Have ever heard someone from Cleveland, Ohio, say, “I’m from the westside,” or likewise, “I live on the eastside”? Do you have any idea how deep the east/west thing goes in Cleveland? As an analyst at a healthcare company I’ve had to look at the geography and demographics of the greater Cleveland area. It wasn’t until then that I truly understand how different it really is – and I’ve lived here my whole life! The differences in demographics between the two are extreme in some cases and, due to the layout of our major highways, there is a distinct dividing line. Each half has it’s own unique things to offer – the westside has the zoo while the eastside has all the museums. The eastside is home to major universities while the westside has colleges. The eastside has the Grog Shop, a venue where the crowd varies from show to show, and the westside has Now That’s Class, where every night is hipster night (but with good music and bands sometimes, don’t get me wrong). Generally people don’t crossover.
Yesterday I talked about the Tremont neighborhood in Cleveland and our increasing lack of interest in what it has to offer as of late. Tremont is on the westside. Here’s what their Wikipedia entry reads, “Tremont is one of the oldest parts of Cleveland, and is home to many restaurants and art galleries. The district sits just west of the Cuyahoga River and south of the Ohio City neighborhood. Tremont is home to numerous historic churches including Pilgrim Congregational UCC (founded in 1859), St. Augustine (1893), St. John Cantius (1898), and St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral (1912).” At 5:30PM on a Saturday night all the small boutiques are closed. Many of the galleries are closed. There aren’t people on the streets – but there are huge crowds slowly beginning to form in every restaurant and bar. I’ve said my piece about Tremont. Instead, I’d like to divert your attention to Coventry.
Coventry is on the eastside. The wiki entry for Coventry? “Is associated with Northeast Ohio‘s artistic, musical, bohemian, hippie and emerging hipster communities and is the center of Cleveland‘s creative class, inviting comparisons to the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco and Greenwich Village in New York City, although on a smaller scale.” A bit of a stretch? Maybe. But at 6PM on a Saturday night, in the middle of January when it is unseasonably warm, you find a vibrant strip with people all over. There’s a great mix of food and retail – and every shop has their door propped open at least until 8PM. There are landmarks like Big Fun, a vintage toy and nostalgia shop, Dave’s Cosmic Subs, Tommy’s restaurant (doing vegan before vegan was cool) and the aforementioned Grog Shop. The shops range from hippie to boutique and Record Revolution is still plugging away, even though I think most of their business comes from the head shop in the back. The restaurants aren’t nearly as unique as Tremont. The beauty of that, though, is that they don’t attract nearly as “unique” a clientele.
On Saturday night, we drove away from the Cleveland Brew Shop disappointed. When we pulled up on Coventry, though, it was like going to an old friend’s house. Instantly we were ready for round 2. We breathed an audible sigh of relief when we stepped out on the street. I have and will always be a west side girl (I still can’t find ANYTHING outside of the near east side of Cleveland because their streets don’t make any sense). I’d much rather spend my time enjoying what the east side has to offer, though.