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TexasDude's avatar

What are some interesting facts or details about Cleveland, Ohio?

Asked by TexasDude (25274points) June 22nd, 2011

I came up with an idea for a new YA novel that came to me in a dream. Basically, I’m going to write about a fictional suburb of Cleveland, Ohio informally called “Spookyville” where the adults celebrate Halloween year round and the kids are really jaded with the whole thing. Conflict arises when the City of Cleveland tries to crack down on the festivities, and the citizens of Spookyville arm themselves against the National Guard, and the local kids are forced to defuse the burgeoning civil war.

I want to set the story in Cleveland because it just “feels right” to me. Plus, I feel a strange need to keep the plot true to my dream. The problem I am having is that I know next to nothing about the city of Cleveland, and as most of my novels are set in my home state of Tennessee, I just can’t reach the level of authenticity I want when writing about Ohio.

That’s where my lovely Flutherites come in, of course, particularly if you are a resident of Ohio or Cleveland. What can you tell me about the city’s geography? Its climate? The local government/political situation? I’m aware that most of this info is available on wikipedia, but I want to hear first hand accounts. What little details should I be aware of that will help me lend authenticity to my setting, especially since it is a setting I know nothing about?

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36 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

Curiously, Kent, Ohio is not too terribly far from Cleveland. There used to be a house in Kent and according to James Michener’s book on the Kent State Incident, the house is supposedly where the non-student “agitators” stayed (at least according to Governor Rhodes and his cronies). This same house was used by Alfred Hitchcock as the enigmatic house in Psycho. You baddies could take a road trip. Not sure what year the house was torn down, but could likely find out.

The alternative is that YOU take a road trip. I am in Columbus and could take you to Cleveland!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

That I live about an hour away. :P

TexasDude's avatar

@Kayak8 that’s actually really interesting, and that’s exactly the kind of detail I’m looking for to breathe life into this idea I’m toying with. I’ve been to Cincinnati and a few other parts of Ohio before (which I loved) and I was actually going to take a trip back up there this summer, but I had to scrub it. Thanks for the offer though, I’ll keep you in mind if things change. :-)

@ANef_is_Enuf hell, I’ll write you into the story if you like. I tend to do that with my friends anyway.

Kayak8's avatar

From what I can find, it seems the Kent State=Psycho House myth may be debunked. But it had not been at the time of Michener’s story . . . hmmm

tedibear's avatar

Happy to help…

Right now, the big government scandal is within Cuyahoga County (where Cleveland is located) regarding one of the commissioners and the county auditor. The FBI came in and swept the place. I would say to go to and put in Jimmy Dimora or Frank Russo or Cuyahoga County corruption scandal to get lots of info. Cleveland City schools aren’t great, although they keep trying to make things better. The mayor is Frank Jackson. (Oh, here’s a quote from a former mayor, Jane Campbell: “Trees make people happy.”) If you want to throw in some really old stuff, there’s former Mayor Ralph Perk with his hair on fire and the Cuyahoga River was also aflame once.

The climate has four distinct seasons. Winter is cold and depending on where you are, there can be a lot of snow. Geauga County gets more than most places. Spring is rainy and cool, in the high 30’s to low 60’s. Sometimes on the same day! Summer is humid, though nothing like Florida, and hot. We’ll get into the 90’s, though it’s mostly in the 80’s. Fall is like spring but with beautiful foliage.

A lot of people here are Ohio State fans. Maybe you want to work in something about the trouble that their football team is in?

Partying happens in the Flats. Great restaurants in Tremont and Ohio City. (Technically in the city of Cleveland. Those are just neighborhoods.) We’re getting a casino in 2012 in the old Higbee building. Construction is underway.

Teams to know: NFL: The Cleveland Browns. Play at Brown’s Stadium. Often referred to as the Brownies. Bernie Kosar & Vinnie Testaverde are former QB’s. I went to college with Bernie’s younger sister. We need not speak of her! Big Dawg is a fan who dresses as a dog and goes to the games. Die-hard fans sit in the Dawg Pound. NBA: The Cavaliers.Play at Quicken Loans Arena, generally called The Q. Mascot is Moon Dog. I’m sure you’ve heard enough about LeBron James for me to not go any further. MBL: The Cleveland Indians. Often referred to as The Tribe. Mascot is Slider, a large purple blobby thing. Play at Progressive Field, which used to be called Jacob’s Field for the previous owners. Was referred to as “The Jake.” AHL: Yes people, there is pro hockey in Cleveland. The Lake Erie Monsters are the AHL farm team for the Colorado Avalanche. Their mascot is a seagull named Sullivan C. Goal.

