President Obama pays a visit to the West Side Market.

News Archive

If you’ve seen the striking new mural that overlooks Market Square Park, you’ve probably noticed the beautifully detailed images of weathered hands engaged in activities.

Yet what you probably didn’t know is that the hands were inspired by people who live and work in Ohio City. Artist Augustina Droze of Buffalo, New York spent a month in the neighborhood, photographing the hands of workers at the West Side Market and other locations and painstakingly recreating them.

Droze’s mural, which is entitled “By Hand,” depicts pairs of hands in various states of activity – holding barley used to make beer, fixing a bike, working on metal and pulling beets from a garden.

The artwork is an homage to the many talented artisans who make Ohio City what it is today. It celebrates the community’s past and looks to its future.

Inside of the stout brick building that once lent power to Ohio City’s trolley cars, a bold gallery is taking shape that will provide crackling new energy to the west side’s art scene.

When it opens in February, The Transformer Station will house the col-lection of nationally-known art collec-tors Fred and Laura Bidwell. It will also incorporate rotating exhibitions of con-temporary art jointly curated by the Bidwells and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Bidwell was first drawn to Ohio City by the building’s unique architecture and the collection of cutting-edge artistic venues that are a stone’s throw away. “We wanted to break down barri-ers between the east and west side,” he says, citing the presence of SPACES, the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA), Cleveland Public Theatre and even the Happy Dog within the area.

For five years running, engaged neighbors on West 47th Street in Ohio City have hosted “Miracle on 47th Street,” an event that builds friendships among residents, attracts visitors from across the city and shares the magic of the season with children.   

Last year, over 300 children had the chance to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, pet Lola the “reindeer” (a greyhound with antlers) and enjoy hot chocolate and gifts by the warm fire.  

Yet it hasn’t always been this festive and friendly on West 47th Street. Fourteen-year resident Marcia Nolan remem-bers a time when prostitutes,drug dealers and criminal activity ran rampant. Most residents didn’t know their neighbors, and they often didn’t bother calling the cops

The trees along Franklin Hill are now barren of leaves, unveiling stunning views of the Flats and downtown Cleveland in its entire industrial splendor. Yet in the high-tunnel hoop houses that now dot the Ohio City Farm, the green shoots are just coming up.

The six new hoop houses at the farm, located on six acres behind the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Riverview Tower at West 25th and Franklin will facilitate the growth of crops such as lettuce, carrots and beets all winter long.

“It’s really nice to harvest fresh, leafy greens when there’s snow on the ground,” says Kelly Powers with Cleveland Crops, a partnership between the Cuyahoga Board of Developmental Disabilities and SAW Inc. that maintains one acre at the farm.

Eclectic art, couture, street wear, delectable edibles, potent potables and of course all things local round out an eclectic Ohio City shopping trip that will accommodate just about any holiday list.


The OHC Argus rounded up a slew of examples, but let the buyer beware that stock at these indie shops is constantly changing. The good news is that if an item referenced here is sold out, chances are something just as delightful has taken its place.


The Art Pad

4118 Lorain Ave.



Three U.S. Presidents are now a part of Ohio City’s rich history.  President Barrack Obama made a surprise visit to the West Side Market during this year’s Market Centennial.  Candidate Ronald Reagan campaigned at the Market in 1980.  More than a century earlier, long before entering politics, James A. Garfield preached at Franklin Circle Christian Church.  Yet there always has been one lingering question surrounding the lore about Garfield: Was this lay minister’s preaching time here cut short because of a pay dispute?  We now know the answer is “yes,” confirmed by a fragile copy of The Plain Dealer dated April 9, 1894.                       .

Last year I led an after-school creative writing club for fourth- and fifth-graders at my son’s school. On the first day everyone introduced themselves – name, grade, what kinds of books you like, etc. Everything was going fine until we got to Mary Jane, who stood up and declared: “My name is Cheez-It. I was born on Mars, and I moved here from California yesterday.”

For about two seconds, no one reacted. Then hands shot up all around the room as the other kids begged to change their answers. To restore order I had to prom-ise that the following week we’d set aside time to choose nicknames for everyone.

It will soon be May and that must mean that it is time for the annual Ohio City Home Tour. We say that this year marks the 24th anniversary of this traditional Ohio City event, but is that true? Some reflections upon history tell the story of how this signature event has helped to catalyze and promote the redevelopment of our neighborhood.

When Greg and Tana Peckham began graduate school at Case Western Reserve University neither of them anticipated moving across the river to Ohio City to raise a family together.  To begin with, when they both started graduate school they weren't a couple, and they didn’t exactly come from similar backgrounds.  Tana came to Cleveland after being born and raised in the heart of Philadelphia, choosing Case thinking that she would have the support of an aunt and uncle in Shaker Heights.  Turns out her arrival coincided with their departure from the Cleveland area.  So the Philly native found herself a stranger in a strange land without the comforts of family or the Liberty Bell.  That wasn’t a problem though--she didn’t plan on sticking around after getting her master’s degree.

Norma Polanco-Boyd grew up in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood in the 70s and 80s. It was a gritty, blue-collar neighborhood in the grips of a recession then, densely built with brick bungalows and walk-up apartment flats that housed every ethnic group under the sun. It was a great place to grow up, she says, and she has many vivid memories of walking to the library or corner store and playing in the local park.

“There were pockets that were a little dangerous, but elements that were really cool,” says Polanco-Boyd, whose Mexican-born parents immigrated to the U.S. before having kids. “My parents were lower middle-class, and Humboldt Park was affordable and close to their jobs. Growing up, I thought you had to be rich to live in the suburbs.”