The View From 32


More below: CARDINAL

American industry

Home Depot store in Steelyard Commons with steel mill in background

Here it is: America's industrial past, the dark hulking buildings of Cleveland's sole remaining steel mill in the Flats serving as backdrop for America's current industry: shopping.

This was my first visit to Steelyard Commons, the big box shopping center that's being developed on the site of now mostly defunct steel mills.

There were at least three big mills that used to fill the air with smoke, flames and eye-burning chemicals. I can remember as a kid looking down from the Clark Avenue bridge into what looked like a scene from hell. It was both fascinating and a little scary.

Storefronts with old steelwork as part of the signageThat's gone now, replaced with a bizarre combination of Mad Max steelwork, corporate retail architecture and meandering bikeway.

One section of storefronts incorporates huge steel beams from the old mill as part of the signage. Before too long we'll see Famous Footwear and Staples on these structures.

There are six or eight tall gridwork towers lit from below scattered around the huge complex.

Steel tower with signage in frontRight now they look like sculpture, and I like their boldness. Pretty soon though, they'll be capped with huge neon logos of Target, Best Buy, Staples, etc., making this industrial sculpture garden look like every suburban freeway interchange in America.

The overall esthetic of the place strikes me as an tough urban cousin to the genteel Crocker Park development in Westlake. Here's more about Crocker Park from an earlier visit there.

Oh, and the Towpath Trail that winds its way through the Cuyahoga National Park south of Cleveland runs smack dab through the middle of Steelyard Commons, alongside the roadway that separate the Home Depot side from the Wal-Mart side. It's great to see the trail finally making its way north to the lake. Too bad it took this deal with the devil to make it happen.


Cardinal sitting on fence in back yardFirst cardinal of the year

Sitting on the fence in the "back 40," the lot we bought behind our house, is the first cardinal I've seen this year. It was kind of skittish, wouldn't let me get very close. But I'm taking its arrival as sign that spring is really, truly here. Of course the 70 degree temperatures yesterday and today could be another sign.

Here, from is what a cardinal sounds like:

This one was completely silent today, but I'll record his song on another day. I think our Ohio cardinals sound a little different.