As a native of Cleveland, I’ve been fascinated, on the one hand, by the city’s desperate, dystopian “Mad Max” hellscape of shuttered warehouses, gruesome rendering plants and rusted iron ore unloaders. It’s a world that still echoes dimly with the cacophonous clanging of ancient machinery and the inferno roar of steel foundries and blast furnaces. On the other hand, there’s the shining modern metropolis that boasts of having one of the world’s great orchestras, a renowned art museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. These disparate worlds can be viewed simultaneously from the observation deck of a building with the inauspicious name Terminal Tower.
While many non-residents are aware that the Cuyahoga, that most notorious of all rivers, vivisects the city into two roughly equal parts — the east and west sides — they may not know that the city is also divided to a certain degree into north and south by Interstate 90. On the north side you will find historic neighborhoods with splendid Victorian-era houses that have undergone the slow but steady process of gentrification, its newly resurfaced streets teeming with award-winning microbreweries, intimate bistros owned by celebrity chefs, trendy nightclubs and quaint thrift shops.