I’ll start with a disclaimer, I’m from a little rival town called Pittsburgh. Before you close this page and look at something else, let me tell you that I love Cleveland and, counting my time at John Carroll University, have called it my home for going on 13 years. I didn’t grow up with Cleveland Metroparks and never really knew a lot about them until after college. Even then I didn’t really know much except that I used take my lunch there occasionally. Over the years, I grew more acquainted with the parks and what Cleveland Metroparks offered. Taking an outsider’s perspective as someone who moved here and regardless of working for the organization now, I understand how much of a gem Cleveland Metroparks is to Cleveland and something that we should be truly proud of.
Pittsburgh does not have a major urban park system like Cleveland Metroparks. Growing up in the South Hills, I had South Park (yes, just like the TV show) that had shelters where EVERYONE in Pittsburgh had their high school graduation party and a few smaller parks around town that the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy owned like Schenley and Highland, but nothing like what we have here. Nothing the size of Cleveland Metroparks Reservations. Nothing like the programming offerings and activities for all ages that Cleveland Metroparks offers. Nothing like Edgewater Live.
Pittsburgh has some great waterfront spaces along the rivers including the river walk on the North Shore by Heinz Field and PNC Park, Point State Park, Station Square and even Sandcastle Water Park. Now, with the Lakefront properties, I have to say Cleveland has the advantage. Lakefront parks like Edgewater Park, Wendy Park/Whiskey Island and Euclid Beach provide the scenic escape that I never experienced along the rivers in Pittsburgh. Even our riverfront restaurant, Merwin’s Wharf, provides a patio connection to the water that is rare in Pittsburgh.
Clevelanders tend to compare our city to other cities. When it comes to the things that Cleveland Metroparks brings to the table, we should be comparing other cities to us. Going beyond my comparisons with Pittsburgh, think about this: Chicago does not have a beachfront concert series like Edgewater Live. How many times have we heard someone, comparing Cleveland to Chicago. Guess what? We’ve got a leg up on the Windy City there.
Again, bear in mind this is coming from a tried and true Pittsburgher who still loves his hometown and who is not trying to start a civil war with his Yinzer brethren. Not only do I call this city home now, but my future wife does too as she has moved here from Pittsburgh. From an outsider living among you, I’m saying that Cleveland Metroparks adds an element to this city that people take for granted living here their entire lives. An element that you don’t find in Pittsburgh or most cities our size or larger. I’m proud to come to work at Cleveland Metroparks every day knowing that.