Rediscovering Cleveland’s West Side
You can go home and, in fact, I like to! I grew up on the west side of Cleveland where 95 percent of all my relatives still reside. On a recent visit to my parents’ home in Rocky River, my “baby” cousin invited us to Kamm’s Corners to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary—she is married to one of Cleveland’s finest–a firefighter of Irish descent!
I couldn’t imagine why my cousin had chosen a bar in Kamm’s Corners. The last time I had been there, the community (or lack thereof) and infrastructure were fading. But as my husband, father and I turned east toward Fairview Park Hospital, I was amazed. First off, the hospital seemed to almost double in size with a sleek new addition; and it is now a member of the ever-growing Cleveland Clinic conglomerate.
As we approached West Park Station, I was amazed to see a bevy of activity and a host of renovated buildings. We found our group sitting half in and half out as the bar opened up to the sidewalk patio on Lorain Road. Oh, it was good to be in Cleveland. A live band rocked out, people danced, munched on pizza and corned beef, and a courtyard out back was so busy that it blended into PJ McIntyre’s Irish Pub.
In addition to countless old buildings being renovated and occupied, the neighborhood hosts a variety of activities, including a Farmer’s Market on Sundays (indoors through June 5 on W. 158 St., then outside) and the Hooley Festival on May 14 with Irish dancers, bagpipes, pop bands, kids activities and, of course, Guinness.
It was emotional to research the area after our night out. Childhood memories came flooding back as I searched www.WestParkHistory.com. My father fell in love with my mother at a local diner where she was a waitress, and I spent many summers and holidays playing with my cousins at my grandparents’ (who are deceased) home, which was just blocks from Kamm’s.
If you visit the area, make sure to arrive during daylight and explore the Emerald Necklace, Cleveland’s 22,000-acre Metroparks. The Rocky River Reservation, one of 16 Metropark areas, is just around the corner from Kamm’s, and features three golf courses, numerous fishing holes, picnic areas and hiking trails. It’s a beautiful area to take a drive and forget that the city is just above you.
Another adventure would include traveling east on Lorain Road to Ohio City at West 25th Street.
Along the way, stop at Sweet Lorain at 7105, an 8,000-square-foot vintage store filled to the brim with clothing, furniture and stuff (like these smiley face tchochkes).
Continue on to the emerging Ohio City, home to the venerable West Side Market and dozens of fine and fun restaurants and pubs, including the Great Lakes Brewing Company and the Torch Supper Club.