Few places can vaunt the kind of mojo that is happening in Cleveland’s east-side community of Collinwood.
A new generation of artists and performers are showcasing their work along the neighborhood’s timeworn streets saturated with a history rich in blue-collar grit and in a locale that’s just steps from the Lake Erie shoreline.
The neighborhood, which is broken into three distinct sections, comes with its own hearty helping of history.
It’s where “America’s Polka King” Frankie Yankovich learned to play some serious polka tunes on his button box. It’s the community where turn-of-the-century immigrants from Ireland, Slovenia and Italy lived and worked. It was once one of the heaviest industrial areas in the world home to a major railroad switching point, huge freight yards and several manufacturing facilities.
Today, it boasts a new wave of arts and culture, distinctive culinary offerings and an eclectic array of small businesses.
Waterloo Arts District
Undoubtedly one of the most fetching parts of Collinwood is the Waterloo Arts District, where you’ll find everything from indie music to vintage threads.
The centerpiece of the half-mile corridor is indie music’s ground zero: The Beachland Ballroom. Located inside a former Croatian social hall, this music club is a haven for music ranging from alt rock and psychedelic funk to rockabilly and EDM.
Waterloo’s devotion to music flows into its nearly 50 locally owned businesses including vinyl record shops Music Saves and Blue Arrow Records. You can also scope Cleveland's music history through photography at Space: ROCK Gallery.
Original art is on display within the walls of the experimental Maria Neil Art Project, inside the lofts of emerging artists at Waterloo Arts, and amidst Mother Nature at the Waterloo Sculpture Garden.
Other boutiques tout their quirky charm with the locally designed apparel curated in Native CLE and vintage toys inside STAR POP Vintage Modern.
Get your grub and suds on at Citizen Pie (pizza), Callaloo Cafe (Caribbean), Millard Fillmore Presidential Library (craft beer and live tunes--seriously), Packy Malley’s (craft beer) and old-school sausage shop Raddell’s.
Want to catch it all in one full swoop? Get to the Waterloo Arts Festival, which happens every June. Or, check out the Walk All Over Waterloo, which are neighborhood gallery hops occurring on the first Friday of every month.
E. 185th St.
Two miles east of Waterloo is the E. 185th St. retail district.
Here’s where you can partake in a little Cleveland-style dining at the perennial favorite Muldoon’s Saloon, which has been Cleveland’s go-to Irish joint for the last 35+ years. Or, experience more sophisticated noshing at newbie The Standard and local fave Bistro 185. Then, tip back a few cold ones at The Cleveland Brewery.
E. 185th St. also is home to the historic La Salle Theatre, which was built in 1927 and saved from demolition in 2009. Thanks to a massive renovation project, it will soon (May 2017) become the La Salle Arts & Media Center complete with three new storefronts, a multi-use community room, high-tech theater space and six apartments.
Head about a mile north and you’ll find yourself on the sprawling shores of Lake Erie. This shoreline, which is considered part of the Euclid Creek Reservation is owned by the Cleveland Metroparks.
Thanks in large part to the Metropark’s ongoing commitment to improve this lakefront reservation, Collinwood’s beaches and parks are some of the cleanest and most enjoyable in Northeast Ohio. Picnic on the sandy beaches, charter a boat out of Wildwood Marina, scope the historic structures that were once part of legendary Euclid Beach amusement park and observe monarch butterflies at Villa Angela Beach.
On the RTA, catch the #39 or #39F Shoregate bus from Downtown Cleveland to points in Collinwood. Or, take the Redline rail line to the Stokes-Windermere Station, where you can catch the #37 E.185th St. bus for points along Lakeshore Blvd.
For those looking to drive, Collinwood can be very easily accessed off of I-90 (exits 180 and 182).