Look at a map and notice all the lines. County lines and city lines and state lines. All established without any real basis in anything. That is to say, man-made.
A big fan of How the States Got Their Shapes, I love seeing how those borders came to be. Look around this area, you see a mix of very basic, boxy counties (Portage and Medina for example) alongside the keystone-shaped Cuyahoga or the jigsaw puzzle piece of Summit.
All-in-all, these are still the work of men and have very little meaning in the grand scheme. Borders are fluid, especially in a mobile society as ours.
With that in mind, where does Cleveland fit into the greater portion of the United States? Ohio, as a whole, is considered Midwest. Ah, Midwest…a very broad term for anything west of Pennsylvania, east of Colorado, and north of Texas. Not specific at all and covering a wide, wide, wide range of cities, states, and people. But how else can we be classified?
There’s the Cleveland as a Rust Belt city. Accurate, as far as classifications. A 20th century industry city struggling with 21st century problems. The Rust Belt itself, depending on whose definition you use, coincides with much of the Midwest. And we share common traits with those non-Midwest Rust Belt cities, the Buffalos and Bethlehems. But who are we most like? Chicago or New York? Pittsburgh or Omaha?
Cleveland is the mixing pot, the tidewater, of two regions. It is the eastern point of the Midwest and the western point of the East Coast. Settled by New Englanders but with a Midwestern mentality.
After Katrina hit New Orleans, a benefit show discussed the flavor of that city. New Orleans, as they described it, is the northernmost port of the Caribbean, the westernmost port of Africa, and the southernmost port of the Deep South. In essence, it is a sum of its influences, and a great mix for it. That is what Cleveland is, a port between the Midwest and the East Coast.
Really, we are what we are.