Rust Belt, Cleveland

The Rust Belt is America’s industrial heartland, certainly not what it was back in the early-to-mid 20th century, but it remains the manufacturing belt of the United States. Geography had plenty to do with it, much of it having to do with coal making its way to the Great Lakes, paving the way for steel production, and easy access to commercial corridors. So rose the formerly great cities of the Rust Belt, Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Toledo, among others.

I’ve driven cross-country numerous times, and one of my favorite stops is Cleveland. It’s been maligned forever, with industrial decay, riots, Cuyahoga River fires, lousy sports teams, a neglected lakefront, Ariel Castro, among other things. Then there’s the great Cleveland Orchestra and lots of really amazing cultural attractions that manage to fly under the radar.

I particularly enjoy downtown and the industrial flats, with the winding Cuyahoga River going through all of it, and a myriad of functional bridges criss-crossing at all sorts of angles and all sorts of levels. This makes for one of the great industrial panoramas and a glimpse into the once-bustling city. Cleveland unfortunately has suffered from the massive population loss, it’s a rather empty 82 square miles, once densely populated with over 900,000 residents, now just under 400,000. The neighborhoods haven’t fared that well, with a few exceptions, there’s no longer cohesion between parts of town. Freeways have further isolated the neighborhoods, and sometimes split them in half. But parts remain beautiful, and there’s still a hint of that industrial heritage.

Detroit-Superior Bridge (1918) and Cleveland skyline

Detroit-Superior Bridge (1918) and Cleveland skyline

The still-active Cuyahoga River

The still-active Cuyahoga River

Cleveland's cathedral, walking along the flats under the bridge

Cleveland’s cathedral, walking along the flats under the bridge

Classic Tremont.

Classic Tremont.

Yup, Deer Hunter. St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral (1912).

Yup, Deer Hunter. St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral (1912).

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