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This Dying City
February 7, 2008 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Cleveland is dying, and it is beautiful. A collection of stark photographs of Cleveland as it is dying before our very eyes.
posted by Jazznoisehere (117 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Click on "Back to the Show!" and then click on the individual pieces of trash on the sidewalk. Then send an email to the designer and tell him a few things about intuitive interface design.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:57 PM on February 7, 2008 [11 favorites]


And that's not even right. Wait until the "Cleaveland is dying" phrase comes up, and click on that.

Yeesh.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:58 PM on February 7, 2008


Frustrating site navigation. I gave up after only a few "clicks."
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2008


Or, what Dave Faris just said!
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2008


Um... I could only find one stark photograph of Cleveland as it dies. I did find a lot of shots of hip 20 somethings though.
posted by dazed_one at 1:00 PM on February 7, 2008


I love the aesthetics of urban decay just as much at the next upper-lower-middle class guy. But regrettably, these pictures just aren't all that good. Regrettably.
posted by milarepa at 1:00 PM on February 7, 2008


The payoff is definitely not worth the wait. The photos could be of any US inner city, and they're not even good depictions of urban decay.
posted by item at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2008


Great concept, but the pictures, alas, just aren't that great.
posted by googly at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2008


Note to artist types: the use of FlashTM for navigational purposes is a bad idea.

(Supersedes all previous warnings from 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007)
posted by jsavimbi at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2008 [14 favorites]


I gave up after about a minute. Why can't many photographers come up with a website that doesn't make me roll my eyes?
posted by Justinian at 1:02 PM on February 7, 2008


Nevermind. Thanks for the heads up, Faris. What a terrible site design.
posted by dazed_one at 1:02 PM on February 7, 2008


I really liked both sets of photos - cleveland and the snapshots. And I really liked the interface. Thanks, jazznoisehere.

is from toledo, also.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:03 PM on February 7, 2008


Cleveland is dying, and it is beautiful.

Is Cleveland dying beautiful, or is Cleveland beautiful?
posted by mrnutty at 1:03 PM on February 7, 2008


This reminds me of that stretch of urban decay between Hoboken and Jersey City.
posted by monospace at 1:03 PM on February 7, 2008


Wow, so everyone else hated the interface. Guess I'm weird.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:04 PM on February 7, 2008


Also, I knew Drew Carey was lying when he said Cleveland rocks.
posted by mrnutty at 1:05 PM on February 7, 2008


And that's not even right. Wait until the "Cleaveland is dying" phrase comes up, and click on that.

Don't forget to allow pop-ups after you do this.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:05 PM on February 7, 2008


So where is the dying? You find a place where no one is right at that second, and that means dying?

Or, what everyone else said.
posted by Mister_A at 1:06 PM on February 7, 2008


Frustrating site navigation. I gave up after only a few "clicks."

I didn't find it that complicated. I realize design can be frustrating, but this was fairly straight forward. You just have to wait for the 'splash' screen to finish and then navigating through the images is easy.

The pictures themselves were pretty dull. You could probably take pictures like that in almost any city.
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on February 7, 2008


It's like Myst!
posted by mr_roboto at 1:06 PM on February 7, 2008 [12 favorites]


One of the best things about Cleveland is that CLE is a Continental hub, so you can get almost anywhere in the US direct, or maybe with one connection. And the 'subway' runs there!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:07 PM on February 7, 2008


I think he'd get better photos if he gave up the 'urban decay' thing and just went for semi-abstract geometrical forms, which seems to be what he's drawn to. Cleveland here doesn't seem to be dying so much as it's stepped out for a smoke and will be back in a minute.
posted by echo target at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2008 [10 favorites]


If i wasn't such a nice guy I would say something along the lines of, "this photog seems like a fucking emo pussy." However, I am nice*, and I will not say that.


*Nice is different from good.
posted by Mister_A at 1:13 PM on February 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Direct url to the Cleveland is Dying gallery.

Flash sucks as a navigational tool.
posted by iconomy at 1:16 PM on February 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why does it take so long to get in to the pictures? Don't you know this city is dying? I don't have time to enable popups...
posted by pupdog at 1:16 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wanted to love it, but it would not let me. All I got was a busted ipod... I just don't understand these intertubes. What I really wanted to say was
posted by Duncan at 1:16 PM on February 7, 2008


mr_roboto: "It's like Myst!"

*click*

No. Myst was cool.

*click*

This is just annoying me.

