The Columbus-Cleveland Rivalry

I am from Columbus, or really, I’m from Toledo, but I grew up in Columbus. And I live in Cleveland.

There aren’t too many of us Columbus transplants here. On the contrary, when I lived in Columbus, approximately 40 percent of everyone I knew was from Cleveland.

So anyway, when I’m meeting new people from Cleveland it generally comes up relatively soon in the conversation that I am from Columbus. Generally, this inspires one of two reactions:

#1. Wow, Columbus is so cool. (Cleveland sucks, etc.) This is less common, actually. And I get where people are coming from. There’s a lot more young people in Columbus, a lot more restaurants opening, a lot more money, for lack of a better term, etc.

#2. Oh, Columbus. Columbus is so white/boring, or some variation thereof. A lot of times, it goes like this: oh, well Columbus would be nothing if it wasn’t for Ohio State/the State Capital.

Columbusites are not innocent as well. Generally, when you tell them you live in Cleveland, they have an immediate response that contains the word “ghetto,” or some politer version thereof.

I want to propose a truce. I think fundamentally, both cities are jealous of each other. Cleveland is jealous of Columbus because it has a healthy economy and growth and youth. And Columbus is jealous of Cleveland because it has professional sports teams (sad to say) and your average person from Arizona has heard of it.

Here are my thoughts. The Clevelander complaint that Columbus is nothing but a glorified college town/state capital is 100 percent bogus. That is just not true. Columbus is a very business friendly city compared to Cleveland, I think. Columbus is home to many, many national brands that are household names, including, but not limited to, Limited Brands, Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, Bath and Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, White Castle, Wendy’s, Max and Ermas and Nationwide Insurance.

Growing up, and I grew up in a solidly middle-class Columbus community, my friends’ parents didn’t work for the university or the state. By en large, they were dentists, school administrators, bankers, teachers, etc.

On the other hand, Cleveland has some advantages. I do think Lake Erie is an advantage to Cleveland, even though the region has generally blown it taking advantage of this asset. Columbus, is sort of a geographic nowhere.

Cleveland has a lot of cool history, and everything that comes with that. It’s more urban (I see that as a positive, Greater Cleveland, I think, has yet to come around to that viewpoint [to its own detriment]).

If you could combine Cleveland and Columbus, it would be a really fantastic city. In the meantime, I think these cities should stop seeing each other as rivals and think about what they could learn from the other.

In the meantime, do you think we could lay off people that are from Columbus that live in Cleveland (all 12 of us)?


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