No matter how early I woke up, Kyle was always awake and ready to go before me. He scooted out of the hotel around 8 a.m. to explore Chicago on his own. I was going to spend some of the day with my friend Chris, who would take me all over the city on a photograph safari, but before I could leave, I had to get my clothes out of the dryer, which meant I didn’t get out of the hotel until 10:30 a.m.
My Pittsburgh visit lasted all of one-and-a-half days. It wasn’t long enough for me to really come to understand the city. I met a lot of nice and interesting people, but the city itself seemed to be in the middle of shaking off a long-time migraine. I think 2001 signaled the year when Pittsburgh was ready to move away from the idea that it would ever be Steel City again, and at the same time, the realization set in that all the chasms where coke and cobalt were removed would start to tighten into the Rust Belt.
In downtown Cleveland, surrounded by four right angles of traffic, stands The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, or known locally as Cleveland’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. The monument’s most notable recognition would probably come from the opening scenes of “A Christmas Story,” where little Ralphie, his brother Randy, and all their friends press their noses against the display windows of Higbee’s Department Store—in the background stands the monument ignorant of the Christmas season, blackened by years of soot and pollution from the burning furnaces of steel mills circling the city like like stationary iron and chromium buttresses.
Today the monument has been cleaned and invites visitors to look at her insides, walls lined with gray granite and Amherst sandstone where the names of local soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War are carved, with the notable exception of any Black soldiers who served (apparently there are plans to add those missing names to the stone walls as the names are discovered through research), and four interior bronze wall reliefs depicting important moments of the Civil War. Above the walls are the bronze carved images of high ranking officers. The yellow, bronze and red colored walls and their echo gives today’s visitor the feeling that he/she is in the bathroom of train station. Albeit a clean bathroom, but this is a step back in time when the cultural symbols were different. When memorializing and the neutral color of yellow depicted remembrance. Still, around the exterior of the monument all you can smell is urine— you can see the decades of piss stains on the red sandstone. Continue reading