*click*

*click*
posted by ZachsMind at 1:18 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um... I could only find one stark photograph of Cleveland as it dies. I did find a lot of shots of hip 20 somethings though.

hip 20 somethings are killing Cleveland!
posted by eckeric at 1:18 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Meh. I mean, they're good photos, but I could take photos of dumpy places in Manhattan or Toronto, two places that sure ain't dying.

Plus Cleveland has Errors on its Splash Page and it is Not Beautiful.
posted by GuyZero at 1:19 PM on February 7, 2008


Flickr: The Urban Decay Pool.
posted by ericb at 1:20 PM on February 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


If there is beauty to be seen here, the photographer failed to capture it. The photos are boring and unoriginal.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:20 PM on February 7, 2008


Interface sucked. Had to give up trying. Are there actual photographs on the site somewhere?
posted by rocket88 at 1:23 PM on February 7, 2008


...but I could take photos of dumpy places in Manhattan or Toronto, two places that sure ain't dying.

As did this Canadian urban planner/designer: New York, Toronto, elsewhere.
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on February 7, 2008


Direct url to the Cleveland is Dying gallery.

Thanks, iconomy. And yeah, the photos stink. And Pat's in the Flats, at least when I lived in Cleveland not too long ago, is not a good example of Cleveland's dying.
posted by amro at 1:23 PM on February 7, 2008


You obviously you can't tell the city is dying from these pics because they're taken during the day while the zombies are sleeping.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:25 PM on February 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wait until the "Cleaveland is dying" phrase comes up, and click on that.

Don't forget to allow pop-ups after you do this.


FROM HELL'S HEART I STAB AT THEE! FOR HATE'S SAKE I SPIT MY LAST BREATH AT THEE!
posted by Krrrlson at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


You know, I'm from Cleveland, and if you wanna see some spectacular urban decay, it's there. It's too bad this guy didn't take pictures of any of it. It might help if he weren't apparently afraid to go anywhere where he might encounter a person (that is, who wasn't a white, tattooed hipster; i.e., almost certainly someone from the suburbs).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2008


I didn't figure out the navigation was straightforward until I realized the image on the splash page actually does something. SKIP BUTTON. STAT.

That said, I actually like the photos. I agree that they don't necessarily reflect the point, but they're good photographs of old things.
posted by katillathehun at 1:27 PM on February 7, 2008


bah, these are mostly industrial areas that don't have any people in them anyway.

This is real urban decay.

TPAA:
One of the best things about Cleveland is that CLE is a Continental hub, so you can get almost anywhere in the US direct, or maybe with one connection.


When I used to live in Pittsburgh, I would cringe every time a city booster proudly declared that because we were a US Air hub, it was exceedingly easy to leave.
posted by xthlc at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


whew! thanks iconomy!

But, yeah- that's just about any place flat in America, decaying or otherwise.

Decay in hilly/mountainous places seems to take different form.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:32 PM on February 7, 2008


(xthlc ftw.)
posted by small_ruminant at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2008


Another Flickr Set: Paterson NJ is dying, and it's even more beautiful.

And I thought the other set on the FPP's target site said "Lomo Snog Shots" but I didn't see any snogging!!
posted by not_on_display at 1:37 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


xthl: Yeah, that was fully my intent in making the statement!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:37 PM on February 7, 2008


I spent some time living in Cleveland. If you want to see evidence of it dying, try going downtown on a non-game night.

Or check out the 17,000 vacant foreclosed homes.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:38 PM on February 7, 2008


And I thought the other set on the FPP's target site said "Lomo Snog Shots" but I didn't see any snogging!!

Hah! So did I!
posted by katillathehun at 1:39 PM on February 7, 2008


There's a mouseover that says, "The art is smart!" Well, that may be so, but the site is dumb. Having no indication on what bits of detritus you can actually click on is like those irritating little puzzle games.
posted by notsnot at 1:42 PM on February 7, 2008


xthlc: When I used to live in Pittsburgh, I would cringe every time a city booster proudly declared that because we were a US Air hub, it was exceedingly easy to leave.

Not a problem anymore, we're no longer a hub so it's freaking impossible to get a flight out of Pittsburgh. Nice airport though.
posted by octothorpe at 1:42 PM on February 7, 2008


I liked it, well after clicking on iconomy's link. It is sad to see what is happening in Cleveland. The home foreclosure and abandonment rate is scary and could easily turn Cleveland into another Detroit, an essentially salvageable city.
posted by caddis at 1:51 PM on February 7, 2008


Who's bashin' The Cleve?
posted by saladin at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2008


I waited for the dramatic text to finish loading in the picture.

I told my browser to allow a pop-up.

I clicked the picture.

I received a slideshow gallery.

I used my scrollwheel to navigate the pics, which worked fairly easily.

