Cleveland, Ohio is a beautiful, vibrant city on the shores of Lake Erie.
Cleveland is the urban center of "Northeast Ohio", the 14th largest consolidated metropolitan area in the United States. Throughout the twentieth century, Cleveland was ranked as one of the 10 largest cities in the U.S., but like most U.S. cities, began to lose population to suburban areas in the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately, Cleveland received a bad reputation in the 1970s due to a series of unfortunate events, most notably the Cuyahoga River catching fire. Okay, it didn't actually catch fire. Some debris floating on top did. Still, the name-calling continues ("Mistake On The Lake" is a perennial favorite). However, in the mid-1980s, Cleveland earned nickname the "Comeback City" as the urban core experienced a dramatic revitalization process that continues today.
Like any "Rust Belt" town, Cleveland has endured growing pains as it makes its transition from a manufacturing-based economy. While Cleveland earned the reputation as the "Silicon Valley" of the Industrial Age, it also developed economic prowess in the fields of health care, law, finance, insurance, real estate development, and professional services. Cleveland is not only home to early innovations in technology (such as automotive and aeronautical components, steel, petroleum, rail, shipping, electrical lighting and telecommunications), but has made some of the most profound contributions to modern medicine (blood transfusions, heart-lung machines, heart transplants, use of anesthetics during surgery and many more).
What non-locals don't often realize is that Cleveland's long history of industrial wealth has left it chock full of cultural riches as well as the beginnings of a "sustainable city" movement. For decades, the city has boasted of a "Big Five" orchestra, the second largest performing arts center in the U.S., a world-renowned art museum, the nation's first health museum, the NASA Glenn Research Center and a number of other first-rate attractions. During its "comeback" years, Cleveland has added the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Great Lakes Science Center and four new sports facilities in the downtown area for its professional baseball (Indians), basketball (Cavaliers) and football (Browns) teams as well as the Cleveland State University Vikings basketball team. To complete the "Hall of Fame Cycle", tourists can plan visits to the Rock Hall, Inventure Place (the Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron) and the Professional Football Hall of Fame (in Canton).
Despite the perception that Cleveland is an industrial town, just beyond the automotive and steel plants, a clean and beautiful downtown sits at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River on the southern shore of Lake Erie (often marvelled over by visitors who are surprised you can't see the other side, i.e., Canada).
The largest local daily newspaper is the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The business community is supported by the weekly paper, Crain's Cleveland Business as well as monthly issues of Inside Business and Smart Business magazine. There are two main free weeklies, The Free Times and Cleveland Scene.
Cleveland's main airport, the Cleveland Hopkins Airport (CLE), is located on the west side of the city. The airport is served by most of the major domestic airlines, and it is a hub for Continental Airlines as well. Burke Lakefront Airport is a small airport right on the shore of Lake Erie that handles private jet traffic.
Historically nicknamed the "Forest City", Cleveland is a great place for outdoor activities. If you think Cleveland is just a "rust belt" city, get out to the nearest Cleveland Metropark. The parks form an "Emerald Necklace" around the Cleveland metropolitan area, so no matter which direction you go from downtown, you're headed toward a park. Biking, horseback riding, jogging and rollerblading are easily accomodated by the miles of trails (paved and unpaved) encircling Cuyahoga County. In the winter, visitors can cross country ski these same trails. Sitting upon the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, Cleveland also provides downhill skiers with slopes throughout the area.
No "mistake" about it! Cleveland boasts miles of Lake Erie shoreline, providing enjoyment from before Memorial Day to past Labor Day for boaters, fishermen and beach bums. Sailers, boaters, waverunners and jet skiers enjoy the lake with marinas, piers and boat launches available all along America's "North Coast". Fishing is popular more than three seasons of the year with healthy populations of Walleye and Perch in Lake Erie. In the late fall and early winter, anglers pursue steelhead trout in the many rivers feeding Lake Erie up through the northeast and into Pennsylvania and Western New York.
A river winds through it. Rowing crews, canoers and kayakers enjoy the diverse scenery along the Cuyahoga (a Native American term, meaning "Crooked River"). The Cuyahoga provides a mosaic of the nightspots of the Flats (dockage at restaurants and bars), downtown's towers rising up the hill, active industrial remnants of the birthplace of the petroleum and steel industries, pastoral settings and the Ohio Canal (which in the 1800s provided the connection between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River, ultimately enabling shipping from the Atlantic Ocean (via the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Erie Canal) to the Gulf of Mexico (via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers). The Ohio Canal has been preserved as a core element of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Not amused by nature? If you prefer to step up the pace, Northeast Ohio offers world-class amusement parks including Cedar Point (1 hour drive to Sandusky), Geauga Lake just outside of southeastern Cuyahoga County and Memphis Kiddie Park (in Brooklyn, Ohio), a small but fun park for the little ones (toddlers to pre-teens).
Cleveland is host to a wide variety of restaurants and is culinarily much more diverse than an outsider might suspect drawing on large enclaves of ethnic neighborhoods and immigration (Ohio City, Slavic Village, Parma, Hough, Little Italy and others). Certainly, Eastern European food and Soul food are big in a city where Slavs, Poles, Czechs, Bohemians and Southern African Americans were drawn to the steel industry at the end of the 19th century; however recent emigres have spiced up the mix, adding many more influences including Indian, Chinese, Puerto Rican and Central American, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean.
In the mid-1990s Cleveland was in step with the resurgence of the restaurant industry, and has many restaurants on-par with their larger-city counterparts: Michael Symon's Lola Bistro, The Baricelli Inn, One Walnut, The Flying Fig and many others offer contemporary American Cuisine to fine French-themed dining.
Today's Cleveland is not your Grandfather's sausage and pierogi steel town.