Category Archives: The Big Urban Photography Project

Photo Tour: St. Joseph Byzantine Church in Cleveland

St. Joseph Byzantine Church was the second church that St Joseph’s parish built on the site in the Union-Miles neighborhood. The first was built in 1913; in the early 1930s, it became a parish hall and a new structure erected next to it. By the early 1970s, the parish decided to move to Brecksville, and sold the church to Zion Baptist, which abandoned the main building a few years later.

The first time I encountered it was on a photo drive with my partner in early 2012; we were returning from Valley View up Warner Rd. and continued north on East 93rd. As we crossed Orleans Ave. on a late winter afternoon, one of those rare sunny days, we caught a glimpse of the building, lit by afternoon’s infrared-heavy glow, and with glimpses of blue sky through the empty windows. We circled back and found unblocked entry through a high doorway on the western face. I returned twice more, both times in the early morning, with pale winter sunlight streaming in. Every time I went, the atmosphere of the place was overwhelming — a mix of history, reverence and remnants of breathtaking beauty that stayed with us for hours afterward. I was also struck by the relative lack of graffiti inside and out.
This image depicts the high priest Melchizedek bringing bread and wine to Abram. Melchizedek is a complex figure who has unusual roles in a variety of religions (and their variants), and is seen as an example of an Old Testament Christophany, or manifestation of a Christ-like figure.
This image depicts the stoning of St. Stephen.
–Writing and photography by Mark Satola

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Photo Essay: Minneapolis' Lowlights

My pictures are not kind to Minneapolis. But they’re worth comparing to what they replaced over the last half-century. Streetcars and Richardsonian romanesque castles were replaced by freeways and Kmarts. Once welcoming places grew alien and forbidding.

I moved to Minneapolis from a college town in Iowa two and a half years ago. I was surprised to find that it was a lot like where I used to live, only there was more of it: more roads, more cars, more buildings. The more I found out about the history of the places I traversed on a regular basis, the greater became my dissatisfaction with how they had changed.

I may not be old enough to remember a time when Minneapolis was any different, but I still feel a visceral sense of regret when I take stock of the city today. I found that the most cathartic way to deal with my resentment of the recent past was to turn a withering photographic eye on the landscapes that came out of it.

The theme of vision figures prominently in this project. There are cartoon dog eyes, cartoon sponge eyes, washing machine eyes–but human eyes are scratched over, shaded, or blindfolded. To me, this represents our willful blindness to the current condition of our city: desolate and inhumane.

There are many

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ways to picture a city. The diverse faces that beam from under bicycle helmets in city brochures tell one story. My images are different. They are incidental, in that I would find myself in these places whether I were photographing them or not.

This is the mundane fabric of everyday life here, and it’s not pretty.

— by Joe Scott

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Burned: A Photo Essay on Arson in Toledo

Above photo by Sam Ricker

Editor’s note: The following photo essay come from Lori King’s photojournalism students at Owens Community College. Click here to view their photo essay.


Above photo by Lynn Redding

Burned: The Rust Belt on fire

A photo story by the Intro to Photojournalism class at Owens Community College
By Lynn Redding and Miranda Molyet

Arson is the leading cause of fires in the United States, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Of these fires, 30 percent are in structures, including homes. Fire officials estimate that 50 percent of all fires may be intentionally set, yet it is difficult to determine the actual number of arson fires because many of them go unreported.

The FBI estimates that four out of the top 10 cities in the United States for arson crimes reported are in Ohio. The fourth spot on the list is right here, in Toledo. The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal reported that the six common motives for arson are: excitement, vandalism, crime concealment, revenge, extremist/terrorist and profit.

For our team community service photo story project, the Introduction to Photojournalism class at Owens Community College visited a few arson fire sites in the Central Toledo area.

Why should we, as a community, care about arson and its impact on the Rust Belt?

Arson is a felony crime. It is a crime against people, and every year firefighters are killed in responding to open-air fires. Then there is the cost of the fires, including the cost of supplies to fight the fires, the value of the property destroyed, the loss of tax revenue, and the fact that firefighters must be paid. In spite of the fact that arson is a crime, the real reason we should care about the growing arson problem in the Rust Belt is the fact that while firefighters are away battling an intentional and needless fire, they cannot respond in the event a real emergency should arise. The cost of arson is more than money; it is putting lives at risk.

To learn more about  Lori’s class and their work, check out the class blog here.

Above photo by Paula Taylor

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Filed under Crime, Economic Development, Featured, The Big Urban Photography Project, The Media, Urban Poverty

Pittsburgh Pics

Some great photos of the Steel City from my pal Estelle Tran at her new blog, Pixburgh N’at.

Recognize this spot in Oakland?

Another great street scene.

Love this one.

Make sure you read the sign.

Check more of ’em out here.


