Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cleveland’s University Circle

A section of Uniiversity Circle, Aerial View

University Circle is more than just a university, and also more than a circuitous road where it’s easy for some to get lost. It’s a hub of education, medicine, museums, music, and just about any cultural thing you can imagine.

Located a few miles east of downtown Cleveland, it was originally known as Doan’s Corners, named after Nathanial Doan, a member of the Connecticut Land Company (as was Moses Cleaveland). The “University” in University Circle got it’s name when two Cleveland universities - Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology – relocated to Doan’s Corners. (These universities are now under one name: Case Western Reserve University.) The “Circle” part of the area’s name came from a trolley turn-around that connected the universities with downtown Cleveland in the late 1800s. The area now has, in place of trolleys, a circular, sometimes confusing, street intersection of Euclid Avenue (US Route 20) and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Over time, the area evolved into a center of culture and the arts, and later, medicine. For example, both the Cleveland Clinic and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, located in University Circle, are world renowned for their medical care.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Renovation Rendering

Here are some of the places to visit in the University Circle area:

Cleveland Botanical Garden
The Wade Oval
Cleveland Museum of Art (currently undergoing renovation)
The Western Reserve Historical Society
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Severance Hall, home of The Cleveland Orchestra
Case Western Reserve University (be sure to see the Peter B. Lewis Building, designed by Frank Gehry)
Cleveland Institute of Music
Cleveland Institute of Art
Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum
Children's Museum of Cleveland
Dittrick Museum of Medical History

Other place of interest:

The Cleveland Clinic
University Hospital of Cleveland
Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital
The Louis Stokes Veteran's Administration Medical Center

For out of town visitors, there are plenty of hotels in the immediate area. And don’t worry, there are also plenty of great places to eat.

One upcoming event taking place in University Circle at the Western Reserve Historical Society is “Vatican Splendors,” opening May 31st and running through September 7. It is one of the largest collections of art, documents and other historical items from the Vatican, and Cleveland is only one of three United States cities hosting this event touring North America. (The other US cities where this tour will be visiting are St. Paul, Minnesota, and St. Petersburg, Florida.) Many of the items in this event have never been on public view. The web site for the “Vatican Splendors” tour can be found here. If you’re looking for a good excuse to explore the University Circle area, what better excuse than this event?

For more information on what Cleveland’s University Circle has to offer, check out the University Circle web site, here. There is an interactive map and plenty of detailed information on what to see, where to stay, and where to eat. If you’d like to see the cultural side of Cleveland, this is the place to visit and explore.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cleveland’s West Side Market

Photo by James Popp Web site here.

One thing you should never do when visiting Cleveland’s West Side Market is go there hungry. If your empty stomach doesn't get you to buy everything you see, your eyes will. The West Side Market is also the place to go to experience the full breadth of Cleveland’s ethnic eats. The one thing I always hear from people who have moved out of the Cleveland area is one just can’t find some of the great ethnic foods that we Clevelander’s enjoy on a routine basis.

Located on the corner of West 25th and Lorain, in the “Ohio City” neighborhood, The West Side Market has been both a landmark and a gathering place for west siders. Over the years, though, it also has become a draw for people across the entire Cleveland metro area. The Market is easy to spot, with its large clock tower and the neo-classical/Byzantine style building. The interior is decorated with ceramic corbels of animals and vegetables. The large vaulted ceiling is patterned with a herringbone design.

For me, it hasn’t always been about the food. For people like me who have lived in the Cleveland area all my life and spent my (very) early years as a west sider, it’s a bit of a trip back in time to the days before mass-market grocers. And, if you enjoy photography, it’s a very photogenic structure, inside and out.

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History has a very detailed summary of how the West Side Market has evolved over the years:

The West Side Market

The West Side Market, Cleveland's oldest publicly owned market, began in 1840 when Josiah Barber and Richard Lord gave Ohio City (City of Ohio) a tract of land at the corner of Pearl (W. 25th) and Lorain streets with the stipulation that it always be kept as a public market site. Additional gifts of land enabled the marketplace to expand, and in 1868 the wooden, 1-story Pearl St. Market was erected on the site. As the city's population increased, the market house became inadequate. In 1902 the city purchased a site for a new market across the street from the old one. A new $680,000 markethouse designed by the firm of Hubbell & Benes was dedicated in 1912--a massive yellow-brick building with an interior concourse providing room for 100 stalls, an outdoor arcade with 85 stands, and a large clock tower.

The West Side Market Tenant's Assn., formed in 1915, was instrumental in implementing markethouse improvements, including a $1.1 million modernization program in 1953 and a $5 million renovation project in the late 1970s. The historical and architectural significance of the building was recognized when it was designated a Natl. Historic Landmark in 1973. The market was always a favorite stopping place for political campaigners, and during the 1980s its annual food festivals were a popular event. In 1988 budgetary concerns forced the city to reduce its subsidy to the market and the tenants' rents were raised to pay for the upkeep. In the early 1990s, numerous maintenance projects, upkeep, and repairs were begun to improve the facilities, including a $97,000 effort in 1992 aimed at correcting violations of building and sanitary codes. In 1995 the West Side Market continued to be an attractive spot for both local and out-of-town shoppers.

