Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Cleveland blog.

The ride from the airport to downtown Cleveland by train is efficient and quick, as probably intended by the planners at the Regional Transportation Authority. It's also an introduction to a raw urban landscape: rundown factories, crumbling concrete, rusty bridges, weeds and graffiti. The planners probably didn't intend newcomers to get a bad impression of the city, but they do.

But if I were part of the RTA, I wouldn't worry about that much. As far as I could tell, I was the only rider in my two-car train who had gotten off of an airplane and decided to take the train downtown. Admittedly, it was Sunday afternoon, and a shoulder season for travelers, but still I would have expected a handful of business travelers or German backpackers in town to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But all the other riders seemed to be in their own neighborhoods.

I got off at the main downtown terminal, which debouches directly into a glittering, multistory mall, and if I were in the mood for setting up a sort of easy, newspaperish contrast between "the two Clevelands," I could. But it's too obvious. Cleveland is a dilapidated Northern city, never the same since white flight a generation ago, or industrial decline in more recent times. Cleveland also retains an enormous amount of wealth, not all of it in the suburbs, nor all of it in the hands of the Caucasian population.

Sociological observations aside, I was just a stranger in town, to see what I could see. Or rather, doing what I could to make a business trip tolerable. In this case, it meant flying into town a few hours earlier than strictly necessary. I'd been in town only once before, in the winter of 1998, and my visit then had been so brief that I'd hardly seen anything. Besides, it was cold. Last Sunday, while not especially warm on the southern shore of Lake Erie, was fine for walking around.

Though it isn't generally acknowledged, Cleveland has a fairly large reservoir of attractions for the curious visitor. But as I weighed my options, I decided to forego places like the museum of art, though it's reputed to be excellent. I had time for only one sizable place, and there's only one Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in the world. So, just like any German tourist following the advice of a guidebook, that's where I wanted to go.


Post a Comment

<< Home