Tag Archive: Things to see and do in Cleveland


Cleveland’s Public Square

Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio is the home of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the AFC’s Cleveland Browns.

It was also, in the ’70’s and 80’s, arguably the Rust Belt’s poster child.

A century ago, though, this home of the Federal Reserve’s Fourth District was the nation’s fifth largest city,  and for nearly half a century one of its industrial and political powerhouses.

Terminal Tower & Old Stone Church, Public Square, Cleveland

Terminal Tower & Old Stone Church, Public Square, Cleveland

It was here that John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and both he and U.S. President James Garfield, assassinated in 1881, are buried in its Lakeview Cemetery.

Cleveland’s Mark Hanna played Presidential kingmaker before the turn of 20th century, and Democratic Party national  conventions were held here in 1924 and 1936.

Cleveland’s  rich legacy is still very palpable in its historic architecture and the relics of its twentieth century melting pot neighborhoods.

 

Those who wonder why Cleveland is home to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame may not know that the very first rock ‘n’ roll concert was held in the Cleveland Arena in 1952, promoted by radio disc jockey Alan “Moondog” Freed.

The fire department closed the concert down when attendance far exceeded the Arena’s 20,000-seat capacity.

In the late 1960’s, Cleveland radio station WMMS-FM was a pioneer broadcaster of the ‘progressive rock’ radio format.

 

 

The current Cleveland Browns stadium was built in 1996 on the site of an earlier stadium dedicated in 1931, and where the first event held was the Schmeling-Stribling world heavyweight title fight.

Browns Stadium, Cleveland

Browns Stadium, Cleveland

The original structure was one of the first multi-purpose stadiums in the country, and until 1994 also the home field of the Cleveland Indians, who played games from their pennant-winning 1920 and 1948 World Series there.

Terminal Tower, Public Square, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Public Square, Cleveland

The Browns began play in 1946, the year after the Cleveland Rams won the NFL title and moved to Los Angeles.

The new team won its first NFL championship in 1949, and would win it three more times within the next 15 years.

Cleveland has the distinction of being the only city to retain the name and archives of an NFL franchise when its team moved to Baltimore in 1996.

A revived Cleveland Browns franchise resumed play three years later.

 

Cleveland was first settled just before the turn of the nineteenth century by families arrived from New England, who brought with them the idea of a  ‘town commons’ and accordingly laid their city out around a Public Square.

 

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

In 1930,  a new rail terminal was constructed on its southwest corner, topped by a fifty-two story structure that came to be known as the Terminal Tower.  It was, at the time, the tallest building west of the Hudson River and the biggest dig since construction of the Panama Canal.

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

 

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

While rail traffic has significantly diminished in the eighty years since its construction, the Tower lives on as the hub of the city’s light rail system, and as a vibrant retail and entertainment venue.  Much of the original architecture has been lovingly restored and maintained.

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Terminal Tower, Cleveland

Old Stone Church, Public Square, Cleveland

Old Stone Church, Public Square, Cleveland

 

The Old Stone Church, a longtime downtown Cleveland landmark, sits opposite the Tower on Public Square.

Its congregation dates back to 1820, and the current structure, dedicated in 1858, is the third church on the site.

Historical marker, Public Square, Cleveland

Historical marker, Public Square, Cleveland

Built in the Victorian Romanesque style, its interior is notable for its wood paneling, ornate carvings, stained glass, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling of trussed wood.  The church is the oldest surviving building on the Square.

Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument, Public Square, Cleveland, OH

Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument, Public Square, Cleveland, OH

 

Just across the Square, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, located within the Square commemorates the Civil War.

 

Along the monument’s esplanade, bronze groupings depict battle scenes for the  Navy, Artillery, Infantry and Cavalry.  The thirty actions in which soldiers from Cuyahoga County fought are listed on bronze bands.  Perched atop its 125-foot stone is the statue ‘Goddess of Freedom’.

 

Bronze relief sculptures here are among the first to honor the war role of women nurses, and to show a free black man in a combat role.  Before the Emancipation, Cleveland was a center for Abolitionists and served as fugitive slaves’ last stop on the ‘underground railway’ before Canada.

 

My walk on this morning has covered only a few blocks of Cleveland’s vintage downtown, but more architectural treats lie just beyond the Square.  Come along when I next post!

 

Author’s notes:

  • Both Cleveland and its Public Square, along with Cleveland’s Little Italy, figure prominently in my recently published novel Lifelines: An American Dream, available on Amazon.

Big-spirited Little Italy

The Little Italy neighborhoods in Manhattan, The Bronx, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco may be better known, but few offer a more intimate experience than the one on Cleveland’s Murray Hill.

Wall mural, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Wall mural, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Street scene, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Cleveland’s Little Italy was largely insulated from Rust Belt urban blight by its unique location.

Tucked between the University Hospitals complex, the sprawling Lakeview Cemetery, and the hill which crests above it, it’s a virtual urban island.

Holy Rosary Church, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

It’s not surprising that many of the monuments in the adjacent cemetery were fashioned by Italian stonecutters over a century ago.

Mayfield Road, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

This is a truly organic neighborhood built on a pedestrian scale.

In its heyday early in the last century it boasted a parish church, school, shops and restaurants all within blocks of each other and many of which still operate today.  Even the bocce ball court is still in use.

Many restaurants are located around the intersection of Mayfield Road and Murray Hill, but plenty are scattered among the residences to create the feel of a truly organic neighborhood.  Today it makes for a picturesque walkabout..

Nido Italia restaurant, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Many restaurants are located around the intersection of Mayfield Road and Murray Hill, but plenty are scattered among the residences to create the feel of a truly organic neighborhood. Today it makes for a picturesque walkabout.

Italia Apartments, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Anthony’s Restaurant, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Street scene, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

 

Beginning in May and continuing through September nearly every restaurant features sidewalk dining, with the added bonus of a people-watching spectacle.

Local residents, visitors in from the suburbs, and a growing influx of professionals from the nearby hospitals all walking the sidewalks make for an entertaining meal.

 

 

 

La Dolce Vita Restaurant, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

At La Dolce Vita, a personal favorite, Fellini’s movie of the same name seems to run perpetually, projected high on a dining room wall. On weekends, the crowd often spills out onto the patio in back.

Behind La Dolce Vita Restaurant, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Vintage home, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Murray Hill attracts visitors from all over the city, and with Cleveland’s other Italian immigrant neighborhoods now long gone has become a cultural touchstone for local Italian-Americans now five and six generations removed from the old country.

Il Bacio Restaurant, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

It’s hard to eat a meal here that doesn’t have the flavor of authentic recipes handed down from generation to generation.

Fiori Gallery, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Walk off a hearty meal at least far enough down the block to have a gelato dessert or grab an evening smoke at the cigar shop.

Apartments, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

Apartments, Murray Hill, Little Italy, Cleveland

This entire experience goes on steroids every August at the Feast of the Assumption, a Mardi-Gras style celebration of music, food, and culture. At other times of year there’s opera in the Italian Cultural Garden, and Italian film festival, and the obligatory Columbus Day parade.

In the evening the lighted restaurants, streetlamps, and strolling visitors give the place the feel of an Italian piazza on a Saturday night.

Street parking on weekends and during big events can be a challenge here, but a turn off Euclid onto Mayfield goes right past a large parking lot on the left by the railroad bridge.

More here on Cleveland’s Little Italy

Also check out my related posts:

Dallas’s Italian Grocery

The Italian-Argentine connection