Radio staions: WMJI plays oldies, WNCX is classic rock, WMMS is rock. Michael Stanley is a DJ on WNCX these days. He had a very popular band – The Michael Stanley Band, aka MSB, that had a couple of top 40 hits. John Lanigan, Jimmy Malone and Chip Kulick are the morning guys on WMJI. At last count they were the most popular show in Cleveland. Or at least in the morning. WMMS was called Buzzard Radio because of their buzzard logo. Which comes from the buzzards always coming back to Hinckley, Ohio.

What else do you want to know?

TexasDude's avatar

@tedibear this is all excellent. I wish I could give you a hundred lurve for this info. What can you tell me about the suburbs of Cleveland? Where are the wealthy areas and poorer areas in relation to the city itself? Are there any rural areas nearby?

Joker94's avatar

This video hits a lot of good points.
I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

TexasDude's avatar

@Joker94 oh god, I lol’d hard. You owe me a new keyboard because I just shot cream soda out my nose all over this one.

tedibear's avatar

For rural, you have to go about a 30 to 45 minute drive either south, west or east. (The lake is north. No one lives in it.) Geauga county has a decent sized Amish population. The Geauga county fair is the largest county fair in Ohio. Chardon (also in Geauga County) gets huge amounts of snow. South to Medina county gets you some rural areas, but it is growing faster all the time. Portage county is about 45 minutes from downtown and is much like Geauga. Farms, though not as many as before, houses have more land, etc.

Suburbs… more money: East side: Beachwood, Shaker Hts., Cleveland Hts., University Hts., Pepper Pike, Solon, Orange, Chagrin Falls, Hunting Valley, Gates Mills and Bratenahl. West side: Rocky River, Lakewood, Brecksville, Westlake, These are just places that come to mind without getting my mapbook out.
Middle income: West: Parma, Parma Hts., Middleburg Hts., Berea, Brooklyn, Strongsville, Brook Park, North Olmsted,. East side: Richmond Hts., Mayfield Hts., Euclid,
Lower Income: Maple Hts., Garfield Hts., East Cleveland, Warrensville Hts., Bedford. These are all east side.
Oh! Somehow, could you work in the Cleveland Museum of Art? I love it there and can’t wait for the renovations to be done!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Bay Village is another suburb of Cleveland and is where Dr. Sam Sheppard and his family lived. He was accused, tried and went to jail for murdering his wife. There have been ample books and documentaries made about the case, since it was so controversial whether Dr. Sheppard committed the crime or not. Ten years later, he was acquitted. The television show and movie The Fugitive were loosely based on the details of this murder.

tedibear's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer -Excellent answer! I forgot all about Sam Sheppard! That’s a huge piece of Cleveland history.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@tedibear Our family lived in Bay Village for 14 years. Our parents used to play bridge with the couple who later moved into the Sheppard’s house. Our family was living in the neighborhood when the murder took place.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My apology for a 3rd post….Lake Erie could also be a source for the story. Not only the name would tie into the theme of Spookyville City, but from what our parents said, it was relatively polluted back in the 50s and 60s. If you read the section labeled “Ecosystems”, it might provide some fuel for fodder. There is also some information on that site regarding the weather conditions in Cleveland.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@tedibear I think the Canfield Fair is the largest in Ohio. Second largest in the country, to the best of my knowledge, actually.

TexasDude's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I’m totally going to find a way to integrate Dr. Sheppard and maybe even Lake Erie.

@everyone, here is the first chapter I hammered out between asking this question and just now. Thank you all so much for the inspiration and the ideas (more are still welcome, of course!)

The blistering rays of the July sun clawed at the back of my neck as I feverishly hacked away at this week’s Jack-o-Lantern. Stopping to take a sip of my Yoo-Hoo, I leaned back to admire my handiwork. Two triangles stared back at me above a jagged mouth that glistened with oozing pumpkin juice in the sun. I heard the front door to my house open behind me.

“Howard, honey, how is the pumpkin coming?” my mother asked from behind her vampy makeup. I leaned out of the way to give her a clear view.
“Oh,” she sighed.
“What, Mom?” I asked indignantly.
“It’s just so… generic.”

Somewhere between being old enough for Dad to trust me with his prized pumpkin-carving knives and my current age of 17, I had run out of ideas about how to breathe creative life into plump orange vegetables. I’d done faces, pop culture references, even cutesy messages over the years, but when you carve a pumpkin every week, you’re bound to run out of ideas eventually.

