Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Greenberg Slams Cleveland in the Must Miss Book “Don’t Go There”

I chuckled when I first read the title of the Peter Greenberg book, “Don't Go There!: The Travel Detective's Essential Guide to the Must-Miss Places of the World.” I laughed because in the late 1950s, when I was very little and living on West 50th Street, my dad used to tell a story about something scary at the end of the street at West 50th and Denison, always ending the story with a spooky voice, saying, “ Donnnn’t…. Gooooo There!” It was his way of telling us not to wander off too far. It made me so scared that I don’t think I ever walked out of the yard without a parent with me. But he made his point, we never did wander away from the house.

So when I read the title of Greenberg’s book, I subconsciously heard my father and his dire warnings to stay away. It must mean something, I thought; maybe an inner voice telling me to avoid the book. Imagine my dismay when I heard that in his book, Greenberg put Cleveland on his hit list of cities to avoid.

Regular readers of my blog know how I feel about this city. There are many great things to be found here, great things to do here, and great ways to be entertained here. We know we aren’t perfect, and we know we’re not New York City. But plenty of visitors who come here every year for business or pleasure have plenty of nice things to say about the city and the area. Sure, some don’t have perfect experiences, but they also don’t have perfect experiences in New York City, either. I am sure that there are select areas of New York City that if you singled them out, you wouldn’t want to go there either. For example, in an article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer about the book, Greenberg said:

"I love Jacobs Field [now known as Progressive Field] and I've been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so many times. I'm just saying, guys, know what you're getting into before you go," said Greenberg, who names the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood from East 70th to East 123rd streets and Kinsman Road from East 55th to East 130th streets - hardly top tourist areas - as places to avoid.

It's a shame that people who don't live in the city or spend a lot of time here can get away with bashing the city and then make money off of it. Many use their own contrived criteria to justify their opinions, rarely (if ever) seeking advice or input from the people who actually live here or work in the area. I suppose that Peter Greenberg should have read my blog – which is free by the way - before he wrote his book. One thing is for sure, I won’t be buying his book. And neither should any self-respecting Clevelander. Why put money in his pocket when his commentary may take money out of the pockets of the city and its business owners by reduced tourism?

By the way, I’ll be happy to take suggestions on where we think Greenberg should go.

Further Reading: Article, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Travel writer Peter Greenberg calls Cleveland a 'must-miss' destination

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


salamndstron said...

I always like to hear what it is he has to say. I got his new book and I am super excited to talk to peter greenberg live Friday on this site. http://dontgothere.org/peter-greenberg-live-chat-here

All that being said I do take everything in that book with slight skepticism. I mean he and I will look for completely different things in travel. The whole demographics thing makes a difference you know. Anyways I actually really like his stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I saw that article as well and it was very slanted. I can name one place in New York you would want to avoid.. I think the name is Jamaica Queens. To visitors, there is plenty to offer here. There are a lot of positives going on in older areas as well which will help re-gentrify and lure people back in the core.

I am not a person to stick my head in the sand by no means--and believe we should point out the negative and make it right---but people like this guy have barked out the same outdated blurbs about Cleveland that really just drone on like a depressing church chorus. Anyone who knows a little about this areas history, natural and human-made history---knows there is a lot of interesting and a lot to be proud of. Cleveland was amongst the nation's original large cities and was a major wheel in getting the country started--so for all the naysayer out there who enjoy their life elsewhere in the country...

I'll bet you can look at the history and find something that contributed to making that city a great place---that can be traced back to the humble beginnings of Cleveland. This guy went on to point out an obviously struggling neighborhood. I can find places like that in almost any city in the US. It is not unique to Cleveland. I want to add that while Cleveland hit a hiatus and already established itself as a major city with all the goodies...Places like Phoenix and all the beloved sun-belt cities were mere stagecoach outposts which never really had the economic structure that was bound to take a crash...as did Cleveland, with industry going over seas and such.

My point here is that had those 'other places' that Greenberg may well revere as great destinations, been set up economically as was Cleveland---they would have likely hit a period in time where they failed. Instead, everyone just got old and cold...moved to Phoenix (for example) and suddenly.. POOF they became a large city. Well, it takes a lot more than just a lot of people to make a great city. Cleveland has all the infrastructure and buildings that point evidence to it's rich historical and proud past in a city only a little more than 200 years.

It is funny how people can kick us...but probably enjoy so much and take for granted things in their daily life that had roots in Cleveland. I will point out however, that people in Greater Cleveland could use a dose of the kind of civic pride the author of this blog has. What does that mean? It means that when you have some pride in your area, you won’t let it be dragged down by the things that could ultimately lend themselves to obtaining a bad image. If you don’t project a positive self image, then why would you expect someone else to have a positive image of yourself---BUT, that is exactly what happens… People go by what they hear repeated and just pass along the word. How many times have I taken out of town guests from all over the word all around the area (yes, that means you in the suburbs. You are a part of a metro area--so can the parochialism for a bit) only to discover they can see a lot of the good we seem to take for granted.. They then wonder what all the negativism is about. So you see, it is this self projection of negative that hurts us the most. Others come with an open mind and it is not tainted until we make it tainted. Sure, we can point out the negatives we all talk about---but again, everyplace has its pits. Let’s try projecting a positive self image for a change. The results in the good things might be surprising..and as I mentioned earlier, a positive self image and civic pride in a people, will result in the people not letting things ruin their city. You gotta care!

Anonymous said...

Every time I go to Cleveland, I can't help but compare it to another city on the lake,
Both cities have lots of waterfront, both cities have a great downtown, full of great old buildings well worth saving-both cities are architectural gems. Both cities have great ethnic neighborhoods. Both have great hospitals.
So...why is Buffalo dragging its feet? All they have to do, is look at Cleveland's waterfront for ideas. I don't know how or what got the ball rolling in Cleveland, to get your waterfront developed, but its great! Too bad Buffalo can't get going.
One thing, though...what idiot decided to put Progressive Field right along the Thruway? Every time I go past it, I can just hear the people in that car from Illinois, in front of me..."Look at that! A stadium!"
And then....CRASH! as the driver is so fascinated with the ballpark, that s/he takes thier eyes off the road, and smashes into someone's rear end, side, or a guardrail.
That stadium is a traffic hazard.