East CLE: Before & after pics will surprise you

Posted at 11:42 PM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-27 09:14:26-05

A set of two photos, before and after, give a glimpse of East Cleveland that may surprise you.

One shot is lush and green, the other is dry and desolate. A before and after separated by two years.

They were snapped by local photographer Johnny Joo, famous for capturing abandoned buildings throughout Northeast Ohio and the nation.

"It gives you a look at life after people," Joo said.

The first was taken in January of 2014 with professional equipment. The second was captured just a few days ago on a cellphone camera.

"It looks like the world would look like in an apocalypse," Joo said.

The street is Elderwood Ave. in East Cleveland -- gritty and grimy, block after block left lifeless.

When Joo took the first photos, trees were growing out of windows and into windows, and ivy covered every inch of boarded-up apartment buildings long left vacant. Trash can be seen scattered in every image.

Now, the trees are long gone and for the most part, so is the trash. The second photo may look like things are getting worse -- but slowly, it's improving.

According to East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton, that's thanks to the men from Arco Recycling, who took it upon themselves to clean up the streets pro bono.

Duwayne Walls was part of that team.

"We took out trees, took out the trash, took away the hiding spots," Walls said. "It's definitely getting better,"

Better -- even though at first glance, the photos may not seem to show it.

"But hopefully in time, it'll come back to what it used to be and to what East Clevelanders know it can be," Walls said.

Mayor Norton said the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is planning a green infrastructure project at the intersection of Elderwood and Wymore.

That will result in the demolition of some of the vacant apartment buildings within the next 60 days.

The project will be installed over the next 12 months or so, Norton said.