Posted on August 4, 2016
Flavor one: revitalized tourist town. We traveled downtown to the amazing main public library, which was exhibiting a first folio edition of Shakespeare’s complete works; then walked across a couple of beautiful public squares, past the food trucks and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to the Great Lakes Science Center. A freighter was open for tours, right next to an adorable harbor that was not deep enough for our boat; the Browns’ stadium was right there as well.
The Science Center might well be the best kids’ science museum we’ve ever visited, and we’ve seen quite a few. It was packed with kids, but there was so much to see and do, you rarely had to wait on anything. It was Explore Space Week, which they clearly take seriously—the Glenn Space Center is a permanent exhibit, with an actual space capsule used to supply Space Lab in 1973, and a real moon rock.
We stopped at a fancy grocery store on the way back to the boat, and treated ourselves to take-out sushi.
The night we came into town, there was a free concert downtown featuring Carlos Santana (we missed it). Fireworks, and more free music, last night. The city is filled with museums; we didn’t even scratch the surface. Clearly, a lot has been invested in the city center.
Flavor two: working class town. This is a busy marina, right next to a busy, race-focused yacht club; but it’s right next to the sewage treatment plant. (We had a choice between here, and a spot next to an airport; thanks to the easterly wind, I clearly chose…poorly.) Lots of heavily-used, older, 25-foot fishing boats; lots of clearly-not-used “project” boats. Lots of dock parties. We haven’t been getting much sleep.
Despite the renovations in central downtown, there are still ore docks right on the lakefront. We’re hearing trains from the boat; tracks separate the marina from the town, running all along the lakeshore. There’s still plenty of heavy industry in Cleveland.
Flavor three: economically struggling town. I think the easiest way to see Cleveland from a boat is to take your dinghy into downtown from one of the marinas, but as our outboard is still on the sidelines, we opted to take the bus. The main street nearest to us had a few craft-beer sandwich places and bike shops making inroads, but our main impression was of boarded-up empty buildings, dollar stores and fast food restaurants. There was no hardware store within walking distance, and the one grocery store was grim. There was a big police presence at the branch library nearby. People looked like they were struggling.
When we talked to locals here—on the bus, at the library, at the marina—they’re excited about how their town is doing. We heard a lot of pride about the various events going on around the city, and people were happy about how things were going for Cleveland; but I’d hate to leave the impression that the city is only manicured downtown parks and awesome museums. On the other hand—traveling through the tourist towns of Michigan and the North Channel, it’s easy to forget about any kind of diversity–racial, economic, you name it. We’ve mostly been seeing facelifted, sanitized lakefronts, with t-shirt shops and ice cream stores; Cleveland has depth. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s not just for show.
Some things that are just for show: before and after of Michu’s facial hair; we’re calling the new style “the chinhawk.”