No matter what distance you run on May 21, your journey will begin in downtown Cleveland.
What better place to start than the most visited of the downtown neighborhoods?
The Gateway District is home to both the Cavaliers and Indians, more than 60 restaurants and bars and, on Ontario Street just south of Huron Road, the starting line of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. You’ll approach the 6.5-acre park known as Public Square that was part of the original 1796 design of the city and redeveloped last year to include more green space and become even friendlier for outdoor activities.
Traveling along Euclid you’ll notice several historic buildings that now serve as eateries, retail shops and residential units as well as the restored Cleveland Trust Rotunda building, which is now home to Heinen’s Grocery Store at the southeast corner of E. 9th and Euclid. The red brick structure across from it on the southwest corner is the Schofield Building, which was designed by architect Levi Schofield. Another of his works, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, can be seen at Public Square.
As you approach Cleveland State University you enter the Playhouse Square neighborhood, home to the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York City and the place to come to see touring Broadway productions, concerts, operas, dance and other performances. The original five theaters in the area — the Ohio, Connor Palace, State, Allen and Hanna — were built in the 1920s and hosted silent films, theater and vaudeville productions, then were mostly abandoned in the 1960s as television and movies took over as the most sought-after entertainment. A massive undertaking to restore and reopen the theaters began in the 1970s and the area now hosts more than 1,000 events per year. You’ll run past all but the Hanna when traveling on Euclid before turning left on East 17th Street.
Another left on St. Clair brings you to the recently-dubbed 9-12 District, which is the former financial district. In addition to many mid-century modern office buildings, you’ll pass the Galleria at the corner of E. 9th and St. Clair Avenue. It’s home to the Hungarian Heritage Museum, which is free to the public and open Tuesdays through Fridays.
Turning right, you’ll head north on East 9th Street and pass the recently-renovated Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building and the world’s largest rubber stamp at Willard Park, adjacent to City Hall. At 28 feet tall and 49 feet long, the “FREE” stamp is tough to miss. It is one of 44 sculptures by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen of everyday items enlarged to a massive size and located in cities around the world.
That brings you to North Coast Harbor, which is famous for being home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center and First Energy Stadium, home of the Browns. There are plenty of less prominent attractions in this neighborhood that are worth a visit, however, including the International Women’s Air and Space Museum, which is located at Burke Lakefront Airport and is not only free but also open daily. The USS Cod is also open daily seasonally for tours, and Tuesday nights during the summer there is free yoga at Voinovich Park. Check out northcoastharbor.org for a full schedule of activities.
You’ll then pass through the north end of the Warehouse District, Cleveland’s first mixed use neighborhood and home to the Warehouse District Festival in August as well as several nightclubs and bars.
Some of the sights to see as you enter The Flats include the Flats East Bank development project, which is a 23-acre mixed use project featuring a publicly-accessible boardwalk, restaurants and the Cleveland Metroparks Water Taxi, the former Watermark restaurant space, where Zach Bruell plans to open a new restaurant and brewery, the Carter Road Lift Bridge and, of course, the Cuyahoga River.
The finish line of the race is also downtown on Detroit Avenue/West Superior Avenue just before West 3rd Street and Public Square. Claim your medal and let the celebration begin!
That’s just a quick rundown of some of the things you’ll see as you make your way through Downtown Cleveland on May 21. For a more leisurely exploration come back for the Take a Hike walking tour programs presented by Dollar Bank that are free and run May 16-Sept. 17 and will guide you through the different neighborhoods of downtown giving lots of history along the way. Visit www.clevelandgatewaydistrict.com/history/heritage-tourism for more details.