My piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer is up live. Below is an excerpt. Click here to read the piece in its entirety.
You see, back in the 1990s, there was a real belief Cleveland had turned the corner. There was the mall at the Galleria, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the mall at Tower City and Gateway. Even The New York Times caught the whiff. From a 1995 article titled “Mistake on the Lake Wakes Up, Roaring,” the author writes: “[T]he self-congratulation in Cleveland these days owes as much to the new face and new style of a city that for a long time had little panache.”
Fast forward a decade and the panache had lost its sheen: The national accolades were replaced with hard facts. “After an apparent rebound, city tops Census Bureau’s poverty list” reads a 2004 Associated Press article titled “Cleveland rated poorest big city in U.S.”
Fast forward another 10 years and here we go again. This time, some dueling pianos, a Toby Keith-themed country bar, a casino, a downtown forest of some sort and a hanging outdoor chandelier will help push us forward. Yet it’s hard to take such redevelopment efforts seriously, if only because they are focused on play.