By Janet Carleton and Jennie Thomas, Host Committee co-chairs

The #SAA15 Host Committee is so very happy to welcome you to Cleveland!

We’ve shared with you almost everything we know about Cleveland and the local Northeast Ohio area, and we hope you’re able to use that information to have an amazing time while you’re in town! Our fabulous Host Committee, alongside a great group of volunteers, will be staffing the registration desk as well as the Convention Center’s St. Clair Avenue entrance for the week, and we look forward to answering your questions and helping you navigate your week. SAA has also arranged for the Cleveland visitors bureau, Destination Cleveland, to have a table at the Convention Center to provide you with even more information on what to see and do!

And now for something every visitor to Cleveland needs to see…


Weather Forecast

By Lisa Rickey, Host Committee Member

As you begin thinking about packing your suitcase, you might be wondering: What’s the weather likely to be in Cleveland, Ohio, this time of year?

Before I answer that question, I’ll share just a brief anecdote about Ohio weather. Occasionally, I will make a social media posting including some observation on current Ohio weather, and someone from another state will ask, “Is that normal for Ohio?” And I, a lifelong Ohio resident, reply: “It is ‘normal’ for Ohio weather to be fairly unpredictable, yes.” I’ve seen thunderstorms in December, snow as late as May (though never in August – knock on wood), and even the “remnants” of hurricanes that result in terrible windstorms.

But let’s talk about what is likely to happen next week, shall we?

As luck would have it, the current weather forecast from Cleveland.com (or the Weather Channel if you prefer) is calling for a pretty typical week of Cleveland summer weather: highs in the 80s, lows around 70; some sun, some clouds, and some possible “scattered” thunderstorms; and occasional use of the dreaded word “humid.” As locals will know, it’s not the heat that can be the real “killer” in an Ohio summer; it’s the humidity.

Cleveland Sunrise (photo courtesy of Chris Capell, via Flickr Commons)
Cleveland Sunrise (photo courtesy of Chris Capell, via Flickr Commons)

So with all of that being said and operating under the assumption that the only thing you can predict about Ohio weather is that it’s a bit unpredictable, how does this translate to packing advice? Here are a few suggestions for your suitcase:

  • Plan to dress in layers. Every day, you will be at your hotel, then traveling to the convention center (whether by foot, bicycle, car, RTA, etc.), spending some time in the convention center, probably heading out for food at some point, maybe venturing out to some area attractions (we hope), and back to your hotel again. That’s a lot of potentially varied micro-climates, so give yourself plenty of clothing options.
  • Bring an umbrella. Whether you are walking a few blocks from your hotel to the convention center or just hopping off a bus near the entrance, it’s still a good idea to have an umbrella on hand just in case, preferably one small enough to stow in a tote bag while you’re not using it.
  • Wear the right shoes. No matter where you’re staying or how you plan to get to the convention center, you will be doing at least a little walking outdoors on pavement—potentially wet pavement. So bring comfortable and reasonably water-resistant footwear.

That should cover it—and you—rain or shine!

For the truly weather-curious, check out this database of Cleveland Weather History, including such facts as historical highs and lows for a given date.

The Story of Steel and Iron in Cleveland

Contributed by John J. Grabowski, Ph.D.

If you are familiar with professional football (and one assumes many SAA members are) you know (should know!) that one of the most famous rivalries in the sport is that between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s a bit like Ohio State and the other university up north (family connections prevent me from using its name!).  But the comparison ends there, because unlike college football with its origins in the Ivy League, that of pro football is connected to the steel mills and factories of the industrial Midwest.  The Cleveland-Pittsburgh rivalry has at its roots, a blue collar aura and a link to a longer economic rivalry between two great American steel cities. And, that brings us to the story of steel and iron in Cleveland.

Even in this second decade of the twenty-first century, Clevelanders cannot divorce themselves from steel despite the city’s move into a post-industrial economy. Look closely at the city while you are here.  The iron ore carrier, William G. Mather is anchored in the lake just beyond the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Take a tour of the Flats, and you’ll see ore freighters winding their way up the Cuyahoga to the ArcelorMittal mill.  Now largely automated, it is one of the most efficient steel mills in the nation. If you take the time to go to the observation deck of the Terminal Tower, you’ll see its buildings and smokestacks to the south.

