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Cleveland, Living with Legends


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    published 10-12-2019

    In 1669 the French explorer de La Salle, the first European in the Ohio was met by the Iroquois Indians who migrated there in the early 1600s. The river and the state would be named the Iroquois word for “beautiful river”. The land was a bountiful native beaver hunting ground and although the Iroquois were quickly decimated and supplanted by the tribes including the Delaware and Shawnee, the French established posts to trade with the natives. After the Revolutionary War, in 1800, as part of the Northwest Territory, Ohio became part of the American frontier.  www.thisiscleveland 

    picture of guitarwelcoming you to cleveland 
    Former Revolutionary soldier, General Moses Cleaveland, was hired in 1796 to survey the area and one of the first new towns on the shore of the Cuyahoga River was founded by him and named in his honor. The “a” was dropped in the 1831. Cleveland, from the outset, was a beacon for events and legendary individuals and early on noteworthy Native Americans made their mark on the region. 
    Stigwandish, “Standing Stone”, was a Seneca chief who assisted Cleaveland’s survey party and during the War of 1812 he alerted the settlers to an impending British attack. Tecumseh, "Shooting Star", was one of the country’s most historic leaders. He vowed to resist white incursion onto tribal land by uniting all the tribes, creating their own country and using armed resistance.  

    lebron james shoes sketch of a woman wearing a hat

    Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society provides an excellent introduction to Northeast Ohio’s legendary figures from 1790 to the present. The center’s Cleveland Starts Here® includes a pictorial timeline and a video kiosk with pictures and biographical information, the first map of the city and artifacts. The complex also features the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, Carl & Louis Stokes Making History, Kidzibits Hands-on Gallery, Chisholme Halle Costume Wing and the restored Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel. Chisholm Halle Costume Wing. www.wrhs.org 

    picture of Garrett Morgan gas mask for miners invented by Garett Morgan
    (Marker photo courtesy of  PECK)  

    Garrett Morgan’s parents were slaves and in 1895 he moved to Cleveland and, after starting as a sewing machine repairman, he was wealthy by the 1920s and an inventor of some note. He patented the first traffic light and in 1916 a gas mask that saved the lives of miners trapped beneath Lake Erie and was ultimately used by fire departments and in WWI. A plaque honoring his achievements is at the Garrett A. Morgan Water Works. 

    marker at league park gate at League Park


    League Park originally opened in 1891 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The Negro Leagues, Womens League, Babe Ruth and Satchell Paige are among the people who played there. The 2-story ticket booth houses the Baseball Heritage Museum with its displays dedicated to the diverse history of the game. Memorabilia, photographs, uniforms and other artifacts contribute to the interpretations. www.baseballheritagemuseum.org


    Branch Manager William Bradford brings the legendary Langston Hughes to life in the 1998 Langston Hughes  Library Branch. Hughes attended Cleveland’s Central High School, the first to enroll blacks before the Civil War, and attributed his years there as a stimulus to his imagination and desire to write. He was the class poet and editor of the school annual and would go on to become the “Poet Laureate of the Negro People”. The library’s special collection showcases photographs, books and documents. Highlights of the collection are his 1920 yearbook and his poem, “A Negro Speaks of Rivers” written across the ceiling. Large sculptures on the library exterior depict different forms of protest. Hughes boarded in the attic of the home at 2266 86th St. from 1916-20.   

    long blue dress

    The Buckland Museum of Witchcraft & Magick opened in 1966 and relocated to Cleveland in 2015 to interpret legendary stories in an unbiased manner. The museum chronologically and anthropologically explores folklore and the paranormal through a collection of artifacts, photographs and historic objects. Highlights of the tour are the first Wiccan headdress, Raymond Buckland’s purple ceremonial robe, a centuries old mandrake root and a tarot card display. A personal card reading can be arranged on the premises.  www.bucklandmuseum.org 

    picture of Eliot Ness

    Cleveland Police Museum relates the history of crime and punishment in the city. On view are photos, documents, firearms and a jail cell but the big draw here is the Eliot Ness display that focuses on the 1935-38 Torso Murders. This series of 13 murders was never solved by Safety Director Eliot Ness and even after the murders ceased the killer continued to taunt Ness. The case remains open. www.clevelandpolicemuseum.org 

    home of superman createrJerry Siegel plaque on house of superman creater, Jerry Siegel

    Next stop, the birthplace of the legendary Superman. In 1932 18-year old Jerry Siegel created Superman at 10622 Kimberly Ave. The home is privately owned but fans can take a picture with the signature “S” on the exterior. A plaque marks the spot. 
     from movie, “A Christmas Story”, Ralphie Parker residence

    sign at  house from movie, “A Christmas Story”, Ralphie Parker residence  interior of house in movie, “A Christmas Story”, Ralphie Parker residence

    The legendary holiday movie, “A Christmas Story”, Ralphie Parker residence has been restored and is now part of a complex that includes the house, garage, museum and visitor center. Tours of the house are unique because visitors can touch and sit and examine items in the house. The museum showcases props and costumes from the movie and visitors can purchase their own Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Model Air Rifle or lady leg lamp. The guided tour led by Ernie Scales is excellent and filled with movie information, photo ops and merriment.  www.achristmasstoryhouse.com 

    Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    plaque of rock and roll singers at Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Garage band exhibit at Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


    The 7-floor Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was established in 1983 and is a glass incarnation of an ancient pyramid built to preserve the people’s legacy and legends. The Rock Hall shares the history and power of music through extensive use of audio, video and an incomparable collection of artifacts, stage outfits and memorabilia. Highlights of a tour are the Early Influences, Rock Legends, culturally thematic galleries and The Garage where you get to channel your inner rock star.

    Rapper's exhibit at Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    Early influencers of rock and roll at Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    Janet Jackson exhibit at Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    Johnny Cash bus at Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    After visiting the Hall of Fame end your tour with the Connor Theater presentation of “The Power of Rock Experience”. Before you depart stop in the gift shop and, just outside, Johnny Cash’s tour bus. rockhall.com 

    Westin Cleveland Hotel recently underwent a $64-million renovation. The 484-room hotel is centrally located and is walking distance to many attractions. The hotel offers great views, exceptional service and a WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio. There are an on-site Starbucks and Urban Farmer, farm-to-table restaurant. The food is locally sourced and cooked to perfection.  
    Fountain in Cleveland
    Mingle with the legends. @TheCle 




    Renee Gordon has written a weekly travel column for the Philadelphia Sun Newspaper for the past fifteen years and has published articles on local, national and international travel in numerous publications. Her columns focus on cultural, historic and heritage tourism and her areas of specialization are sites and attractions related to African American and African Diaspora history. Renee has been a guest radio commentator on various aspects of tourism and appeared in a documentary, "The Red Summer of 1919". As an educator for thirty years she was an English teacher, event and meeting planner, served as an educational consultant and intern-teacher mentor. She contributed to textbooks on women's history and classroom management and has facilitated workshops on both subjects. Renee considers herself a "missionary journalist" and as such she continues to promote heritage and sustainable tourism.

    2013 Recipient of African Diaspora World Tourism Flame Keeper in Media Award for Travel Writing

    IABTW- International Association of Black Travel Writers
    PBJ - Progressive Black Journalists


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