Critiquing Cleveland

Enya Eettickal, Staff Writer

A running joke among my friends is that I’m the biggest Cleveland hater they know, often noting that any opportunity presented, I’m immediately jumping on a flight back to Chicago. And while there’s a shred of truth to that, I think my Cleveland criticism has precedent. So, here’s a fun little article on why I think Cleveland “sucks.” 

My most recent qualm with Cleveland has been the weather. Sure, it’s been undesirable since I first came to Case Western Reserve University, but recently, it’s been terrible—especially with the constant switches in temperature. Going from having sheets of ice and negative windchill one day to a balmy 50 degrees the next is hard to keep up with. Inconsistent weather is a common trait for most of the Midwest; however, Cleveland’s average sporadic weather is much drearier than the other cities I’ve visited even within a nearby vicinity, so it places Cleveland’s weather as a significant drawback. 

Most of my remaining complaints about this city stem from the way it’s populated. While Cleveland is a mid-sized city, most areas appear empty, especially during the evenings. While I may have that perspective because I frequently visit bigger cities, the lack of people out at night is still unnerving. 

While I don’t know the exact cause of this emptiness, I wouldn’t be too surprised if restaurants and other attractions closing incredibly early is a factor. This is a particularly difficult problem to navigate as a college student, given that when activities and classes run very late and I have to settle for late-night dinner, options are few and far between. Furthermore, they become even more narrow, bordering on nonexistent, when any type of dietary restriction is factored in. I’ve seen a number of people simply not able to get dinner because they couldn’t find the energy to cook and no options for food were available. It may seem like a simple and fixable issue, but when considering how overwhelmed and drained college kids can be, having a number of food options can be a game changer. Cleveland just doesn’t suit this need.

But my biggest beef with the city of Cleveland is its roads. I’d truly like to have a talk with whoever designed the roads here because absolutely nothing about them makes sense. Who decided that three-way and six-way intersections were a good idea? Why did no one change them? That, paired with the random structure and winding nature of roads make for absolute chaos when driving—especially for those who are unfamiliar with the area. Even within University Circle, the driving pattern baffles me. I’ve seen a number of vehicles park on the side of the road and just block off a whole lane, instantly backing up traffic for minutes at a time. To top it all off, there is the issue of the quality of the roads; for instance, the number of potholes is ridiculous. Overall, driving in Cleveland is simply a nightmare. Even though there aren’t too many places to go to in Cleveland, getting around to those places can be difficult if it’s in unknown areas. 

There’s no one singular solution for this city—or, at least, none that we can individually act on. However, there are two direct options here in terms of how to cope with it. Option one is to leave while you can. Go back to your hometown or explore a different place, whether that be within the U.S. or outside of the country. Most places will be a level up from here, so it’s a great setup for experiences after your time at CWRU is over. But the other option is to find things to love about Cleveland. The one promise I made to my friends in my third year was that I’d give the city a chance by exploring the surrounding areas—finding if there were things I liked to do or food I’d like to get. I followed through on that and it honestly made Cleveland a bit more bearable of a place to live in. Whether it be Tremont, Beachwood, Shaker Heights or the myriad of areas outside of Uptown, there are a few places that make the area a bit more fun, even when it takes a bit of an effort to get there. 

Being in Cleveland has definitely been a wild time. But I’ll admit, the city has grown on me over the years. But just because Cleveland has developed a special place in my heart, it doesn’t mean I won’t continue to criticize all the weird parts of living here.