Take A Hike . . . Down Memory Lane
My Sunday started off earlier than usual this past weekend with a short drive to “the Flats” area of Cleveland to take a walking tour. When we arrived at the meeting spot–the Settler’s Landing RTA Station the east bank of the Cuyahoga River–there were already nearly 100 people waiting for the tour to begin. Now through September 6th, the “Take-A-Hike” free guided walking tours run on Thursdays at 6pm and Saturdays or Sundays at 10am.
The two–hour guided walk passed through and around the Flats’ many bridges, factories and warehouses. Highlights of the tour included the old Superior Viaduct and the Veterans Memorial Bridge. It was interesting to see how the old Viaduct was integrated into a neighborhood now filled with many new condos and offices. I also really enjoyed walking underneath the large bridges such as the Veterans Memorial and along the many swinging and moveable bridges on the Cuyahoga River like the Center Street Bridge. While we listened to our tour guide speak about historical Cleveland characters like Lorenzo Carter and John D. Rockefeller, a women portraying Mrs. Alfred Kelley walked up to our group and spoke about her husband. It turns out Kelley was the first president of the then Village of Cleveland, member of the Ohio House of Representatives, state senator and president of several railroad companies.
The last stop on the tour was the Flat Iron Cafe, the oldest Irish pub in Cleveland and opened in 1910. We almost went in for a drink, but it was only 11:45am and I had a long night only hours earlier so we decided to meet a friend in Little Italy for a delicious pizza and alcohol-free lunch at Presti’s instead.
In retrospect, the site that sparked my imagination the most on the tour was probably the most desolate of all the attractions/stops. ‘Irishtown Bend’ was a neighborhood from east of West 25th Street to the Cuyahoga River and north of Detroit Road. The swampy area was developed during early 1800s by immigrant Irish who came to the area as construction workers on the city’s railroads and canals. They soon formed a very close-knit neighborhood that was characterized by outcasts who lived in shacks. Life in Irishtown included long work days, drinking at the pub and religion (probably praying to get out). Through the years the neighborhood, including Whiskey Island, became known as “the Angle.” Currently, the whole area is now submerged by swamp and features a couple of abandoned roads. It’s a location that is full of history and is located right down the street from beautiful parks and condos; however right now it is so beleaguered it is reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic Hollywood movie set. This to me is strangely cool. But it won’t last. Someone will read this and just have to clean it up. Get ready for the Irishtown Bend Condos and Starbucks 2015!
Other tours include the Gateway Neighborhood tour that is every Thursday at 6pm and the Warehouse District Tour that is every Saturday at 1am. –Submitted by Wm. Mangano, intern