This afternoon I made my way over to the corner of W.6th and St. Clair for the opening reception for “Warehouse District Anthology”, a series of display panels that focus on different aspects of the Warehouse Districts history. The first two panels, “Architectural Style and Architects” and “The Garment Industry” have been installed on W.6th street and will soon be joined by 9 additional panels to be placed around the district. Each installation is designed by artist Corrie Slawson, written by Thomas Yablonsky and produced in conjunction with the Historic Warehouse District and Land Studio.
It’s exciting to see the continued embrace of Cleveland’s history, and these panels help bring those stories to the visitors that now spend significant time downtown. The panels tell a different story on the history of the distric, and are accompanied by historic photos selected by the artist.
“Architectural Style and Architects” bring attention to the style of the buildings were or are still present in the neighborhood, and the architects that led the way. Buildings that have been overlooked for years and may seem insignificant to the mega skyscrapers of today were once respected masterpieces that drew the admiration of experts from across the country and Europe. “The Garment Industry” tells the story of how the Warehouse District should have really been known as the “Historic Garment District” due to the overwhelming presence of the textile industry as late as recently as the early 1980’s. Suits, cloaks, hats, parochial uniforms and other garments were manufactured, sold and altered and their successors can still be seen today in brands like Hugo Boss which still have a manufacturing presence in Northeast Ohio.
Having grown up in Cleveland while Cleveland was on it’s downhill slide, I heard a lot of commentary from people over the years who would lament about what Cleveland used to be, but no longer was. One of the great transformations that has taken place over the last decade is a new generation of Clevelanders showing an admiration of what Cleveland was, and finding new ways to bring those stories back while at the same time defining a new direction for Cleveland. They are moving into the factories that made cloaks, and hats, and suits. They are dining and grocery shopping and drinking coffee’s on the sidewalks that were frequented by laborers and seamstresses. They are looking for ways to create public spaces from the empty spaces that are now filled with parking lots.
Initiatives like the Warehouse District Anthology are great ways to bring Cleveland’s past to a new generation of residents who can appreciate it for what it is, but still see the potential for what it can become. If you find yourself in the warehouse district make sure you take a moment to check these displays out.