If you are visiting Cleveland, take the time to check out the West Side Market. And it you live in the Cleveland area and have never been there before, what are you waiting for?

“Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations” Visits the West Side Market

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Cleveland Area’s Annoying Midges

A midge, greatly enlarged

They don’t bite. They don’t sting. But they can still annoy. They’re midges (some call them muckleheads), and every year around this time when it starts to warm up, they come out in full force. And sometimes in the fall they return again if the conditions are right.

These insects are largely ignored, until they come out in such numbers that they can’t be avoided. Just ask anyone who played in the October 2007 Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees playoff game, when a freak mass swarming of midges into Jacob’s Field (now Progressive Field) seemed to completely unnerve the New York Yankees. The Yankees were close to tying the series when the insects descended, like something out of a horror film. Yankee team members complained of bugs in their hair, nose, ears, well, just about any place a tiny bug can get. Some of the Yankees tried to spray themselves with insect repellent to no avail.

This wasn’t the first swarm of midges into the ballpark, but it was one whose timing was impeccable. The Yankees lost the game. Score one for the bugs.

Last spring, the midges were so bad that when my husband returned from work downtown, the front of his car was so covered in midges it looked like the car had grown fur. He said while that driving home on the Shoreway he had passed through many dense clouds of midges. I immediately took his car to the drive through car wash, not wishing to touch the car myself. (I still shudder just thinking about it.) I also used to work in the Tower at Erieview, and one morning during my first spring working there, I came in to the office and opened my blinds to find the window almost black, covered with moving midges. Thankfully they were all outside, but it was still a shock.

But, while many people living in the Cleveland area probably have their own midge encounter, many may not really understand much about these harmless bugs.

There are many kinds of midges (in the family Chironomidae), and they can be found worldwide, having over 700 species in North America alone. They have no mouths and no stinger, so they are really of no harm to people. Their nuisance is just in their sheer numbers. They spend most of their life as just larvae near the Lake Erie shoreline, and hatch usually in large numbers when the temperature, humidity, and light are just right. Midges are an excellent food source for fish, and the larvae also help keep lakes clean by consuming organic debris. They are also highly attracted to light and bug zappers. So, if you know there was a midge hatching, keep your outdoor lights off and your bug zapper either off or away from where you plan to be, because it will only attract them to you.

Here are two videos on midges. The first is a little more educational, and shows the life cycle of a midge. The second is a video taken by someone at the Indian/Yankees playoff game, which, if you can stand a little shaky-cam, gives you an idea of how the Yankees, and the crowd, handled The Attack of the Harmless Midges.

So that’s it for Cleveland’s secret weapon, the midges. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Learn about Midges

The Midges, I mean The Indians vs. the New York Yankees

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Funny Clevelanders: Tim Conway

Before Drew Carey, one of Cleveland’s resident funny men was Tim Conway. He is considered a Clevelander, even though he was born in Willoughby, Ohio and grew up in Chagrin Falls. He is best known nationwide for his performances on “McHale’s Navy” and “The Carol Burnett Show”, but long time, maybe older Cleveland area residents remember him from his work on Cleveland radio and TV with Ernie Anderson (as Ghoulardi).

Wikipedia outlines Conway’s career here in Cleveland:

Conway later moved back to Cleveland to work with the late television broadcasting legend Ernie Anderson on WKYC TV, an NBC affiliate, in 1958 and 1959 and later, from 1960 to 1962,on WJW TV, (a the CBS-TV affiliate) teamed with station engineer and now legendary local TV personality Chuck Schdowski as regulars on Anderson's Ghoulardi Saturday Night Picture Show, where he also wrote material for the comedic skits shown in between movie intermissions. Conway also recorded a comedy album with Anderson. After he became famous, Conway would later resurface periodically on Cleveland TV through the years on the Hoolihan And Big Chuck and Big Chuck and Lil' John shows on WJW-TV in guest spots, and occasional skits.

Conway has also made regular guest appearances at numerous "Ghoulardifest" functions held by WJW over the years, (along with former Cleveland TV personality Bob "Hoolihan" Wells) in tribute to Anderson, who died in 1997.

Because everyone sometimes just needs to take a break to enjoy a laugh, here are some videos of Tim, doing what he does best – humor and making people laugh. One thing Clevelanders know how to do best is to “bring the funny”. Enjoy!

Big Chuck & Lil’ John’s Best
(7 Minutes, contains short clip on Tim Conway at the 2 minute mark)

Tim Conway as The Dentist (with Harvey Korman)

Tim Conway as The Jockey – With Johnny Carson

Tim on PBS’s Pioneers of Television

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