Excursion 6, Part 1 (Passing Through Linden)

In which our intrepid hero drives on Cleveland rather than to it…

My sixth excursion was a trip primarily in northeast central Ohio.  Rather than take the quick way out of town, I deliberately headed north out of Columbus on Cleveland Avenue, so that I could take some pictures of Linden on the way out.  Linden (a neighborhood in Columbus, divided into North Linden and South Linden) is considered one of the “worst” areas of Columbus (“the Bottoms” in Franklinton is right up there, too).  South Linden is considered worse.  Income levels are about half of the Columbus average and crime is higher, too.  Cleveland Avenue is the main “drag” that passes north through and bisects Linden.  One can readily see signs of blight driving up Cleveland Avenue.  There have been various attempts to reinvigorate Linden, especially South Linden, but they have had mixed success at best.  And yet, it is important to note that “blight” is relative.  Let me illustrate what I mean.

[Remember that you can click on each image below to see a larger, better version]

I recently was in Detroit and to get to my final destination I had to drive up a long section of a major street called Gratiot.  There is not a single street in Columbus, or neighborhood, which exhibits the same degree of blight that I see when I drive up Gratiot.  I do not know enough about Detroit geography to know if, by Detroit standards, that is a very blighted area or a somewhat blighted area.  Regardless, Columbus happily has nothing like it.  So Linden, and Cleveland Avenue, don’t look very good to a resident of Columbus, but they are like the Yellow Brick Road compared to some streets and neighborhoods elsewhere in the United States.  It drives home that Columbus, Ohio, is a pretty prosperous city and we who live in the area are luckier than many.  Someone else has posted some pictures of Linden here.

One of the signs that you are entering a blighted area is that businesses such as grocery stores begin to look more like fortresses.  Ray’s Supermarket, on Cleveland Avenue (recently placed on the list for increased monitoring by the Columbus Board of Health after various public health violations) is an example of this phenomenon.  And perhaps wisely so; there was a triple shooting near here recently.

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One of the things that is interesting about commercial buildings in predominantly African-American neighborhoods is how often they are more colorful, as in the below example.  I grew up in El Paso, Texas, which is overwhelmingly Hispanic in nature, and buildings are more colorful there, too.  So do white people simply hate colorful buildings?  Not me, anyway.

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Here’s another nice example of a colorful building on Cleveland Avenue.  The photos here are just part of a “drive-by” on my way out of town; I plan to go back to the Linden area and take more photos, because there is a lot of interesting stuff there and these photos don’t begin to do justice to the neighborhood.exc6pt1-3

Here’s an example of some relatively new construction in Linden, which I noticed as I was doing a turn-around in order to swing back and take a picture of something that had been on the “wrong” side of the street.  The 10 houses are cookie cutter houses, even to the extent of having an identical tree placed in front of each one.   Still, as new houses, they are nicer than many other in the neighborhood, and signs of development are promising.exc6pt1-4

Here’s an interesting little barbecue place (mostly homebase for a food truck):  the cleverly-named Gibbs’ Tailored Ribbs (sic).  They have also been spotted in Philadelphia and I can’t determine where it opened first, here or there.

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I love painted buildings and, while painting bricks on a building is not the most imaginative thing to paint, the colorful blueness makes it snapworthy.

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The below image features a bit more imaginative painting:  a mural of people constructing a building.  Very appropriate for a Habitat for Humanity office.

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Here we see the “Mogadishu Internet Cafe.”  This name illustrates two things at once.  First, the large Somali population of Columbus; Columbus is home to more people of Somali origin than any other American city other than Minneapolis.  This is a nice thing.  Less nice is the phenomenon of “Internet cafes,” a term which in many places means just what it sounds like, but which has in many states in the United States come to mean a seedy form of unregulated gambling.  At these places, gambling occurs through a roundabout mechanism in which internet time or phone cards are sold, ostensibly with a chance to win a prize, which can be determined using a slots-like machine (in some other regions, these gambling establishments are called “sweepstakes parlors”).  Not long after this photograph was taken, the state of Ohio banned these establishments, so I will have to go back again and see what it looks like now.   This used to be a barbecue restaurant and a neon “Texas barbecue” sign used to be right above the internet cafe sign (now blacked out).

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Large abandoned stores like this are America’s pyramids, monuments to long-dead commercial gods.  At one point, this was a thriving Value City Furniture store.exc6pt1-9

As I began to get into far north Columbus, I diverged from Cleveland Avenue and found an Amvets Post with a World War II era Sherman tank parked outside.  The military historian in me demanded that I stop and take some pictures and I even (gasp) exited the vehicle to do so.  All the original markings on the tank have been painted over, so its history is not clear (it may never have left the United States).  I am not a tank expert, so I can’t identify the precise model of Sherman, but it is one that had additional armor placed on the sides of the tank where its ammunition bins were stowed (a vulnerable spot for the tank).  It was donated to them by a local VFW post, which I guess had a tank to spare!

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This Sherman tank has only a 75mm main armament, which did not fare well against German Tigers and Panthers.  Later models included a somewhat better 76mm guns.  A British variant, the Firefly, included a much more dangerous gun.  The Sherman, which saw service in the American, British, Canadian, (Free) French, Chinese, and Soviet Armies (among others) in World War II, is much derided for its poor main armament and weak armor, yet it proved to be a reliable workhorse and, when in the hands of veteran units like the 4th Armored Division, pretty dangerous.exc6pt1-12 exc6pt1-13 exc6pt1-14 exc6pt1-15

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