Many of us who work in the city but live in the suburbs, find our way into the center of town each day along the well-traveled commuter routes. Most folks follow a freeway and avoid any close encounter with Cleveland's neighborhoods, the rest of us can drive downtown via one of the busy thoroughfares like Chester or Lorain Avenue, and curse the red-light cameras that interfere with our race with the minute hand toward our place of employment, or conversely back to the comfort of home and hearth.
Rarely will we venture off the main drag...Rumour has it, that could be dangerous.
As I make my daily trip from Cleveland Heights to Cleveland's near west side, part of my regular route to the Shoreway takes me through the east side neighborhoods of Cleveland along Eddy Road.
Lately, I have noticed more and more houses are being boarded up on the street, which is mostly residential. So this weekend I decided to take my camera on a little reconnaissance mission off my beaten path to see how the foreclosure crisis is affecting the Cleveland neighborhoods north of the Heights.
I drove around Glenville first, just a few blocks away from Case Western Reserve University, and was immediately struck by the number of commercial buildings that have been boarded. It appeared that far more storefronts are vacant than have businesses operating out of them.
The streets were very quiet Saturday morning as I traveled slowly up and down the blocks. The weather was bitter cold, so I stayed inside my car to take snap shots.
Several police cars raced past me, silently, while I sat curbside. I wondered what the hurry was at such an early hour. Driving around the corner to the next block, I found the answer to my question. About a dozen police cars surrounded a small boarded-up building. Officers, with guns drawn, scurried out of their vehicles. I paused mine a few moments to click the shutter a few times, then thought it prudent to move along.
What I saw as I drove up and down the side streets of Glenville and then South Collinwood, was truly heart rending. Some streets looked like ghost towns, filled with vacant houses. In only two hours my memory card was full. Nearly three hundred photographs of boarded-up houses.
Solid neighborhoods, busy with families decades ago, have been abandoned. Homes, once lovingly cared for, now scavenged by scrappers. The immensity of the problem has to be seen firsthand to be realized. And the experts say things will get worse before they get better.
How will my city ever recover?
This is a small sample of what I saw. Click on the photos above to enlarge the pictures.