The best part about being raised in Cleveland, Ohio was that I got to experience both city and suburban life. I got to experience the towering buildings and concrete streets while simultaneously getting a taste of life on the slower, simpler side. The worst part about growing up in Cleveland? It can often feel like people have made up their minds about what it's like to be a "Clevelander" without ever visiting. Like any city, it can lay claim to some embarrassing things, such as the nickname "Mistake By The Lake," which likely stems from the decades-ago oil fire on the Cuyahoga River that ran into Lake Erie. But just like an other mid-sized city, Cleveland isn't the sum of its past mistakes. Life in the Cleve boasts an exciting nightlife that's rapidly expanding daily. We've got amazing food. Our sports teams are on the up and up. There's plenty of things to do and see. And C-Town is brimming with culture. Still though, the myths about growing up and living in Cleveland persist.
Cleveland isn't just another Detroit or Buffalo stereotype. Yeah, it's gray and depressing in the winter, but I assume that can be said about lots of other big cities during the long and dreary when it snows nonstop. I might be biased (because I live here and I love it), but most, if not all, of the misconceptions about The Forest City are entirely off-base. At the same time, if the stereotypes about life in Cleveland keep people out, then maybe that's a good thing (more for me to love of the city I love).
Here are some of the biggest misconceptions I've heard — and reasons why they're so totally wrong:
Myth #1: "There Are No Jobs!"
True, once upon a time, Cleveland was all about its industrial ties, but the modern day city is brimming with opportunity in literally every field imaginable. As of November 2015, Cleveland's unemployment rate was just 4.4 percent and the city proudly added over 30,000 jobs. How's that for growth?
Myth #2: "There's Nothing To Do At Night"
This couldn't be further from the truth. Downtown Cleveland offers multiple districts that each include a strip of bars and clubs, that cater to the Youngs and the Not So Youngs equally. Not to mention that our very own West Side Market is home to tons of great eats and dive bars.
Myth #3: "It's Too Hot And Humid During The Summer!"
OK, fair point. But aren't summers pretty disgusting in any city? The difference with Cleveland, though, is the offering of tons of public beaches to cool down at. And I mean that pretty literally. With the luxury of a Great Lake at our disposal (sup, Lake Erie!), we get to enjoy legit beaches during the hot and sticky months.
Myth #4: "Are You Sure It's Safe?"
Because of high-profile cases, Cleveland's garnered a reputation for violence and high-crime rates. But in reality, according to a 2014 FBI Crime Report, the violent crime rates in Cleveland were the lowest they'd been in 2014. The city does remain one with a high crime rate nationally, but falls behind cities like Oakland, Baltimore, and Detroit. That said, there are plenty of safe communities to live in and commute from, and you're just as likely to find lovely, compassionate neighbors here as you would be anywhere else in the world.
Myth #5: "But There's No Culture!"
Ha! OK. Because of others' ability to be so quick to view Cleveland as a depressing steam town, people often automatically assume we have no culture or creativity in us. Unfortunately for them, this couldn't be further from the truth. Aren't we the home of the famed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? (Yes.) Is The Cleveland Orchestra one of the top five in the world? (You bet.) Do we boast the country's second biggest theater district in our very own Playhouse Square? (Yep.)
In addition to tons of pop-up markets throughout the year and the decades old West Side Market that serves fresh and local meats, produce, and baked goodness, the many, more artsy Cleveland neighborhoods regularly host art shows and art walks outside.
Myth #6: "I Heard The Schools Aren't Safe"
Hey, you know what they say about assuming? Well it's absolutely true, especially when it comes to talking about C-Town's schools. Cleveland is a huge city and that means there are tons of opportunities to find schools that suit your and your child's personal needs (and that includes safety). You might not like the schools in one part of the city for whatever reason, but you're probably guaranteed to find one you love close by. Plus, a recent Forbes report insisted that Cleveland's young and educated have been on the rise since 2000.
Myth #7: "It's Not Very Big On Community"
Pause. I'm not sure about the exact number of our Irish population in Cleveland, but I am sure about the huge deal our annual St. Patrick's Day parade is, as well as the annual Cleveland Pride parade. And then there's the yearly Parade The Circle hosted by the Cleveland Museum of Art, which entails a parade and collection of games and crafts for kids all day long. Oh, and how could I forget our very own Little Italy, which usually has droves of people crowing the streets to sample every cannoli and piece of ziti available. TBH, there are so many communities here that it's actually hard to not feel a part of something.
Myth #8: "Everyone Grows Up And Then They Leave"
If this is true, then it is equally true that the majority of them come back. Most of the people I know and meet are Cleveland natives, intent on staying in their hometown and growing with it. Cleveland Clinic is one of the country's top hospitals, and Case Western Reserve University sees students from all over the world. And with marketing startups and even Fortune 500 companies like Warren Buffett's Lubrizol Corporation based in Cleveland or surrounding suburbs, the possibility for the kids who grew up here to stay here grows every day.