has been all over the news lately. The remains of 11 women were found in the East Cleveland home of Anthony Sowell, and his face has been plastered across the papers ever since.

At times like these, it is tough to remind myself why I love Cleveland so much. People who aren’t from the area see my city as an industrial graveyard, a mistake by the lake. They look at its abandoned buildings and crumbing streets and look past Cleveland’s continually evolving creative culture.

A few summers ago, I interned with Steven Tatar of the Ohio Knitting Mills. Although a lot of my time was spent fiddling with vintage knitwear, a lot more was spent exploring the city, learning about its history and downtrodden charm. I was introduced to places I never thought existed, places I never thought to check out.

That summer, I began seeing Cleveland in two very different lights. I saw Cleveland as a former industrial hub and a place with an enormous amount of potential.

Clearly, I am not the only one who has noticed. Positively Cleveland is a non-profit organization based out of Public Square that is committed to bringing business and tourism to Cleveland.

When people tell me that there is nothing to do in Cleveland, I am mystified. University Circle is only about a mile long and contains The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Cleveland Botanical Garden and Severance Hall. I am told there are ballfields near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but I have never investigated this matter.

Cleveland is home to the West Side Market, one of the largest open-air markets in the country. I firmly believe you have not lived until you tasted its falafel. When I am home, one of my favorite things to do is people-watch from its balcony.

Long before I drove, I relied on Cleveland’s award-winning public transportation system to get around. For the most part, Clevelanders are a friendly bunch. I cannot remember the last time I sat at a train stop in silence. I was never on time, but I did receive the most biting bits of Midwestern musings I ever could have hoped for.

I have lived most of my 20 years on the east side of Cleveland, and therefore I have license to both praise it and put it down. An out-of-towner once had the audacity to tell me she loved Cleveland because it was both “beautiful and perishable.” I considered pushing her out of my car right there on East 105th Street to show her what exactly would perish – her or the city.

I laughed along with last year’s “Hastily Made Tourism Videos,” and yet part of me felt like I was betraying the city that gave me my cynically optimistic worldview.

So what if our river has caught fire and it snows seven months of the year? Until you have seen people surf Lake Erie at Edgewater Park on a 50-degree summer day or traveled the red line in the snow, you won’t understand.

In Cleveland, it is common to say that although New York City is the Big Apple, Cleveland is a plum. Once you bite through its rubbery skin, the inside is tart and sweet. Once you look past it’s rough exterior, Cleveland is a really loveable place to live.

Sarah James is a junior public relations major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].