I saw pics of run-down inner-city areas and wondered what it would cost to bring them back to some kind of glory, perhaps with gluts of co-op happy artists and numerous urban gardens.

I came back here to see what it made everyone else think about and felt both pleased at my ability to go with the flow using non-standard navigation and irritated that the Flash barrier once again ruined (what may have been) an interesting conversation. Or, conversely, more bitching about how everyone else takes better pics.

I dunno.
posted by batmonkey at 1:57 PM on February 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


thanks for the url that made it easy for a dolt like me.
I have pics of "My grandmother is dying, and it is beautiful" which I plan to post. Or should I simply call it Urban Decay?
posted by Postroad at 1:57 PM on February 7, 2008


I, too, shall diss the interface and the quality of the photography. Took me a few tries to find the shit, and once I did, yeah, it's not all that. Pictures without people in them ≠ dying. It looks pleasantly peaceful, really, like the kind of town where somebody could afford to buy a house. Good golly... over 4,500 3+ bedroom houses for ≤ $100K... they don't look like gutted burned-out shells.
posted by mumkin at 1:58 PM on February 7, 2008


Aside from the terrible interface and pedestrian photography, Cleveland doesn't even look that dead. It looks like every other East Coast city I've been to: dirty, ill-kept, no one lives downtown.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 2:03 PM on February 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Cleveland native here. Some neighborhoods are bad but not DETROIT bad... I mean, hell, no one's suggesting we turn major portions of downtown into farmland or anything.

Last week some French wire correspondent got Shaker Heights (posh, though used to be posher, inner-ring suburb) confused with Mt. Pleasant, a (well, not as nice) section of Cleveland and wrote a big story about Shaker Heights falling apart and having about a zillion foreclosures and la la la. He and his boss ended up apologizing for the mistake.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:05 PM on February 7, 2008


I found it irritating as hell that he chose to take pictures of hipster shitheads at his favorite happenin' bar.

Go to Brooklyn sometime. Every second, somewhere in Brooklyn some Pratt fuckface in skinny jeans is putting together a scrapbook of over/undersaturated decaying city pictures.
posted by nasreddin at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


This actually makes me want to move to Cleveland. Then again I do live in Trenton, NJ so maybe I like urban decay...
posted by ob at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2008


Ah jeez. I finally figured out the interface so I could see ALL the photos and all I have to say is this: fucking Tremont hipster.

[note for non-Clevelanders: Tremont is a section of Cleveland that has been overrun with twee little art galleries and hipster restaurants and people who bitch when the steel plant next door rains toxic crap all over their new hybrid car -- judging from where the vast majority of those photos were taken, the dude's probably never ventured beyond the edge o' Tremont and the Flats]

Bummer, because Cleveland has a lot to offer, photographically.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:11 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


As is Pittsburgher, I'm constitutionally obligated to hate on Cleveland but those are pretty tame examples of urban decay. I could spend an hour with my camera within walking distance of my house and get worse looking shots than that.
posted by octothorpe at 2:14 PM on February 7, 2008


What is it with photographers and web site navigation? Is there some inability shared by people who collate images to develop a method where they can be displayed cohesively?
This is not only up-its-self, its first-year art-school-up-its-self.

The post on Detroit a few weeks back was really well done
posted by mattoxic at 2:16 PM on February 7, 2008


The linked website is dying.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:22 PM on February 7, 2008


Ah jeez. I finally figured out the interface so I could see ALL the photos and all I have to say is this: fucking Tremont hipster.

Ah hah! Yeah, I probably would have seen that if I'd been able to get past the browser-befuddling first image of the late-twenties goth grrrl. And yeah, you're right -- most if not all of the "urban decay" pictures are from the Flats and nearby environs. (If he's feeling really adventurous, the projects are right there, you know...so why do I have a feeling we won't be seeing a portfolio of them?)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:30 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cleveland and a number of cities are dying but thetaxrebate should stimulate awesome growth soon.
posted by Postroad at 2:32 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


All I can get to is a single animated Flash thingy that says "Cleveland is dying, and it is beautiful." Clicking on it doesn't do anything. Enabling JS just gives me a white square.

What the fuck is wrong with photographers that makes them think everyone else's idea of how to design a good website is wrong, and obviously they know better?

Ugh. I was really looking forward to seeing it, too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:34 PM on February 7, 2008


I'm from Cleveland and all I can say about this photo essay is this:

1) I could find any number of old industrial/vacant lots anywhere around the country that look like this;

2) Cleveland is shrinking, I don't disagree about that: the photos in this essay are utterly useless in trying to show that.

