I was in Cleveland last night and took some associates from the firm out to dinner. (Thanks very much for the company, ladies!) They decided we should go to a restaurant across the street from the West Side Market at the corner of West 25th St. and Lorain Avenue in the Ohio City area of Cleveland.
The West Side Market, which opened in 1912, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Cleveland. Made of yellow brick, with a sturdy yet gracefully curved facade and a stunning clock tower that features cross-hatched brickwork, the West Side Market is an architectural gem. It still serves as a functioning market, although it was closed for the day by the time we arrived in the area. It is one of those lovely buildings that makes older neighborhoods great.
Unfortunately, the neighborhood around the West Side Market seems to be struggling somewhat. As we drove up, we saw a policeman handcuffing a suspect next to a patrol car in the entranceway of an apartment building, and on the opposite side of the street a titanically drunk man was weaving uncertainly back and forth as he made his way down the sidewalk. These are the kinds of things that make you question whether the neighborhood is very safe. Although our restaurant served good food and offered an excellent selection of beers, it was largely deserted during the early evening hours, and I found myself wondering if the security issues were affecting its patronage.
According to my dinner companions, the neighborhood and other supporters are working hard to preserve the West Side Market, and obviously that kind of campaign is important. Our brief visit to the area, however, also indicated that physical structures are only part of the equation. Urban neighborhoods will thrive only if residents feel safe in walking the streets and visitors feel secure as they drop by to shop, eat, or enjoy a fine Belgian ale. It looks like the West Side Market area still has some work to do in that regard.