About 10 years ago, I left Cleveland, Ohio — where I grew up — because the economy was still slow and struggling for this mid-western post-industrial age city. For me, an architect by training, opportunities were very limited. Like most things, you don't realize “what you’ve got until it's gone.” Or in my case, until after I had left.
Immigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere came to cities like Cleveland in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th Century to work and make a better life. They recreated what they knew and in turn, altered and adapted their culture to the city of Cleveland. I really miss the various ethnic enclaves in different pockets of neighborhoods.
Every city has a Little Italy, but do they have a Slavic Village? Neighborhood places that readily serve fish and perogies on Fridays? They do in this city on Lake Erie.
I was back home recently during the July 4th holiday and was given a tour of a city I had forgotten about. The West Side Market is still there and improving. The joy of experiencing the WSM should never be taken for granted. I used to live a block away and treated the Market like it was my pantry. West 25th Street was struggling to become something. Now, it is a destination.
Almost across the street from the West Side Market is the renovated Market Square next to Great Lakes Brewery. I can get the GLBC beer in other cities now, but being back home and sitting in that bar eating perogies and drinking a beer is an experience of its own.
The city of Cleveland may have shed a few people over the years, but those people always seem to come back. I was amazed at the change of the Public Square and new Convention Center. I do have to admit that I have my own opinion of the casino inside of a historic old building. but everything else that was happening with it seems amazing.
There are some other things that I miss about my hometown such as easily being able to see a band play in a neighborhood bar. People are laid back, blue-collar folks. Some cities just don't get it, but Cleveland now has it.
The following is a baker’s dozen of things to experience if you make it to Cleveland: