No longer a “large” city.

A few years back, Cleveland’s population dipped just below the threshold generally used to refer to a city as being “large.” Now we are “mid-sized,” which brings positives and negatives. I’ve long been a Cleveland cheerleader; as with many “boomerangs,” I admit I didn’t realize how much I loved Cleveland and how much it had to offer until I moved away, to Los Angeles. After a little over a year, for more reasons than I can count, I couldn’t wait to get back. It’s been mostly a love affair ever since, though there’s also been some hate-filled swear words during the winter months – as with any relationship, it’s not all sunshine and roses – literally.

This morning I arrived at work earlier than usual, as I didn’t have to take my son to school since they’re closed today and so he’s spending the day with Dad, who works for a company that also closes on Good Friday. As I had extra time, I decided to head up to Pour Cleveland, a sort of hipster coffee bar I’ve been wanting to check out since they opened several weeks ago. I don’t normally buy a lot of coffee out; we have free coffee at work, and though it’s not fantastic, it’s free. On the weekends, I brew my own big pots, which fuel my frenzied activities of cleaning, shopping, cooking, and trying generally to keep up with a very active 5-year-old boy in my somewhat broken, mid-40s body. So coffee is important. Sometimes if I’m out somewhere on the weekends and need to refuel, I’ll get coffee out. I try hard to patronize locally-owned shops when I can, so I will hit a Phoenix or Root Cafe or whatever is around where I’m traveling. Desperate times have even had me drinking Speedway coffee, which is drinkable for gas station coffee, and cheap.

I loved Pour and got some goodies to bring back to the office, which, predictably, have sat mostly uneaten, due to the plethroa of perpetually-dieting, gluten-free, etc. people I work with, though a few did sample the brewnuts, because beer and doughnuts, how can you go wrong? I was thinking how great it is that we have a shop like this and then marveled as I walked, with a bounce in my step (and before one sip of coffee!), about how we really have it great here and many people don’t realize it – there were numerous open parking meter spaces I saw on my walk back, and I was thinking how if this was Chicago, you’d be thrilled to find a place only a block away from such a gem of a place. Then I thought, yeah, a LOT of open parking spaces. And there were only a couple of customers in the coffee shop, whereas by the time I got to my building, in which there is a Starbucks, there was a long line of people. This brings on so many mixed feelings for me. Why are there not more people living here? Why are they not going out of their way to patronize this locally-owned coffee shop, instead of sending their money to Seattle? Convenience, sure, and time, which is usually my concern, absolutely. And I know downtown apartments and condos are mostly filled, which is great, but there’s so little foot traffic downtown sometimes that it makes me sad. It is so blatantly obvious when there is a sports game going on, because that’s almost the only time that Cleveland really looks like a real city to me, with lots of people walking all over downtown, businesses of all types bustling with activity, and a really diverse cross-section of people on the sidewalks. I wish it was like this every day. I wish more people knew how awesome Cleveland was and wanted to move here, to visit places like Pour or to take advantage of the fantastic resource that is our beautiful downtown library, or the Friday farmer’s market, or any number of great restaurants, bars, to walk or run the mall or the lakefront trailway.

Sometimes I yearn for the bustle of a place like New York, where there are ALWAYS people on the street and where, everywhere you go, you see a little shop or store or restaurant and think, “ooh, what’s THAT, I want to make a note to come back there when I have time.” Or the bustle of evenings in West Hollywood, where people can shop at retail stores late into the evening, where people are enjoying cocktails and patio dining at place after place after place, with tons of choices and the sound of laughter in the air.

I want that for us.

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2 thoughts on “No longer a “large” city.

  1. The “shrinking city” phenomenon (as it relates to the rust belt) has fascinated me for a long time. I truly believe that once manufacturing and heavy industry started shedding jobs, that is when people started moving out. (along with subsequent generations). Also, sprawl into the suburbs and exurbs served to reduce the population numbers of Cleveland proper.

    • It’s true for many cities. Mansfield was just listed among the cities shrinking fastest in a USA Today article, and it’s all because of manufacturing jobs. The jobs aren’t coming back in small cities like that, even in other industries. But I do think they can and might (will?) to some extent in larger cities like Cleveland.

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