The View From 32


MAY 29, 2007  

Desperately searching for street life

After a visit to Beaumont School to talk with Sr. Adelaide whose students did so well in our recent Click! Web Competition, I planned to stop at a sidewalk cafe for a coffee on the way home. I had visions of sitting in the sun and watching people stroll by as I sipped my coffee. There were several possible places I thought would fit the bill if I just took a small detour on the way home.

I drove east on Coventry, planning to stop and park as soon as I saw people sitting outside. I got all the way to Mayfield and never spotted the cluster of tables and chairs—and people—I expected. OK, not a problem. I'll just drive west on Mayfield to Little Italy. Presti's or some other restaurant would surely have folks gathered on the sidewalk.

Well, Presti's wasn't exactly bustling, and then my attempt to stop there got sidetracked by one-way streets that led me to Euclid Avenue. OK, must be a sign that Arabica at University Circle would be my spot for coffee. I drove up Juniper to check  it out and all the tables in front were empty. Now I was getting a bit frustrated.

So, onward. Downtown via the Shoreway, with a stop to walk around the Rock Hall and Science Center looking for clusters of people enjoying the sunshine. People, yes, but most headed purposefully into the buildings. Not much strolling or socializing down here.

Again, back in the car, up East 9th then west on St. Clair, hoping for a coffee shop in the Warehouse District. Probably there's one I missed, but again, no visible groups congregating on the sidewalk anywhere. I was near despair.

I headed back to the Near West Side where I did find a decent sized crowd enjoying the patio in front of Great Lakes Brewing (but strangely no one outside at Talkies Coffee across the street). By this time I'd given up on my original idea and was driving around out of curiousity.

I went home and drank a Great Lakes Dortmunder in my back yard instead.

My frustrating search for street life pointed out one of the things that keeps Cleveland from reaching its potential as a great place to live: Clevelanders don't know how to enjoy their city. Compare the people walking, strolling, sipping, and talking on the streets of cities like New York, Chicago, Paris, London and Cleveland seems desolate. It's a damn shame.


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