Tennessee Williams wasn’t exactly being fair when he said, “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” It’s funny, yeah, and we kind of get what he’s saying, but there’s a lot going on in Cleveland. So while other cities might still need to work on getting themselves some character, Cleveland’s doing a decent job. Here are five reasons Cleveland is cooler than you (and Tennessee Williams) think.
It was the First Electrified City...
In 1879, when Cleveland Public Square was still known as Monumental Park, inventor Charles Brush introduced the city to electric lighting. In the months prior, he’d finished work on his new invention, the arc lamp, a method of generating electric light equivalent to 4,000 candles. Both he and the city saw the value in an invention like this one, so they worked together to install 12 lamps around the square. At 7:55 on April 29th, 1879, Brush threw the switch on the lamps and stunned a crowd of thousands of onlookers as their city became the first in America to host public space lit by electric light.
...And Has Recently Committed to Going 100% Renewable
Cleveland’s electrical pioneering didn’t stop at arc lamps. Back in September of 2018, the city’s leadership pledged to convert the city to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, a ridiculously strong commitment for a city in a state that gets a majority of its power by burning coal. It’s a decision motivated by all the right reasons, like sustainability, self-sufficiency and the recognition that the river that runs through their city has caught fire 13 times.
Whiskey Island is Beautiful
It’s weird that the enjoyment of Whiskey Island wouldn’t be generated by an abundance of aged grain alcohol. The island was only opened to the public in 2005, but since it was, it’s quickly taken over as a popular green space, boat dock and venue for the annual Burning River Fest. There’s a restaurant on the island, Sunset Grille, that was built in a renovated saw mill and pays homage to the area’s industrial past.
They Host Music Festivals in Cemeteries
One of the weirder things Cleveland is known for is its slightly odd choice of musical venue. Riverside and Lake View Cemeteries both host free summer concert series. They’re annual events, with details released almost the day of, but if you’re in Cleveland during the summer, keep your ears open. That music you’re hearing has an equal chance of being ghost or human generated.
There are Some Great Beer Gardens
People tend to forget how influential German immigrants were to the shaping of America, mostly because the First World War drove them all to ditch their German heritage to seem more loyal to America. Even so, their presence was so strong at the beginning that it still carries through. Take Cleveland’s beer gardens as a perfect example. You’ll get solid German or German-inspired beers, delicious traditional food and a friendly atmosphere. It’s a great celebration of one of the country’s largest immigrant groups and in a city you might not expect.