Neighborhood Series: Collinwood

 

Not long ago, Collinwood was considered a down and out neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side.  Even four years ago, when we went there to visit Beachland Ballroom, the place had little to offer in the way of restaurants, shopping or other diversions.

Spaces gallery Waterloo

But even then there was a sense of community where neighbors came to set up booths and were selling soul food and hand-made items. The city was starting to resurface Waterloo, the main retail street, and sidewalks were being updated.

 

Artists began to discover the area and found it affordable and a welcoming place for their talents. When we visited this time storefronts were fixed up and changed to galleries, art studios, vinyl record shops, vintage clothing stores and “Made in 216” Cleveland merchandise outlets. A few coffee houses and cafes had opened. People with a definite savior faire and artistic bent were seen.  It seemed you needed a tattoo, facial piercing, or multicolored hair to be a denizen of Waterloo.lovely women Waterloo

 

We went there for the Waterloo Art Fest after another rainy Saturday morning and, even at 4pm, the street was busy with booths and the stores were open to lingering shoppers.  There were tables for young student artists and a great diversity of ages, ethnicities, and races mingling. Pride in place had replaced littered and un-mowed yards. But, unique to Collinwood, were the many murals on large brick walls. Without knowing where you might be, you knew you weren’t in Lakewood or even funky Coventry.

 

This neighborhood felt real, lived in, both old and new at the same time. Music Saves

 

Driving a block north or south off Waterloo revealed houses that still needed some TLC.  But somehow I got the feeling that, without a ton of money, people living in this neighborhood would be boosting “I live in Collinwood.  Come for a visit.”