“Just put it with the others, I guess. Geeze, it’s a real scorcher out here,” she said as she withdrew back inside. The screen door slammed behind her.

My knees ached from sitting cross legged in the heat with a pumpkin in my lap for the past hour, but I heaved myself to my feet and set my latest work next to a progressively-deflating series of carvings from the last 6 weeks or so that included Yosemite Sam, a clown face, and the word “Hello.”

I wiped the sweat from my eyes and asked the blazing sun if other high schoolers led lives as bizarre as mine.

My name is Howie King (no relation to Stephen, though my parents, through creative obfuscation and liberal use of hyperbole, continue to insist that we may be cousins). I live in Spookyville, Ohio, which is actually a suburb of Greater Cleveland. No, my neighborhood isn’t actually called Spookyville, but that’s what the orange and black hand-made banner that perpetually hangs over our official city-installed sign says. Our territory, I guess you could say, encompasses a few horror-themed restaurants and shops, as well as my subdivision, and covers a square mile or two of land to the south of downtown Cleveland. We hold the honor of having the highest per-capita consumption of pumpkins in the entire United States, most of which we import from Geauga County, and our monthly costume contests draw tourists from as far away as East Cheery, Tennessee. Nobody can say we aren’t unique.

Some people move to certain towns because they are in a good school district, or because US News and World Report ranks the town as particularly environmentally friendly. People move to Spookyville because they really love Halloween. You see, in Spookyville, every day might as well be Halloween. Our houses are perpetually covered in elaborate decorations that we rotate out as the weather changes, our lawns are always bedecked with foam tombstones and plastic skeletons, and we kids used to go to school in costume until the school board unilaterally decided on a new dress code (that our parents found to be woefully draconian).

Most people find our little neighborhood to be lovably quirky, at best, and outright weird, at worst. A lot of the kids get so jaded with Halloween by the time they are 18 that they just move out, but for the most part, people have always let us do our thing as they watched with curious, if not occasionally judgmental eyes.

…for the most part.

This is the story of how Spookyville declared war on Cleveland, or how Cleveland declared war on us, I should say, and the resulting series of events that nearly killed us all.

And to think it all started with a boisterous meeting at the local home owners’ association.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’m moving there.

TexasDude's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf as soon as I woke up from this dream I had that I’m basing this story on, I rushed to wikipedia to see if there was such a place that I had subconsciously picked up somewhere. I was saddened to find out that it is purely an invention of my own mind.

Blackberry's avatar

@joker94 you beat me to it lol.
Come and look at, both of our buildings!~

TexasDude's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf since you are in the region, I will come to you :D

Brian1946's avatar

Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it was home to the Dawg Pound, until Cleveland’s NFL team (the Browns) moved to Baltimore.

TexasDude's avatar

@Brian1946 oh I forgot about that! I’ll have to find a way to incorporate it. Thanks!

Mariah's avatar

It contains a hospital complex so large it has its own zip code.

TexasDude's avatar

@Mariah whoa, I didn’t know that. I’m sure I can find a way to work that in… thank you!

Mariah's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Yup, Cleveland Clinic is second only to Mayo in most fields. It’s where I got my surgery, so I’ve been there a few times and you can feel free to PM me if you want any specifics on the facility; I can try to provide!

tedibear's avatar

@Brian1946 – We got our football team back, colors, name and all, in 1999. The Dawg Pound is also back in its screaming drunken glory. :D

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard – If you’re visiting @ANef_is_Enuf , please wave as you pass my house! :)

TexasDude's avatar

@tedibear why wave when I can come visit? :D

tedibear's avatar

Well, you’re welcome to visit as long as you can deal with cats and a certain amount of clutter. :D It really is a nice city to visit.

TexasDude's avatar

@tedibear I’m totally a cat person. And you should see my house. It looks like something off of hoarders only with books and antiques instead of old clothes and cat shit.

tedibear's avatar

Okay, but are you willing to wait until hockey season? Then we can take you to a game!

sliceswiththings's avatar

Like “the Nightmare before Christmas???” I have a ton of family in Cleveland! That is all.

TexasDude's avatar

@sliceswiththings, sure, except with more teen angst and civil war! :-)

tedibear's avatar

So? How goes the rest of the story??? Your adoring fans are eager to read more!

TexasDude's avatar

Haven’t written much since then… I’ve been a bit busy :-/

My writing mood comes and goes, too, but you’ll be the first to know when I write more!

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