No matter where you travel, you can always find something interesting to see and do. When we arrived in Cleveland, we were exhausted from looking online and at the Tourist Centre for ideas. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame aside, Cleveland isn’t known as a big tourist draw.
We decided to stay at an Airbnb on Waterloo Avenue, in what they termed as the “Artist’s Village”. So we decided to explore this little neighbourhood and talk to some locals about the history here.
In the 1940’s – 1950’s, Cleveland’s Collinwood neighbourhood was alive with middle-class factory workers. Many families were new immigrants, who moved here for the “American Dream”. As with many factory towns, the factories eventually closed down, and the population plummeted in a wave of foreclosures in the 1970’s and 80’s.
The neighbourhood suffered decades of blight, and the banks couldn’t give vacant and neglected homes away. In 2009, there were 220 vacant and boarded up homes in a neighbourhood of 5,000. In the neighbourhood of Collinwood, a community development corporation bought nine foreclosed homes within a 10-block area, and created the “Artist’s Village”.
Now in 2016, it’s inspiring to see the neighbourhood insisting on thriving. Interesting to note the retro theme throughout the area symbolizing a time when America was in it’s more prosperous glory days. Blue Arrow Records was filled with a large collection of vintage vinyl records and an impressive comic book collection. What impressed us the most was the floor, made of record jackets.
Then we met Shawn, sitting at a table in an empty gallery space showcasing black and white images of Cleveland’s local music scene. Shawn talked to us about the neighbourhood, and described it as a place where former punk rockers come to retire. Sitting behind his empty table with his coconut water, a book and smart phone for company, Shawn was happy to talk to us about the area and what the artistic community is hoping to achieve.
Even our own little Airbnb location is a former artist workshop, turned into a rental for travellers. Space on the floor where they hoped gallery patrons would stand, is taken up by a ping pong table to entertain guests. You make money where you can I guess.
So what else do they do in this little neighbourhood? Well they rescued 50 cats, fixed them, and allow them to live on the streets. Donations provide food and shelter when the weather calls for it. We didn’t see any street cats while we were there. They’re likely napping under a tree, fat and happy.
We enjoyed our short stay on Cleveland’s Waterloo Avenue. If you want to learn more about the Artist’s Village, click here.
Our road trip continues tomorrow, when we venture into Cincinnati. We’re currently online looking for interesting things to see and do…..