Cleveland’s Best Sights
Most Amazing Old Mall: When it was built in 1890, The Arcade (420 Superior Ave., 216/696-1408, www.thearcade-cleveland.com, free) came with a price tag of $875,000. Today, it would be impossible to replicate. This absolutely breathtaking Victorian-style atrium flaunts a 300-foot-long, 100-foot-high skylight comprised of 1,800 panes of glass. A well-executed $60 million renovation in 1999 repurposed much of the space into the Hyatt Regency at The Arcade.
Most Controversial Pop Art: Love it or loathe it, the Free Stamp (Williard Park, E. 9th St. and Lakeside Ave.) never fails to incite an opinion. Sure, artist Claes Oldenburg’s 30-foot-tall faux rubber stamp is silly bordering on ridiculous. But the fact that we’re still discussing it after all these years has to account for something.
Most Iconic Bridge Art: The art deco statues carved into the 43-foot sandstone pylons of the Hope Memorial Bridge (connects Carnegie Ave. and Lorain Ave. where they cross the Cuyahoga River, free) are fondly referred to as the “guardians of traffic.” Eight separate figures stand sentry at either end of the mile-long bridge, making even the worst commute a little bit easier to stomach.
Best-Sounding History Lesson: If all school was as entertaining as this “school of rock,” there would be no more truancy. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., 216/781-7625, www.rockhall.com, Thurs.–Tues. 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Wed. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. $22 adult, $13 child, $17 senior, free 8 and under) boasts a dizzying kaleidoscope of rock memorabilia, both familiar and obscure.
Best Way to Get to Know Cleveland: Longtime guide and gregarious host Karl C. Johnson makes a living showing curious visitors the ins and outs of C-Town. His enlightening and entertaining two-hour Walking Tours of Cleaveland (1501 N. Marginal Rd., Ste. 181, 216/575-1189, By appt., $60 up to four people, $15 additional person), named for city founder Moses Cleaveland, cover all facets of local history, architecture, politics, and sports.
Most Famous Church: Tremont is well known for its panoply of architecturally stunning churches, but only one was prominently featured in the Academy Award–winning film The Deer Hunter. The 13 onion-shaped domes atop St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral (733 Starkweather Ave., 216/741-1310, www.sttheodosius.org) hover like a battalion of faded copper weather balloons.
Best Old World Grocery Store: Other cities have grand old public markets; too bad most of them have replaced the actual food stalls with shops selling T-shirts and candles. At Ohio City’s beloved West Side Market (1979 W. 25th St., 216/664-3387, www.westsidemarket.com, Mon. and Wed. 7 a.m.–4 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 7 a.m.–6 p.m.), people actually shop — for pork, halibut, sausage, pierogies, tomatoes, and everything in between. Look up at the barrel-vaulted ceiling and you’ll forget everything on your shopping list.
Most Extreme Makeover: Art fans pretty much had to go cold turkey waiting for the Cleveland Museum of Art (11150 East Blvd., 216/421-7340, www.clevelandart.org, Tues., Thurs., and Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Wed. and Fri. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Free) to reopen following a three-year renovation of its 1912 main building. The lovingly restored space somehow manages to make the impressive art collection look even better.
Best Show of Homes: In the early 1900s, Cleveland’s rich and famous employed the architect hotshots of the day to build stately homes in the Fairmount Boulevard District (Fairmount Blvd. from Cedar Rd. to Wellington Rd.) in Cleveland Heights. Park your ride and take a stroll past Georgian mansions, terra cotta–clad Italian villas, and wildly asymmetrical Tudor Revivals.
Finest Final Resting Place: Yes, people are dying to get into Lake View Cemetery (12316 Euclid Ave., 216/421-2665, www.lakeviewcemetery.com, Daily 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Free), and you should be, too. This 290-acre oasis on the border of Cleveland Heights is equal parts botanical garden, history lesson, and alfresco art gallery. Approximately 400,000 people visit the grounds each year, many to gander at Wade Chapel’s Tiffany interior.
© Douglas Trattner from Moon Cleveland, 1st Edition