Too often the mention of Cleveland Ohio is met with jokes and jeers. As we north coast residents know, however, the truth is far different from the national perception. Cleveland is a great place to live. Sure we have our challenges. What city doesn't? But, Cleveland has a lot to offer. Below are my choices for the Best things about Cleveland. Do you have something you'd like me to add? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Cost of Living
According to a 2003 Cleveland Growth Association publication, Greater Cleveland's cost of living is 2.6% below the national average. In addition, the study cited listed Cleveland as the 99th most expensive city in which to live (although the Cleveland metro area is the 15th largest such area), well behind Boston, Detroit, Charlotte, San Diego, Nashville, and Tampa.
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Cleveland's Cultural Institutions
Cleveland's 20th century heritage as a major manufacturing center has given the city a legacy of world-class arts and cultural institutions. Among these are the Cleveland Museum of Art, founded in 1913 on land donated by Western Union founder Jeptha Wade and others; the Cleveland Orchestra, whose neo-classical home, Severance Hall, was built by industrialist John L. Severance; and the Cleveland Botanical Garden, founded in 1930 as a home for the 17,000-book botanical library donated by Eleanor Squire.
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Lake Erie, rarely more than a few miles away in Cleveland, is a great source of recreation, scenic beauty, and natural resources (such as the salt mines under the lake). It's also a vital element in creating Lake Erie Icewine and the Lake Effect snow that protects our north coast gardens in the winter. The history of Lake Erie can be explored all along the coastline at lighthouses, maritime history museums, and such unique sites as the Glacial Grooves on Kelleys Island.
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Cleveland's "melting pot" heritage is still evident in the city's many ethnic neighborhoods, churches, food stores, and restaurants. There's Slavic Village, developed by Poles and Czechs who found work in Cleveland's late 19th century and early 20th century steel mills and textile mills; Little Italy, which grew up peopled with artisans that found work at the adjacent Lake View Cemetery; and Asiatown, a more recent enclave of Chinese, Vietnamese, and other Asian immigrants.
This mixtures of cultures gives Cleveland a rich, depth of culture not experienced in such younger cities as Atlanta, Tampa, and even Columbus.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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The Rock and Roll Hall of FameClevelanders tend to take the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for granted, unless we have visitors in from out of state, but the graceful I.M. Pei building is well-known throughout the music world. Not only is the record-player shaped (from the air) building the cornerstone of the Cleveland harborfront, but it houses thousands of Rock and Roll artifacts, including costumes, original hand-penned lyrics, album covers, photos, and lots more. I've visited the museum dozens of times and I always find something new. Cleveland's number one attraction is not just for visitors.
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Cleveland Health InstitutionsThat people come from all over the world to be treated at Cleveland hospitals is no accident. The Cleveland Clinic is rated one of the top three US hospitals by US News and World Report magazine as well as the number one cardiac care center. In addition, nearby University Hospitals' Seidman Cancer Center is one of 39 comprehensive, multi-discipline, cancer centers in the US and is rated among the top 25 US cancer centers by US News and World Report. University Hospitals' Rainbow Babies and Children's Hosptial is among the top 10 children's hospitals and is ranked the number one neo-natal care center by the same report.
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The Number of Fortune 500 CompaniesThe Greater Cleveland area is home to several Fortune 500 companies: paint manufacturer, Sherwin-Williams; conglomerate Parker Hannifin; insurance company, Progressive Insurance in Mayfield Village; and aluminum recycler Aleris International, based in Beachwood. Further south of Cleveland, Akron is home to Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and First Energy, and Canton is home to the Timken Company, the world's largest manufacturer of tapered roller bearings.
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Northeast Ohio has a wide variety of educational institutions, from the relatively affordable and accessible Cleveland State University to private Oberlin College, one of the first US colleges to admit women students, to Case Western Reserve University, named the number 1 undergraduate college in Ohio (and number 38 in the US) by US News and World Report magazine in 2007. Other area collges and universities include John Carroll University, Ursuline College, Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, the University of Akron, and Kent State University.
Many of these institutions also offer continuing education programs for adults, including several discounted programs for residents over 55.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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In 2006, Intel named Cleveland as one of its picks for the top three digital communities worldwide. This distintion was awarded to us in large part because of the number of schools, public buildings, libraries, and other spots around town that offer free wireless Internet access. Among these are Cleveland State University, Cleveland Hopkins Airport, the Cleveland Public Libraries, Tower City, Case Western Reserve University, and a host of local coffee houses.
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Yes, I realize that being a Cleveland sports fans takes a certain amount of courage and fortitude, but what other city our size has the variety of professional sports teams that Cleveland has. There's always a major league sporting event and team to cheer -- from the Cleveland Browns, to the Cleveland Cavaliers, to the Cleveland Indians.
Less nationally-visible teams, but no less exciting are the Cleveland City Stars soccer team, the Akron Aeros AA baseball team, the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team, and the Lake Erie Monsters hockey team.
Of course, there's also the OSU Buckeyes winning football and basketball teams, just two hours down the road in Columbus.
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Cleveland Public Library SystemThe Cleveland Public Library, founded in 1869, has 28 branches plus the main branch in downtown Cleveland. In addition, library patrons have access to the collections of 31 regional library systems in 9 counties through the CLEVNET system, a set-up unique among big city libraries.
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Cleveland's "Emerald Necklace" is one of the most interconnected and extensive city park systems in the US. Founded in 1917, the Cleveland Metropark system is the oldest park system in Ohio and now encompasses over 20,000 acres of parkland. You can travel from the mouth of the Rocky River to the woods outside of Chagrin Falls without ever leaving the park. Facilities include the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, a marina, the toboggan chutes in Strongsville, several golf courses, riding stables, and miles and miles of biking and hiking trails.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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The Cleveland Food Scene
Cleveland has always had good restaurants, but the last few years have seen an explosion of new restaurants, food trucks and chefs. Most visible are Michael Symon (Lola, Lolita, B-Side Burgers), Zack Bruell (Parallax, Cowell and Hubbard, L'Albatros...), Jonathon Sawyer (The Greenhouse Tavern, Noodlecat...), Chris Hodgson (Hodge's, Dim and Den Sum, Hodge Podge...) and Rocco Whalen (Fahrenheit), but they are far from being the only ones. Cleveland food mixes local produce and other ingredients with a touch of ethnicity and a lot of style.
Few people are neutral about living in Northeast Ohio; they either love it or hate it. What about you? Tell us how you feel?