cleveland: witnesses of decay.

Took a deeper look at the wastelands of Cleveland, when I was home for Christmas. It surprises me more and more each time to find moments of incredible beauty in the way this city has fallen apart. It’s bittersweet, but absolutely fascinating at the same time.

“The Guardians of Traffic”

Four giant Art Deco style statues guard the entrances to the Hope Memorial Bridge, which crosses over the Cuyahoga River, close to downtown. They were designed by sculptor Henry Hering and architect Frank Walker. The bridge was constructed in 1932, and renovated later in the 80s. They were constructed to symbolize progress in transportation.

Each one holds a different mode of transportation. They are wonderful. (And not just because they remind me of the giant statues that guard the river in The Lord of the Rings Movie, well, OK, maybe that’s why…)

According to Wikipedia: the bridge “was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on October 8, 1976, after a controversy in which county engineer Albert S. Porter threatened to remove the historic pylons to widen the span, stating, ‘Those columns are monstrosities and should be torn down and forgotten. There is nothing particularly historic about any one of them. We’re not running a May Show here.'” That blows my mind. How could someone not appreciate the grandeur of these things? I guess you could say it fits in perfectly with the way this city has fallen apart. Walking around, you can tell there is no appreciation for the architecture or the infrastructure. What a giant waste.

Stumbled upon this old abandoned-looking gas station. These sweet old-school gas pumps look like they haven’t been touched in years. Gorgeous. There are so many places in this city that feel like time has just stopped. Buildings and designs were simply abandoned and left to rot. No one has bothered to wind up the clock so the city can move forwards again.

The entire place is littered with the remnants of industry.

Lots of the older buildings and factories in this area have faded layers of numerous company names on the external sides of their brick walls. Nobody bothered to lay down a fresh coast of paint before scribing the new words. It’s endlessly interesting to me because you can see the complex layers of history splattered across all these places. The wear and tear of neglect and disinterest abounds, which in the end creates a new identity itself.

In many ways, it’s a shame to see a place in such dire neglect. I’m sure Cleveland is only the tip of the iceberg as far as rotting industrial cities goes, and it doesn’t look like anyone will have the desire or the power to step in and clean things up anytime soon…


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