Get out and see Downtown Cleveland

Cleveland outings

Shreyas Banerjee, A&E Editor

It’s no secret that Case Western Reserve University students don’t get out too much. The so-called CWRU bubble is a much discussed phenomenon, with many of us not really getting out to know the communities that surround us. CWRU organizations like Know Your Neighbors have attempted to bridge the divides between Case Westerners and Clevelanders, but the fact remains that Case Westerners don’t know Cleveland. Many people I know have never even left University Circle in their entire time at CWRU, outside of their outing freshman year as part of the “Discover Cleveland” orientation program. That option didn’t even exist for the Class of 2024, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic making orientation a virtual affair. This delay will only exacerbate the issue in the future. We may be an urban campus, but that doesn’t mean that we’re still not isolated. 

Public Square and Terminal Tower define downtown Cleveland, but that’s not all that is there. (Shreyas Banerjee/The Observer)

Fortunately, with the RTA pass that is included in our tuition, Cleveland is our oyster. With that in mind, I’m starting a new series: Cleveland outings. Here, we’ll discuss how to get around Cleveland using just public transportation and spotlight specific neighborhoods and activities that can be done there, while still being safe during this pandemic. While I am, by no means, a Cleveland expert, I have made a concerted effort to go out into the city every weekend and explore. In my time, I’ve fallen in love with this city, so let’s explore Cleveland together and see what outings you can safely partake in.

Euclid Ave. runs through the heart of the city, containing attractions on all sides.  (Shreyas Banerjee/The Observer)

Public transportation:

Of all the neighborhoods in Cleveland, it is probably easier to get to downtown from University Circle than any other. So, no excuses! For those living on the north side of campus, you can take the Healthline bus straight down from the 115th Street stop all the way to Public Square. If you want to take the Rapid Transit trains instead, just go from the Little Italy-University Circle Station and take the Red Line down to Tower City-Public Square Station. For those living on the south side of campus, your best bet is to take the Red Line from the Cedar-University Station down to Tower City. From there you can exit the station into the heart of the city.

Things to do:

While Cleveland may not be New York City or Chicago, there is still plenty to do downtown. First off, enjoy Public Square, the center of downtown. There, see the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, built in 1894 to commemorate those who fought to preserve the Union during the American Civil War. During the winter, an ice-skating rink opens up and Christmas lights adorn the area, making for quite a sight. In the summer, the square bustles with water features and pop-up cafés and a blooming garden. Right next to the square is Terminal Tower, formerly the second-tallest building in the world, which is home to apartments, offices, a transit station, a new casino and an admittedly dying mall. A movie theater used to be there as well, but that closed down last year, unfortunately. Still the architecture is impressive and a balcony at the top gives an expansive view of the city. Hopefully we see some redevelopment of the center in years to come. Down Superior Street is the Cleveland Public Library, where you can always find a quiet spot to curl up with a book or to study. Around that area as well is the famous Cleveland Arcade, the immaculate Victorian-era structure that seemingly always has wedding photographs being taken there. The structure was one of the earliest indoor malls in America and is now a Hyatt Regency hotel, with restaurants and shops peppered throughout. The beautiful glass skylight and ornate balconies combine to make a true architectural delight.

The Arcade remains one of the most beautiful architectural sights in the Midwest. (Shreyas Banerjee/The Observer)  

Across the street from there is the crown jewel of downtown, the newly redeveloped East 4th Street. Home to upscale restaurants, shops and live entertainment, the pedestrian walkway has become a hub for business and tourism. It certainly helps that the surrounding area contains Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, and Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, so students can always catch a game there for relatively cheap. While the House of Blues and some restaurants have closed down, either permanently or temporarily due to the pandemic, the future of the street is bright, with new restaurants coming to replace the vacancies and the Hilarities comedy club featuring touring comedians once more.

East 4th Street is the highlight of a neighborhood slowly being rejuvenated. (Shreyas Banerjee/The Observer)

Also present on East 4th Street, is the Corner Alley, which provides bowling fun and drinks. For around $40 there, you can spend an hour in one of the socially distanced lanes. Bowling is always a blast and you couldn’t ask for a better space than the Corner Alley. From there, it’s a short walk through Cleveland’s Mall, or central park, to get to the lakefront, or the “North Coast,” as it is designated. There, you can find Cleveland staples such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center, FirstEnergy Stadium (home of the Cleveland Browns) and a well-placed Cleveland script sign. You could easily fill a day, if not more, just enjoying all the amenities and attractions provided. Hopefully, the neighborhood continues its upward trajectory and builds its reputation as the top destination in the city.

North Coast Harbor is one of the only accessible bits of lakefront east of the Cuyahoga River but that makes it all the more unique. (Shreyas Banerjee/The Observer)

Downtown Cleveland is great, but it’s only the beginning of places to go in Cleveland. Join me next time as we explore the Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods.