The real secret: Cleveland was already cool

CLEVELAND - It’s nothing new to Cleveland residents. National media outlets praise the city’s revival efforts every year. Visitors coming to Cleveland for the first time applaud the food, the music and the Midwest vibe—an opinion many Clevelanders already know to be true.

The latest article to hail our city comes from The Los Angeles Times. A positive article highlighting Cleveland’s comeback and rise to national fame, tells the tale of our post-RNC and post-NBA Championship days. But these nationally recognized events were not the tipping point for Cleveland’s comeback of cool. They were, rather, an added bonus to a city very much in touch with its Rust Belt DNA that is more than willing to push the envelope.

There’s no doubt that the Republican National Convention attracted thousands of visitors who normally might not have a reason to put Cleveland on the list of places to go. The Cavs winning the 2016 NBA Finals showed the world we were unforgettable. These events added momentum to the behind-the-scenes efforts that were long in the works.

Restaurants and art—from galleries to interactive art studios—are reviving neighborhoods from the ground up. The Waterloo Arts District is a saturated with artists making the North Collinwood neighborhood a destination for arts. From Praxis Fiber Workshop, where anyone can come in and make their own fiber art, to Zygote Ink House, which turned a decrepit house into a residence for working artists and a place to keep the art of printmaking alive, the neighborhood is trying to become Cleveland's artistic pocket.

One can't mention Waterloo Road without talking about the first anchor of the neighborhood: The Beachland Ballroom — a music venue credited to bringing top musical acts to Cleveland.

In March 2014, Destination Cleveland, formerly known as the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland, Inc., started to heavily campaign and act as ambassadors for Cleveland even before residents championed their own city.

In 2012, the non-profit conducted a study asking how many residents would recommend Cleveland as a visiting destination. Destination Cleveland found 33 percent would tell a friend or family member to visit Cleveland. Fast forward to 2017 and a new study shows 77 percent of residents would recommend Cleveland.

It's not so much about the main attractions that make our city a place to visit, work and live but the long-standing characteristics of hard work, loyalty and adaptability that are engrained in the fabric of our city. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the historic Severance Hall are world-class institutions that Cleveland is commonly known for, but it's the less talked about institutions and projects that reflect the deeper pulse of Cleveland and the passion and drive that is constantly brewing.

While we may have lost our title as the leader in 'post industrial' manufacturing, we never stopped making things, despite popular belief. We make things that are relevant to the times and the demand of modern cities. With investments in infrastructure, technology, and medicine, Cleveland is moving forward while still holding on to its roots.

The Culinary Launch Kitchen helps budding food entrepreneurs test their products in a commercial setting without a high financial risk. The kitchen has launched popular Cleveland brands like Randy's Pickles, Backattack Snacks, Brew Nuts, Rust Belt Co. Peppers, among others and still growing.

The number of breweries is exploding in the city followed by a growing, coffee-producing scene that has experts asking if Cleveland could be the coffee capital of the Midwest. The Cleveland Flea, an outdoor market supporting local entrepreneurs, has attracted thousands to the up and coming St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.

Our involvement in making music history be considered just as synonymous with Cleveland as jazz is to New Orleans. The Playhouse Square is a legendary venue that has reached national fame but the smaller theaters like Karamu House should be placed in close ranking because of its impact to African American performing arts. It's credited to giving Langston Hughes, Ruby Dee and Bill Cobbs their starts in the industry.

It's inevitable that there will be more articles written about our fine city. But, hopefully, we'll start fading away from words like 'up-and-coming' and 'revitalized.' Because, the truth is, as true Clevelanders know, Cleveland is already cool. 

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