If the author wanted to show a dying city, he should have walked around the desolation of abandoned neighborhoods and show them compared to 60 years ago. THAT would show the contrast.

Oh, and until county and city government get its head out of its collective ass, Cleveland is going to continue its downward spiral. Someone needs to explain to me why they haven't been out there pounding the pavement and whoreing out the city to bring in new business. At this point, what the hell else do we have to lose?
posted by tgrundke at 2:46 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is one of those "I found your camera" things, isn't it?
posted by nzero at 2:48 PM on February 7, 2008


I wonder if Cleveland really is dying? Or is it just downtown Cleveland? The US population continues to expand - these people have to live somewhere. We all know that most professionals now live in the 'burbs and exurbs that ring the cities. While the ugly, dirty industrial cities are declining, the suburbs, with their 'knowledge workers' who often don't even need to work in the urban core anymore, are thriving.

But these photos really speak of vacancy, rather than urban death or 'rewilding'. The photo album of hipsters is really, really embarrassing.

But at least the photog has mastered the fundamentals. Next comes art.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:56 PM on February 7, 2008


Some photographers have non-lame websites. Usually they pay someone else for hosting, because that means someone else can focus on making a non-lame website while the photographer is out with the cameras, working on photography.

I think making that choice is part of gaining artistic focus: I want to get better at X, so I'll pay someone else to do Y. If you haven't learned that lesson, getting better at X is rather more difficult.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:03 PM on February 7, 2008


Meta Filter Auto-Go-Ape-shit-Hate-Fetish Checklist:

Flash Interface I didn't take 30 seconds to understand? Check.

"Hipsters? What ever they are." Check.

Tight jeans? Check.

...

**Trigger preprogrammed response**

HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE... etc

posted by tkchrist at 3:04 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think that "Lomo Snaps" section just gave me an STD.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:04 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the looks of this guy's photos, Cleveland can learn a lot about dying a photogenic death from Detroit. Certainly no book phoenix here. C'mon Cleveland! Step up!
posted by Afroblanco at 3:09 PM on February 7, 2008


SpiffyRob writes "Or check out the 17,000 vacant foreclosed homes."

Interesting. There's at least 34K people involved, if we consider at least 2 person for each home as a conservative estimate. With a population of 480K in year 2000 ,215K housing units (2000) it close to a 10% vacant.

But
Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, has about 17,000 vacant foreclosed properties — roughly 4 percent of its 395,000 houses. Baltimore has 16,000, up from 12,300 in 2000
Which doesn't give a correct idea of how many of these 17K prop are in Cleveland. 4 percent may sound more like frictional vacancy, but I don't have any other estimate to compare with and assert it's perfectly "normal" in the statistic sense of the word.

On a tangent, the constant whineing of RIAA and MPAA suggest me banks may be doing exactly the same by producing numbers of "lost revenues due to foreclosures" that just don't reflect the situation, as much as RIAA/MPAA cry about losing billions of revenue they wouldn't have obtained, but in their wildest dreams.
posted by elpapacito at 3:10 PM on February 7, 2008


This is real urban decay.

Yeah. Detroit has some areas that look like you JUST missed the RPG detonation. You half expect craters from mortar rounds in what little is left of the streets and guys in Hezbollah scarves shooting AK-47's around corners. It can be that bleak.
posted by tkchrist at 3:11 PM on February 7, 2008


What bitter-girl said. I'm a 20 something who happens to run a neighborhood website for Tremont [where many of the pics are from; if you turn around in a lot of them, the next pic you'd take would be of a $450k townhome]. Cleveland isn't dying, it's just like a dude who lost a ton of weight really quickly and then his clothes don't fit no more.

Pat's in the Flats [on page 3 or 4 of the slideshow] is the most authentically Cleveland place in town. Here's what it looks like on the inside.

That photoset is way over the top.
posted by sciurus at 3:22 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, elpapacito, if you'd like to know more about how foreclosure is affecting Cleveland, I suggest you go here: Callahan's Cleveland Diary.
posted by sciurus at 3:24 PM on February 7, 2008


DOES NOT WORK AT ALL IN IE7

Some people are far too good for Flickr. Some people deserve their own interface, complete with awful, mangled Flash and an interface that no one can navigate without reversing their trachea.

