Tag Archives: Cleveland

Cleveland’s Industrial Valley by Night

I nearly killed myself to get these photos (wiped out on my bike). But it was worth it because I think they turned out pretty cool (even if I did shoot them on my iPhone).

I have lived in Cleveland for two and a half years and I’ve never been through the industrial valley at night until this weekend. It was surprisingly busy.

This is some kind of glass recycling facility. It appeared to be running at full kilt at approximately 1 a.m. when we rode through.

This site is a favorite of photographers, especially during the day, I am told, because of the huge piles of broken glass and the interesting ways light reflects off them

We passed some weird (I don’t know) fueling stations, that were nonetheless eerie and cool-looking.

Also, the always enchanting chemical plant, right by Clark Fields by Tremont. Much better to look at at night. Apologies, by the way, I didn’t get off my bike for this one.

The highlight of the whole adventure was really the steel mill though. This mill — someone correct me if I’m wrong — is the last mill standing in Cleveland and the Cleveland region more generally, save Akron and Youngstown.

They were working through the night and the loudspeaker enhanced voice of some supervisor echoed instructions across the quiet valley.

This was the best shot I could get with my lame camera phone. The bright light on the left is the mill’s plume, visible day and night over the valley. Dennis Kucinich once called this flame “Cleveland’s Pilot Light,” according to Cleveland Magazine.

I would really recommend checking out the mill at night. It is really amazing to see up close, like something out of a German sci-fi flick from the 1930s.

Anyway, the whole thing was like porn for industrial landscape enthusiasts, like myself. Someone with a real camera and the knowledge of how to use one should follow up with this and send us the photos.


Leave a comment

Filed under Headline, The Big Urban Photography Project

Rust Wire’s Big Urban Photography Project Show is coming to Cleveland

For more than two years, Rust Wire has been inviting photographers to share their perspective on Rust Belt cities. Now, we have collected some of the best shots into a traveling exhibition.

In case you missed it in Pittsburgh in April, Rust Wire is hosting another showing of our Big Urban Photography Project in Clevelandtown! The show opens 5:30 on Thursday, July 7 at Cleveland Public Art, 1951 W. 26th Street.

The show will feature the work of nearly one dozen photographers hailing from Buffalo, Erie, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Youngstown and other cities.

We are really proud of the talented people in our region and we would love to share a beer with some of our loyal readers.
















There is still time to submit photos (but not very much time). Email Angie at rustbeltnews@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, check out these pictures from our Pittsburgh show.

Cleveland and Northeast Ohio readers, we hope to see you there!


Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Good Ideas, The Big Urban Photography Project

Rust Belt Wunderkind Akron Develops Land Use and Transportation Plan

Akron is a smart city. I just want to get that out of the way.

I was just browsing Green City Blue Lake Today and I stumbled across this: Akron Maps Out Sustainable Land Use and Transportation. Writes GCBL’s Mark Lefkowitz:

Connecting Communities: A Guide to Integrating Land Use and Transportation is a good read on the Akron/Summit region’s development patterns with an eye toward “increasing transportation choices, improving connectivity and reducing environmental impact.”


The article continues that Akron will be inventorying parking, sidewalks, transit stops, bikeways and landuse to explore gaps in the transportation system. The goal is to create — get this — a vibrant urban environment.

Akron, hat tip to you: a progressive, smart Rust Belt city.

I am a little frustrated by this news. As a resident of the much larger, nearby Cleveland metro region, our regional planning agency NOACA still treats land use like a dirty word, even as sprawl decimates the central city and impoverishes the region.

Let’s make this interesting, shall we? Make lemonade out of regional planning lemons, so to say.

I am taking bets on how long it will take Cleveland to catch up to Akron. 10 years? 15?

Does anyone have an insight? Just curious.



Leave a comment

Filed under Public Transportation, sprawl

Brookings Report Says Rust Belt Succeeding at Attracting Skilled Immigrants

Look out, Silicon Valley.

Read the report from Brookings here, which notes the success Rust Belt cities have had in attracting skilled immigrants.

