Greenpoint, October, 2015

Sunday, May 1, 2011


My post yesterday about the manmade wonders of the Gowanus Canal brought back experiences with another city. In the very early eighties, I was a student at a small rural college in Ohio, eerily similar to Gary Shteyngart's Accidental College. My friend Kate and I got a little grant from the college to write a student's guide to Cleveland; the idea was to encourage students to take advantage of our nearest big city. Well, we did, spending a glorious summer driving in, going to rock clubs, exploring neighborhoods, eating and drinking--all on the college's dime. And we even finished the book (now extremely rare)!

As part of our research, we asked the college's professors and staff members to recommend places in Cleveland they liked. We got lots of recommendations for restaurants but the response that I remember, twenty-five years later, came from a professor of Russian/Soviet history Kate and I had both had and liked very much. As you drive across the overpass into Downtown Cleveland, she advised, be sure not to miss the spectacular "industrial landscape" that extended along the Cuyahoga River for miles in either direction--remnants of the city's heyday as a steel town. Now that's a professor you want to teach your children.

That amazing aerial photograph from 1954 is from the Cuyahoga River Online Collection at the Great Lakes Industrial History Center. Hey, where's the NYC Industrial History Center?!

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