This is not the Cleveland that The Modern Dance promised me. I don't even see any pictures of dub housing.
posted by koeselitz at 3:24 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


CLEVELAND is dying?!? What about ST. LOUIS? (warning, self promotion, cough cough).
posted by jettloe at 3:25 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yep, most of these photos are within walking distance of Tremont, Cleveland's yuppie/hipster enclave--and a nice neighborhood (and where I'm guessing he lives). The thing is, if he went a few miles west on Clark Ave., he'd see some real urban decay--boarded up storefronts, overgrown lawns, and miles of run down houses. But it's not beautiful. It's depressing.
posted by Kronoss at 3:27 PM on February 7, 2008


Leave Cleveland Aloooone! [sob]
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:28 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cleveland has allegedly been dying ever since I went to Case Western Reserve in the 80s. The lower ninth ward of New Orleans has managed to do it in just two years. Poor bastards.
posted by kebnabi at 3:30 PM on February 7, 2008


A friend from Cleveland explained to me it was DNA level C spelled backwards. Almost as good as Tulsa.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:36 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Just to clarify: I misread what bitter-girl said; what I meant to say was that those are clearly Tremont hipsters. You can just kinda...tell. There's a slight urban edge, but it doesn't quite cover up the milk-fed look of growing up in the 'burbs.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:46 PM on February 7, 2008


USA Today | 12/27/2006 : As Older Cities Shrink, Some Reinvent Themselves
"'Everybody's talking about smart growth, but nobody is talking about smart decline,' says Terry Schwarz, senior planner at Kent State University's Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio. The center runs the Shrinking Cities Institute in Cleveland, a city that has lost more than half its population since 1950. 'There's nothing that says that a city that has fewer people in it has to be a bad place.'"
posted by ericb at 3:55 PM on February 7, 2008


2007 Cleveland Design Competition.
posted by ericb at 4:01 PM on February 7, 2008


sciurus writes "I suggest you go here: Callahan's Cleveland Diary"

Which contains the elephant in the room, I guess
Almost all of the people involved in the transactions made huge amounts of money, then passed the risk onto someone else. Instead of keeping the dicey loans in their own portfolios, the big banks and giant mortgage companies that originally underwrote them, resold the mortgages to big New York investment houses.

Firms like Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch sliced the loans into little pieces and packaged them up with other investments, then sold them to their best customers around the world as high-yield mortgage-backed securities, turning sows’ ears into silk purses, all with the blessing of rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s.

“At every step in the way, somebody has his or her hand out, getting paid. And everyone, for the time, is happy. The broker got paid. He or she was happy. The lending officer, ditto. The rating agencies got paid for passing judgment on these securities. They, too, were pleased, and their stockholders were happy. And on and on. And it would never end, except that it did,” Grant says.
Yep, sounds about right. A parallel in my country, with some banks propping Parmalat private bonds and Argentinian titles , selling them as if they were manna to unsuspecting moneysavers and wannabe getrichquick schemers with no financial maths education.

Here some interesting article on the dynamics of the sale, no math needed , but a touch of naivity is required
2. Banks must take more responsibility.

When a bank touches a toxic loan, it should be held accountable for irresponsible lending. This is true even if the bank didn't originate the loan and even if the bank sold it off.
Ahahaahah a limited liability company taking responsability :D ! I LOL'D

and something needs a little correction, even if iit does make some sense
4. Home ownership isn't for everyone.

Just because someone gets approved for a mortgage doesn't mean he or she can afford to own a home. The mortgage payment is only a part of the cost of home ownership.

The extras that homeowners are on the hook for can cost as much as 50 percent more than the mortgage payment. Property taxes, homeowner's insurance and mortgage insurance can total several hundred dollars a month, even on a modest home.
BIG home ownership, expensive home ownership isn't for everyone. Second home ownership as well. There's something weak in an economic system that doesn't let you rent/buy a couple a home with their work in their lifetime, as the system isn't letting you capitalize for your offspring or give them a slightly better life than yours, or security they will not have to struggle to get a roof over their head, a struggle only the ones who experienced directly understand from an emotional point of view.
posted by elpapacito at 4:06 PM on February 7, 2008


you scared me, I thought they had written the black guy off Family Guy
posted by matteo at 4:12 PM on February 7, 2008


matteo writes "I thought they had written the black guy off Family Guy"

That would be slightly less worse than cancelling Futurama, but a lot better than knowing this asshole was still alive.
posted by elpapacito at 4:19 PM on February 7, 2008


This guy should take a drive down I-77 to Akron or Canton some time.
posted by slogger at 4:21 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dying? No.

