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Cleveland has always been a bit of a comeback kid, a city ordained for greatness with a string of raw luck and an indelible spirit to navigate both. Situated as a prime geographic transportation hub where Lake Erie meets the Cuyahoga River, Cleveland was primed for a manufacturing and transportation boom from its inception. And boom it did, emerging as a post-depression powerhouse in not only industry but culture, with the Great Lakes Exposition of 1936 leading the way. The city's successes extended to sports as well, with the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns extremely successful runs of 40s and 50s, leading to Cleveland being unofficially dubbed the “City of Champions”. But fitting to Cleveland’s other title of “All-American City”, the nation’s successes were theirs to share, but the problems - they always seemed to hit Cleveland a bit harder than most. By the 1960s the local economy stagnated, the Cuyahoga River famously caught fire (twice) due to excessive pollution, and the city finally declared bankruptcy in 1978 - the first major American city since the Great Depression to default on federal loans.
Cleveland doesn’t know when to quit though, and has been on the upswing since the 1990s, gradually repairing its city, industry and quality of life. Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field), the first of the retro-modern ballpark wave gave the city a needed jolt, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame helped bring back some of the city’s international appeal. Over time many of the rusted-out factory shells became clubs, restaurants and family friendly destinations, and the former down on its luck city has cleaned up its act (and thankfully Cuyahoga’s water, too).
Cleveland today has emerged as one of the nation’s most underrated cities, boasting world class attractions in the aforementioned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, nearby Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame, museums galore befitting of the city’s rich history and numerous waterfront parks enjoying the perks of its perfect location. The stunning waterfront locale isn’t lost on the locals either, as nearly every bar and restaurant worth its salt has an outdoor patio - in a city this pretty, you’d want to be outside as often as possible too (season permitting).
Through all of its ebbs and flows, Cleveland has never relinquished its title as a die-hard sports city - Clevelanders live and breathe Browns football, Indians baseball and Cavs basketball. That passion and patience finally paid off when the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals, bolstered by the superhuman efforts of Cleveland’s favorite son, LeBron James, to snap the Cleveland sports curse - the first major sports championship in the city since the 1964 Browns.
Cleveland's unique mix of grit and sophistication, rough edges and gorgeous scenery make this plucky city one of the nation’s most unique - and inspirational destinations.