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Filed under architecture, Art, Featured, Rust Belt Blogs, The Big Urban Photography Project

Return of Youngstown’s Idora Neighborhood

For decades, Youngstown’s Fosterville Neighborhood, located on the city’s south side, was a vibrant residential area. It played host to the booming Glenwood Avenue commercial corridor and the legendary Idora Amusement Park, whose Wildcat roller coaster was consistently ranked among the top roller coasters in the country.

Photo: Sean Posey

The collapse of the local steel industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the closure of Idora Park in 1984, signaled the area’s long decline.

In recent years, the area now known as Idora has begun a turnaround. The creation of the Idora Block Watch and then the Idora Neighborhood Association sparked increased community involvement. A decline in crime and the increasing removal of blight continues to give residents hope. That hope was celebrated this past weekend with the first annual Idora Fest.

Enjoy these photos from the event:








Thanks for sharing, Sean Posey. We are going to continue following Youngstown’s efforts to save its neighborhoods!


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Urban Hiking in Pittsburgh

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of joining a group of Pittsburghers for an Urban Hike in Swissvale, a borough just outside the city with an interesting history.

Some stops along the way included the Trundle Manor, Kopp Glass and some affordable housing for sale from the Mon Valley Initiative.

Also on the journey: The Triangle Bar, home of the famous “Battleship” (giant sub sandwich).

Urban Hike is a group that regularly organizes hikes in the city’s various neighborhoods and surrounding communities, with stops along the way so participants can learn about what they are walking by/seeing. I recommend checking out their web site to learn more about where they will be trekking next.

What a great morning! A combination of some of my favorite things: cities, history and walking!


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Filed under Featured, Good Ideas, Real Estate, regionalism, The Big Urban Photography Project, Urban Planning

Summertime in Clevelandtown

Author’s note: This post is alternatively titled “Angie’s Best-O-Cle, Part Deux.”

Summertime in Clevelandtown. No one ever wrote sonnets about it, but maybe that was because they were having too much fun! Ew, besides, sonnets are boring and pretentious. And ode to Cleveland in the summer would be a good punk rock song.

But I digress …

My secret spot.


If you live in Clevelandtown, like me, you probably don’t have central air. But Cleveland gets hot in the summer. So, when I am in need of a cool down, I hop on my bike and head down to the Lake.

The spot pictured above is the only spot on the shoreline that’s shady, under the pier. Even on the hottest of days, it’s pretty comfortable under here, provided no one drops worm guts on you. Plus there is something hypnotizing about watching the waves wash against those giant concrete and steel structures. Very rusty.

Some people are snobbish about Edgewater Park. But Edgewater is very Cleveland. It has its own culture. It’s inclusive. It’s inexpensive. It’s family friendly. It’s dog friendly. It’s pretty much everyone friendly.

Ok, onward.

If you’re going to be in Cleveland in the summertime, you should probably get yourself to a barbecue in Tremont.

Another good thing to do on summer nights is walk around the neighborhood. One of the unexpected surprises to be found in my neighborhood, Detroit Shoreway, is this old Jewish cemetery. Unfortunately they keep it locked.


Fir Street Cemetery

Isn’t she beautiful?!

Also, you should probably get yourself to Academy Tavern on a Friday night and hear this band on the patio.

One of the highlights of the summer in Cleveland is the Summer Solstice Party at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Everyone in town gets dressed up in their finest.

It is a pretty stellar party, I would say, even from a national standpoint.

Another thing: If you’re going to be in Cleveland in the summertime (or anytime, really), you are going to want to check out a group bike ride.

Pictured below is the “Nerd Ride,” hosted by Crank Set in July. If seeing dozens of adults riding down the street dressed as nerds, dorks and dweebs doesn’t lift your spirits, then you are in need of some very strong medication and I feel sorry for you.

This photo is from the Academic Decathlon held at Happy Dog.

This goat is a Cleveland resident, believe it or not. He was one of the attractions on the Euclid Beach Day bike ride, which included a stop at Covatts Garden Center.

Every summer in Cleveland, Mount Carmel Church, in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood celebrates … a saint. I’m not sure which one. Sorry guys. There’s so damn many of them.

Anyway, this event is not as well known as Little Italy’s Feast of the Assumption, but it is no less awesome.

The next stop on this fabulous tour is Mitzi’s Cafe, continually open and in operation by the same family in Cleveland on St. Clair Avenue since 1908. This bar was listed as one of the nation’s top 10 dive bars by Playboy Magazine.

Friendly service and cheap drinks don’t count for what they used to. But Mitzi’s is old school.

Speaking of dive bars, another Cleveland classic is Beachland Tavern, a former Croatian dance hall-turned music venue. The ballroom hosts big acts, but the tavern is smaller and more intimate. If you are really, really lucky, you can catch great acts on their way up. The Black Keys played their first show to a half dozen people in this venue not that long ago.

Finally, catch some outdoor drama, with Cleveland Public Theater’s free STEP series in city parks. All the actors are urban teens and they are extraordinarily talented.

There are plenty more fun things to do in Cleveland in the summer. But it’s more than one girl can take in.

Feel free to add your favorites in our comments section.


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