It's already dead.
posted by bhance at 4:39 PM on February 7, 2008


Cleveland may be dying, but I live like a frickin' king here on what wouldn't get me a studio in Red Hook these days. I have a fun, easy, creative job; my work is seen around the world; I paid 200K for a house that would go for 2 million in LA; I have bright, cultured, famous friends; Winter is grey, but Northeast Ohio has the sweetest summers in the world. Meanwhile, in the sucker cities of NY and LA, people with twice as much brains and talent as me are temping at insurance agencies and sharing one bedrooms with four roomates, all for the privilege of... well, you know what I'm talking about. In any case, the real quality of life here is incredible. Even the ghetto is nice (compare: Trenton, NJ).
posted by Faze at 4:45 PM on February 7, 2008


The cost of living in Cleveland is great; we had a fantastic house for pennies. Good luck getting by without a car, though, and the symphony is amazing but the theater is lacking. Clevelanders know how to eat, at least.

As for the pictures themselves - they show empty industrial areas, but in Cleveland that could just mean the photographer was out on a Saturday. I would be more interested in the 'dying' residential areas (which have apparently declined even more in the 2 years since I've been there) - like the bombed-out neighborhoods around the Clinic.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:57 PM on February 7, 2008


Cleveland may be dying, but I live like a frickin' king here on what wouldn't get me a studio in Red Hook these days. I have a fun, easy, creative job

Uh...yeah, but most people in Cleveland don't have that. Believe me, if I could make there what I am here in Virginia, I too would be having the cheap holiday in other people's misery you speak of.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:15 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


If only this was actually a Harvey Pekar project, that might be interesting.
posted by pupdog at 5:34 PM on February 7, 2008


Usually just the weak parts die.
posted by Hildago at 5:35 PM on February 7, 2008


bitter-girl.com's got it right: Tremont hipster who thinks it's - oooh - edgy and scary to go down in the Flats. Those pictures are just general uban industrial photos, and most of the places featured look like they're still in operation. Don't get me wrong: if you want urban decay in Cleveland, you can certainly find it, but most of the real decay isn't within walking distance of chic restaurants and good music venues. But, you know, I bet there are bits of Euclid Ave. or St. Clair or heck, even Lorain on the West Side this guy wouldn't even drive through - let alone the really bad neighborhoods.

Cleveland really is photogenic, too, particularly if you're into industrial stuff: dear god, all the gorgeous bridges over and in the Flats! I'm sorta amazed this guy managed to get such boring photos out of the available material. I've been wandering around taking pictures of, yeah, urban industrial and urban decay stuff whenever I'm back in town, and damn if I don't have a webpage full of more interesting-looking stuff than this.

(And bitter-girl.com - there was an article in Der Spiegel about the sub-prime loan thing, with a sub-article about Cleveland's foreclosure crisis at the heart of it. Can't access it for free anymore (it was "Kultur der Gier" on 11.26), but they illustrated it with moody shots over the steel mill... It's really hilarious reading about Cleveland in the international media.)
posted by ubersturm at 5:35 PM on February 7, 2008


re: "smart decline" -- rescuing kalamazoo:
KALAMAZOO, a medium-sized post-industrial city in Michigan, shares the problems of countless such others across America. Its population is shrinking and its poverty rate hovers around 30%. But in November 2005 it received good news: in an effort to revitalise the city, anonymous donors would pay the college tuition fees of every graduate from Kalamazoo's public schools.

The so-called “Kalamazoo Promise” made national headlines, a change for a city used to insisting that its name isn't a joke. Some 80 towns and districts have contacted Kalamazoo to learn about the promise—and a few have even copied it.

The programme's central premise is that investing in human capital helps to ensure a town's economic future. The offer of free education, Kalamazoo enthusiasts hope, will retain middle-class residents and attract new ones, tighten the housing market and help the city to lure businesses that are keen to take advantage of a new skilled workforce. This attention to the labour supply, says Tim Bartik, an economist at Kalamazoo's Upjohn Institute, is a markedly different approach from the more usual one of tax incentives. [cf.]
also btw redesign the white house :P oh and "it's hard to rebuild it!"
posted by kliuless at 5:54 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a red moon rising
On the Cuyahoga River
Rolling into Cleveland to the lake...
Cleveland, city of light, city of magic...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:04 PM on February 7, 2008


CLEVELAND is dying?!? What about ST. LOUIS? (warning, self promotion, cough cough).
posted by jettloe at 4:25 PM on February 7 [+] [!]


[No Photos Found]
posted by Eekacat at 6:10 PM on February 7, 2008


Looks like those abandoned cities near the Chernobyl accident.
posted by wastelands at 6:19 PM on February 7, 2008


Thats the cleanest decaying city I've ever seen.
posted by dr_dank at 6:29 PM on February 7, 2008


You can photos like these in most cities, dying or not.
posted by swift at 6:44 PM on February 7, 2008


*take
posted by swift at 6:44 PM on February 7, 2008


Aren't these just Half Life screenshots?
posted by neuron at 7:20 PM on February 7, 2008


octothorpe:
I could spend an hour with my camera within walking distance of my house and get worse looking shots than that.

