Yes. We absolutely love Cleveland, even in the middle of winter.
Once again, Cleveland is in the news.
This week, it’s for the Greek tragedy (or comedy, depending on your viewpoint) that is the Cleveland Browns and the “Perfect Season” Parade taking place tomorrow. Though the debate rages on (in some circles) about whether or not the Browns are an asset to our community, we should remember that Clevelanders have a lot to be proud of.
Just yesterday, I read this article on cleveland.com about how our city has been named to National Geographic Traveler’s 2018 “Best of the World” list. Timely, as I was already working on this love letter to my adoptive home town.
It’s not the first time we’ve been named as a top vacation destination or a great place to live. More and more often, Cleveland is being featured in these types of travel guides, and rightly so.
I may be tempted to book a flight to a warmer location on a cold January day like today, when the wind chill is well below zero, but I still really love this town. For clients, friends, and family who wonder why I’m such a huge fan of Cleveland, these are just some of the many reasons why.
Cleveland is a city on the rise.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly seen or heard about several events that have recently put our city front and center. Cleveland has been spotlighted in the media during nationally televised sports events (hello, Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Champions and Cleveland Indians 2016 American League Champions!), the 2016 Republican National Convention, and as the backdrop of many major motion pictures. Back in June of 2016, we threw an awesomely huge parade for the Cavaliers. All great stuff. We love showing off to the rest of the world.
But to LIVE here, is to know a city rich with history and a deep appreciation for the arts, a community that embraces diversity, and a business culture focused on innovation. It’s a city that’s always been great, that keeps moving forward, and is now experiencing a huge comeback.
Cleveland is a world leader in healthcare innovation.
We’re the home of world renowned medical institutions and centers for scientific research and innovation, such as The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, and Case Western Reserve University. Because of this, the biomedical research industry is thriving, with new startups creating new technologies and delivery systems that will improve healthcare for everyone. These institutions and many other corporations headquartered in the region employ hundreds of thousands of people, helping our economy thrive.
Downtown Cleveland is a vibrant place to live, work, and play.
Downtown Cleveland is making a comeback. With all kinds of new housing popping up, often in repurposed historic buildings, and a completely remodeled public square, there’s a huge resurgence of young professionals living and working downtown. This has resulted in more local amenities, amazing restaurants (several owned and operated by world-famous chefs – hey there, Michael Symon and Rocco Whalen!), casinos, and a thriving nightlife, making it a fun place to be.
Cleveland supports the arts in a big way.
Culturally, Cleveland has always valued and supported the arts. We’re the home of the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra – ranked in the top 10 of all orchestras IN THE WORLD. They perform at the exquisite Severance Hall in one of our cultural hubs, University Circle, when they’re not traveling the globe sharing their awesomeness.
University Circle is also home to the AMAZING Cleveland Museum of Art, one of the BEST IN THE WORLD, and can you believe this? It’s one of the last major art museums in the country that is free to the public every day. FREE. And do you know why? Because the museum is and has always been supported by a generous community of philanthropists who believe in supporting the arts. Their funding has allowed the museum to collect one of the most impressive collections of art to be found anywhere, while remaining accessible to all, since 1913.
And did you know that Cuyahoga County, (where Cleveland is located) has a sales tax that supports the arts? Yep. It’s a penny-and-a-half tax on cigarettes that enables Cuyahoga Arts and Culture to fund local organizations and artists – including the famed Playhouse Square (the nation’s second largest contiguous live theatre complex, second only to Broadway in New York City), visual artists, performers, and those working to bring the arts to their local communities and schools.
There are so many great arts institutions here, I can’t begin to name them all, so just to paint a picture for those outside the “216”, we’re the home of big institutions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, but also, cool arts communities like the Gordon Square Arts District and the 78th Street Studios, and smaller organizations that present great work and educate young artists, like Zygote Press, Bay Arts, Heights Arts, and more. The arts are all around us, and it makes Greater Cleveland a fun, colorful, interesting place to live.
Cleveland is just plain smart… and is pleasantly livable.
Here’s the every-day reason to love Cleveland (and the entire Northeast Ohio area): it’s a well-designed and generally well-run city, it’s affordable, and the people are nice.