The report notes:

“Perhaps most notable is the very high concentration of high-skilled immigrants in older industrial metro areas in the Midwest and Northeast such as Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Syracuse. Detroit, for instance, has 144 high-skilled immigrants for every 100 low-skilled immigrants. Immigrants in these metropolitan areas tilt toward high-skill because they blend earlier arriving cohorts who have had time to complete higher education with newcomers entering who can fit into the labor market because of their high educational attainment. Several of the cities in these metropolitan areas also campaign to attract and retain immigrants, signaling appreciation for the small number of high-skilled immigrants they do have.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Education

Despite Protests, Cleveland Plows Ahead with Senseless Demolition Plan

Cleveland made alot of people sick today, including a full house of people at the Landmark's meeting who love it. Phote courtesy of Plain Dealer.

Despite a horror show of a presentation. Despite the casino construction being stopped. Despite horrible design. Despite half of the Landmark’s Commission not voting (six abstaining?) on the demolition of a architectural landmark for a parking spot, despite it all: the destruction of the historic Columbia Building was approved in Cleveland today.

My city made me sick today. It voted to cut off its nose to pretty it’s face.

After the vote, the packed meeting spilled out into the history of City Hall’s halls so as to provide an exclamation to a historical rerun — one of politics, power, and an old guard holding on to their means of affecting the city’s flesh like a picker obsessed with reopening the scabs.

The advocates—many young, most creative—walked out with that same glazed look over their eyes. Around them, City Councilmen commenced ass-slapping with Dan Gilbert’s development team as a bevy of labor management stood approving, their penny loafers entrenched in the marble floor.

This is how it goes in the industrial Midwest. Same old, same old. This is how it goes despite the issue of brain drain, retention, and the wanting of the creative class coming up each and every time the Census comes around.

And of course as they go about fighting for the right to alleviate themselves of the past, they bemoan their critics for hanging onto it. In fact Nate Forbes–developer, owner, and all-star everything–said over and over at the meeting today that: change is hard, change is hard.

No. Change is easy. A wrecking ball to a building, leaving for “greener pastures”, or in a word: escapism—it ain’t nothing that nobody cannot do.

Integration is hard. It takes practice. And integrating some civic empowerment into a process—not to mention a casino amenity into (as opposed to on top of) the city’s flesh—well, it would’ve been a good place to start.

–Richey Piiparinen

Leave a comment

Filed under Featured, Headline

In Casino Controversy, Cleveland Leaders Risk, Once Again, Ignoring Past Mistakes

This rebirth was to be a referendum on all the past deaths. Because this time our leaders got it, as the latest Cleveland renaissance was less about a convention center and a casino than it was about the urban fabric. Stand alone splashes were out, then. Building from within was in—with the importance on place, space, and connectivity a sort of confession to wash our past planning sins clean.

The Columbia Building currently stands where the glass structure is on the left. The existing Stanley Building remains in the middle. The car port is to the right. Like Sesame Street said, "one of these things is not like the other".

But then casino developer Rock Ventures wanted a parking garage/valet staging area to grease entry and exit. And to get it they wanted to demolish the landmarked Columbia Building, with the subsequent car port to be attached to the architectural chest of the city via an elevated glass walkway. And the leaders quickly said yes: the Planning Commission, the mayor’s office. And so it came to this: the Landmark’s Commission meeting, with a substantial public turnout ready and pissed. Or a public sick of hearing how Cleveland is but one last transgression away.


It was standing room only as the architects from KA architecture began the presentation, the packaging. The necessity of another parking garage was a first topic. “We must have control of safe, proximate parking to the casino itself,” said architect Craig Wasserman. Wasserman went on to say that every effort to reuse the Columbia Building was looked at, but that it couldn’t be used for parking, and that “working around the Columbia would compromise the service of the valet.”

Echoed Marcus Glover, the General Manager of the Horseshoe Casino: “One of the things consistent across the board [with successful inner city casinos] is parking. The great ones drop you off right in front.”

“Right in front”, the “service of the valet”: it is at this point that the issue before the Commission was not so much the need for parking as it was the requirement of a doped-up valet spot, aka the “Welcome Center”. More exactly, the new parking garage would add a mere 300 “high value” spots, which prompted one Commission member to ask if alternatives were exhausted so as to avoid demolishing the Columbia. Specifically, that 700-spot garage in the former May Co. building—the one underused and a stone’s throw away from the proposed staging area—was it inquired about for use or renovation? It wasn’t said Glover. Why the member asked? Dark, too small for SUV’s, its emptiness proof of its decrepitude—such was the response.