Great, now you're making me miss Pittsburgh.

Seriously, it is one very shabby and yet handsome city. Like a 55-year-old former beauty queen who's lived hard but takes care of herself these days and wears her scars well.

Here's one of my favorite photos.
posted by xthlc at 7:34 PM on February 7, 2008


Anthony Bourdain did a Cleveland show. the highlight for me was watching him eat the leftover "creamy filling" from rusty pipes in the abandoned Twinkie factory.
posted by killy willy at 7:37 PM on February 7, 2008


Sorry, but as a connoisseur of urban decay, I gotta say that Cleveland - as shown here, anyway - just doesn't make the grade. Not old enough, and not decayed enough. I can show you an 1840's mill with the roof burned off. It's probably be knocked down in a couple of years, when the city can find the money. I can show you an 1860s cathedral that the Church couldn't afford to keep, and the city had to step in to stabilize the thing before it fell on the neighbors. THAT'S urban decay. These are empty streetscapes.

Want urban decay? Try some of the mill towns of New England or New York. The industrial buildings here on the east coast have been abandoned-and-falling-into-ruin since before Cleveland was settled.

Oh, and the interface was crap: crappy enough that the photos were improved by the contrast.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 7:46 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


maybe not as shown here, but trust me, Cleveland is in trouble, and it is painful. yeah, I am from a neighboring state where they call Cleveland the Mistake on the Lake. ha ha, that is just like one ugly kid calling another ugly kid unattractive. Cleveland is a pretty cool city. I have spent some serious time there on business and it was quite rewarding. I loved the place. I know how these things go though, and the boarded up houses are like a cancer and that cancer is a rather fast spreading one. One day your grandpa is fine, the next he is not breathing well and the cancer has spread, and then a few days later it has affected his brain, and then mercifully, his heart and then it is over. That is how it goes for cities as well. This scares me for Cleveland. I hope and pray that they go a different way. I don't have a strong connection here, other than the frequent business trips, but some guy in Cleveland made this engine that I had in a car a few decades ago, and I will tell you that most of you have never had such a powerful and wonderful engine in any of your vehicles, ever. OK, that is a thin basis for rooting for a city. Whatever, go Cleveland, as long as you can......
posted by caddis at 8:15 PM on February 7, 2008


(compare: Trenton, NJ) Yay T-town! Somebody mentioned T-town!!
posted by ob at 8:30 PM on February 7, 2008


jettloe - awesome St. Louis photoset! We had a discussion a few weeks back about Detroit, and I thought I'd share some of my reflections on St. Louis.

Detroit gets a lot of attention because of it's dramatic fall, but what a lot of people don't know is that STL has lost 61% of its population since 1950. With that in mind, the desolation that is the North Side almost starts to make sense.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:58 PM on February 7, 2008


Cheers Afroblanco - I haven't lived in the U.S. for 10 years - and during my visit back was astonished by what I saw in St. Louis. Your comments in the Detroit post are spot on. Of course as a big fan of the Wire I walked around constantly saying 'gosh, this is JUST LIKE the Wire!'. I expected Omar to come rounding a corner any minute.
posted by jettloe at 9:31 PM on February 7, 2008


hello cleveland !
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:59 AM on February 8, 2008


Following a link I saw on Metafilter, I picked up a copy of House by Michael Ruhlman -- about his purchase and renovation of a house in Cleveland Heights.

It made me *really* want to live there.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:22 AM on February 8, 2008


tgrundke: Someone needs to explain to me why they haven't been out there pounding the pavement and whoreing out the city to bring in new business.

Cleveland's (and by extension, Cuyahoga County's) government pounding the pavement? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! You mean the pavement they clear of homeless dudes before they allow his Royal Mayorness to walk on it? Not even joking here: boyfriend works downtown and has witnessed this in action. God forbid the mayor should be aware there are real, live homeless people downtown! Or that he should leave whichever corner of his office he cowers in all week. Well, you know, unless someone he knows just got shot or something. Then it's all hands on deck media time! Someone call Carl Monday!

sciurus: I'm a 20 something who happens to run a neighborhood website for Tremont [where many of the pics are from; if you turn around in a lot of them, the next pic you'd take would be of a $450k townhome]