I’ve been to a lot of places (in fact, I’m a transplant from Southern California) and here’s what I’ve learned. Many cities and regions are super-expensive, congested, and just plain complicated to live in. And while living in the country is great for some folks, I can’t hack it. So, Cleveland is a good in-between. I won’t say compromise, because it’s not a place you “settle” for, it’s better than that. It falls somewhere between the simplicity of living in a small town and the buzz and bright lights of a much larger city.
It takes about 20-30 minutes to get almost anywhere in Cleveland (well… sometimes longer when we get a dump of snow). Most of the city and surrounding suburbs are set-up using a logical grid system, so it’s not hard to find your way through town (unless you’re in the east side, like in Shaker Heights, where I always get turned around, but it’s so pretty, who cares?). And when a place is easy to live in, people are less cranky, which definitely makes it more livable.
The cost of living is reasonable here, so it’s a great place to raise a family. And did I tell you about the park system? Holy cow. We are blessed with some beautiful natural resources here, including Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. No jokes please. We gave you the Clean Water Act. You’re welcome, America.
We’re also blessed with the Cleveland Metroparks system, which is often called the “Emerald Necklace”, because from the sky, it looks like a bejeweled green necklace, made up of parks and rivers that connect and surround the city. On any given day, in about 20 minutes, you can find a place to picnic, hike, fish, bike, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. The park system has trails and forests and rivers and horse stables and golf courses, and seriously, how long is this blog post going to be? The Metroparks also has an amazing zoo. If you visit here, go see the Elephants. That’s a whole story unto itself. I’ll expound on that one another day.
Finally… Cleveland is the home of superheroes.
If you know me or have visited our website at all, then you probably know I have a thing about superheroes and have been known to evangelize that we all have superpowers. So it won’t come as a surprise that I’d end a blog post about Cleveland on the topic of Superman.
You may know this already, but just in case you missed it… Superman was actually born in Cleveland. You know that, right? Not on Krypton. In Cleveland. He was created by two Glenville High School students, Jerry Siegel and Joel Schuster, in 1933. Some say the idea of a super-strong bullet-proof superhero came to Jerry after his dad was shot and killed during a robbery the year before.
We don’t know that for sure, but one other legend revolves around the Daily Planet, the iconic home of Metropolis’ daily newspaper. Legend has it that Schuster modeled the building, an art deco skyscraper with a giant globe on top, after the AT&T Huron Road tower that serves as Ohio Bell’s corporate headquarters. He never confirmed that, but hey, Google both buildings and tell me you don’t see a similarity.
A ton of superhero movies have been filmed here too, including the Avengers movies, Spiderman 3, and Captain America, The Winter Solder. One my favorite sequences ever filmed in Cleveland was a chase and battle scene filmed on the West Shoreway and Main Avenue Bridge for Winter Soldier. I literally cheered (along with everyone else) in the theatre when I first saw it.
You may be wondering why Cleveland was chosen for these films. Because, I’m telling you, our city is freaking cool. The buildings are beautiful, the city is well planned with wide streets, and oh yeah, we have this great organization called the Greater Cleveland Film Commission that works to get feature films to shoot here, which in turn feeds our economy. Remember the arts sales tax I was talking about? Hellooooo payoff.
And of course… LeBron James. Superhero. I mean… c’mon.
As you can see, superheroes are a thing here. Part of the culture and yet another point of pride we cite when bragging about our home town.
But wait… no place is perfect.
Look, I know Cleveland isn’t Nirvana. We’ve still got problems.
On days like today, the weather simply sucks. No bones about it. And the potholes… don’t even get me started.
Like many cities, Cleveland is more segregated than it should be. The police department has a long way go in it’s effort to rebuild trust with the community, some areas of the inner city are dealing with horrific amounts of violence, and the opioid epidemic has hit Northeast Ohio hard (as it has with most of America).
We have a lot of work to do. But seeing how much the community has grown since I moved here in the 1980’s, I believe that we have the courage and super-human-strength to make Cleveland, and the entire region, even better than it already is.
Now if only we could do something about the football team….