Yet the response was more than that. As the argument from Team Horseshoe soon bent to the argument that they know casinos, and they know how shit is run. And it is run like this according to Glover: “We are a marketing company and our mission is to drive foot traffic that will allow us to maximize and operationalize our market.” Maximization in this case entailed climate-control, convenience, and above all: “a sense of arrival”. Glover then pointed to an image of New Orleans’ 8-lane valet entryway as a model for inner city downtown’s to follow. “The sense of arrival is fantastic,” he’d go on to say. One local urban designer, though, disagreed, referring to the Bayou model as “a loading dock” in subsequent public comments.

The City was nonetheless impressed, soon parading the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and the City Council President up before the Commission as if to put a civic cleanse to what could be a public stain.

Said the Mayor’s man Ken Silliman, “[The casino] is a major win for the City of Cleveland.” Outside of basic cheerleading, however, Silliman’s overall message was a bit dissociative, saying that what sets Cleveland apart is its distinctiveness, which in large part is embodied in its standing, structural history. “If you look at the recent film making here”, he’d continue, “the reason why they pick Cleveland is largely because of its historical setting”. Why Silliman, then, stood in the “unprecedented position of coming before the Commission to advocate for the demolition of the Columbia Building” was uncertain, not to mention unhelpful to Team Horseshoe’s cause.

This dissociation, however, is in fact part of a larger mixed messaging coming out of City Hall of late. In fact, the Mayor appointed a Group Planning Commission whose job it was to ensure that Downtown would be scaled, connected, and pedestrian-friendly—but not insular with its big-ticket projects. Yet in this city littered with a long history of uncertain futures comes an indecisive leadership, a wanting leadership—which is to say no leadership at all. And it is precisely such a milieu in which the promises of some other destination become the hopes filling the void of not believing in the city that is yourselves.

Another chunk of the city’s flesh down the memory hole, then. A memory hole that was in fact proved to have birthed the plan for the Welcome Center in the first place.

You see, it was nearing the end of the Commission meeting when Thomas Caffey, a trial lawyer and Commission member, spoke. His request was straightforward enough, speaking to Team Horseshoe in general: “Can anyone tell me what life was like back then? Who built the building? When was it built?”

Courtesy of Cleveland Landmarks Commission

The team fuddled. No date of birth. No designer. Nothing except a comment from the architect that it was “nice background building”. Caffey expressed understandable concern as to the lack of research into what was going to be torn down. Said Caffey, speaking to the Commission’s conundrum succinctly and eloquently: “You are asking us to okay the idea of a Welcome Center having been deemed superior to preserving what’s there even though you don’t know what’s there.”

And it is precisely this mixed messaging that has been killing Cleveland for decades. The mixed message of designing a welcoming to a place with no knowledge of that place’s evolution—the mixed messaging of City Hall advocating for the urban fabric with a saw in hand—the mixed messaging of pride becoming irrelevance.

Yet given the turnout at the meeting there appears there’s a large chunk of the public that is no longer listening. Instead they spoke so as to fill in that memory gap that keeps wiping Cleveland’s identity out. Said Gregory Coltis, speaking on behalf of the Save Lower Prospect Avenue group. “There are too many holes already in our city. It makes me sad to see the giant hole (surface parking lots) in the middle of the Warehouse District. It’s time to start acting like we deserve this [good design]. Knocking down a building for a parking garage is not respect.”

(The Landmarks Commission tabled the vote until June 9th. Stay tuned.)

–Richey Piiparinen

Leave a comment

Filed under Featured

Come to the opening of The Big Urban Photography Project’s first show

Rust Wire is proud to present The Big Urban Photography Project art show, featuring photographic interpretations of Rust Belt cities as seen through the eyes of their young residents. The show is the result of a multi-year collaborative media project that called on the region’s best documentary and fine arts photographers.

Over two years, we asked for open submissions of photography highlighting the unique blend of despair and hope in a number of cities. Dozens of amateur and professional photographers submitted images of Detroit, Youngstown, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Toledo, Cincinnati, Buffalo and others. The art show will allow us to share hold up the best work as a tribute to the region.

The Brew House, 2100 Mary Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side, will host the exhibit.

The show will open with a reception from 6-9 p.m. Friday, April 15. We would love to see you -our readers and contributors- there.

Let us know if you are coming here. We would love to meet as many of you as possible.

We also plan to bring the show to Cleveland and Youngstown soon!

A special thanks to Theo Keller at The Brew House, Tirzah DeCaria and Kara Skylling for helping plan and co-ordinate this show!

-Kate & Angie

1 Comment

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