Hi sciurus! He's right, you know. A stone's throw from most of those photos = pricy new town homes. Check out the current front page over at Progressive Urban Real Estate (who, when I was house-shopping in 1997, pretty much ONLY had listings in Tremont and Ohio City, and who have since expanded because not everyone wants to live somewhere where calling the cops to complain about something nets you the response "Why don't you move to Bay Village, lady?"):
DEAL OF THE WEEK!
Tremont Commons
$90k LESS than the original list price!
Possibly be the BEST DEAL in NEW CONSTRUCTION in Northeast Ohio!
Originally priced at $339,000 these Town homes are now going for ONLY $249,900!
Large deck, large granite kitchen, hardwood floors fireplace, 2-car garage.
Kronoss: Yep, most of these photos are within walking distance of Tremont, Cleveland's yuppie/hipster enclave--and a nice neighborhood (and where I'm guessing he lives). The thing is, if he went a few miles west on Clark Ave., he'd see some real urban decay

I have a friend who lives around Clark and the W 50s -- she's been paying $300 for an entire house (rental) since she got out of art school. Her house is adorable, it used to be a butcher shop with living space in the back (the old butcher space is a great studio) but yeah, half the neighborhood is boarded up around her.

faze & kittens: Cleveland may be dying, but I live like a frickin' king here on what wouldn't get me a studio in Red Hook these days. I have a fun, easy, creative job

Uh...yeah, but most people in Cleveland don't have that. Believe me, if I could make there what I am here in Virginia, I too would be having the cheap holiday in other people's misery you speak of.


That's the kicker. If you've got a portable job making a salary that's higher than the Cleveland norm, you're rolling in clover. I own my own business and I write books, so I'm more or less in the same position as you (except I probably earn a hell of a lot less). If I went out to find a job job, I'd be lucky to pull down something in the low 30s -- a decline from 1999, when I was making nearly 40.

ubersturm: Tremont hipster who thinks it's - oooh - edgy and scary to go down in the Flats. Those pictures are just general uban industrial photos, and most of the places featured look like they're still in operation.

They are! I know this for a fact because when I was taking some test shots for my last book, we shot some of them around the back of the building with the CVS billboard in the picture. That building's still in operation and so are most of the others, too. For those of you who saw the Anthony Bourdain show in Cleveland, it's around the corner from Sokolowski's, the place he ate pierogi and stuff with Harvey Pekar.

PeterMcDermott: Following a link I saw on Metafilter, I picked up a copy of House by Michael Ruhlman -- about his purchase and renovation of a house in Cleveland Heights.

That's an interesting book and Ruhlman's got an interesting blog. The area of Cleveland Heights he lives in is full of big, old, expensive and exceedingly beautiful houses. When I worked for a software company with a German division, I used to take my German colleagues who came to town on driving excursions around there and they were uniformly shocked at how huge these single-family homes are. Though good luck affording the taxes in Heights. (Well, if you're from here, anyway. I suppose compared to any other large city, Heights' taxes would seem quite wee).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:22 AM on February 8, 2008


Meh pictures, but I believe it's dying. They've got a hellmouth, you know.

The one time I was in Cleveland, the river was on fire. I guess that's not a healthy sign.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:00 AM on February 8, 2008


Good Buffy reference, yellowbinder.

Judging from experience, I'd say the Hellmouth is centered under City Hall.

Oh, and for those of you who are following the "season 8" Buffy comic, in the (Cleveland-native) Brian K. Vaughan Faith story arc, he's got her sitting on top of the Hope Memorial Bridge "Guardians of Traffic"...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:36 AM on February 8, 2008


What bitter-girl said. I'm a 20 something who happens to run a neighborhood website for Tremont [where many of the pics are from; if you turn around in a lot of them, the next pic you'd take would be of a $450k townhome].

That's actually really similar to my experience here in Milwaukee. Roughly two blocks from where I live, there's a side of the street where I could take a picture of an abandoned tannery. What the picture wouldn't show you is that right across the street is a tannery that has been turned into expensive condos. Depending on how I took the picture, you also wouldn't see the really expensive condos being built directly across the river in what used to be the spot where coal was stored.
posted by drezdn at 9:21 AM on February 8, 2008


So drezdn, when is The Scarring Party coming to Cleveland to play at Pat's in the Flats? ;)
posted by sciurus at 9:48 AM on February 8, 2008


monospace, exactly what I was thinking!
I just sent you an email of a flickr set of snapshots I've got from there.
Cleveland may be dying, as others have said, but it has the rosy glow of health compared to a whole lot of other places I've lived before and even where I live now, if I were to judge the damage solely by these images. (And even though I don't think my city is dying, it is indeed very sad if Cleveland actually is.)
posted by stagewhisper at 4:52 PM on February 8, 2008


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