Untitled (Industrial Scene, Otis Steel Co., Cleveland), 1928, by Margaret Bourke White (courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art, 1972.246)
Untitled (Industrial Scene, Otis Steel Co., Cleveland), 1928, by Margaret Bourke White (courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art, 1972.246)

This modernized plant is the descendant of an industry that formed the economic backbone of the city from the period just after the Civil War to the 1960s.  While early Cleveland blacksmiths worked iron, it was not until 1857 that the industry really got rolling, so to speak. Two Welsh brothers, David and John Jones, started the Cleveland Rolling Mills southeast of the city in the area now known as Slavic Village. By the 1880s, the making of iron and steel (the rolling mills had the first Bessemer converter west of the Appalachians) had displaced oil and refining as the chief industrial activity in Cleveland.  As the mills grew, the process also became de-skilled and thus opened up jobs to thousands of immigrant and migrant workers.  It’s not serendipity that placed some of the city’s ethnic neighborhoods near the mills; it was the need of workers to walk to their jobs.  And chain migration brought sons, families, and relatives from what are now Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, and other central and eastern European nations to mill neighborhoods like Tremont, Warszawa (now part of Slavic Village), and Praha. By the early twentieth century, the Europeans were joined at the mills by African Americans who saw Cleveland and jobs at the mills as a passage out of Jim Crow and into some degree of prosperity.  That expectation was, unfortunately, not truly fulfilled, despite the fact that some migrants already had their roots in the industry in Alabama.

The making of steel then provided the basis for factories that turned it into a number of products — nuts, bolts, automobiles, sewing machines, roller skates, and even jail cells!  The transport of iron ore itself provided the city with a host of sub-industries.  Shipbuilding was one, with American Ship Building as a prime example. (It’s hard for some Clevelanders to admit this given that George Steinbrenner’s fortune came from the company and helped him bankroll the hated New York Yankees.)  Originally ships were unloaded by hand.  Up a plank with a wheelbarrow, down into the hold, shovel it full, take it out, dump it, and do it again.  That ended with the invention of the Brown Hoist system (invented and built in Cleveland) and then the Hulett, invented by a Clevelander. Both systems eventually found use all around the Great Lakes and their manufacture brought wealth and fame to the city, along with labor strife.  A strike at the Brown Hoist factory was, along with strikes at the Rolling Mills, a signifier that laboring conditions and pay in the city during its Gilded Age heyday (and afterwards) were matters of serious concern and contention.  All this reminds me of a Depression-era “poem” my father taught me:

“Yesterday I met a man I never met before. He asked me if I wanted a job shoveling iron ore. I asked him what the wages were, ‘A dollar and a half a ton.’  I told him he could shoot himself, I’d rather be a bum.”

Tremont Neighborhood includes the house from the movie “A Christmas Story” (photo courtesy of Tremont West Development Corporation website)
Tremont Neighborhood includes the house from the movie “A Christmas Story” (photo courtesy of Tremont West Development Corporation website)

I suspect that this little snippet is a reminder that I, like many Clevelanders, have some steel in my family history.  And, indeed, as noted earlier, it’s hard to let that history be forgotten.  While the mills may not be what they used to be (thank goodness perhaps, because the pollution they created was extensive), it is still possible to see the history of steel in the city.  The Brown Hoist Factory still stands on Hamilton Avenue; the site of the Cleveland Rolling Mills (which later became part of United States Steels American Steel and Wire Plant) still bears traces of the factory; and some of the factories that built automobiles such as the Winton still stand.  And, if you want to see the real thing at work, get someone to drive you down Independence Road in the Flats — you’ll be going through a major section of the ArcelorMittal mill.  Or you can visit the neighborhoods built alongside the mills. Try Tremont – look at the architecture, count the churches, enjoy a meal at some of the best restaurants in Cleveland (and remember when you pay your bill, you’ve probably spent the equivalent of several weeks wages for someone who lived in that “hood” one hundred years ago).  Of course, if you come back to the city after the convention you can buy a seat at a Browns-Steelers game.  Try to remember that the roots of this contest are blue collar when you look at the tab!

But, if you are less adventurous, simply consult the online edition of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Start with the article on iron and steel, and use the internal links to really get the full story of all the connections the industry has to the history of Cleveland.


Cleveland and the WPA

By Ron Davidson, Host Committee member

View of a portion of a WPA-sponsored mosaic by W. LeRoy Flint and Henry Olmer that was placed at the Valleyview Homes public housing project, in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, in 1940. In 2004, the work was preserved and restored when the Valleyview Homes were demolished, and placed in the new Tremont Pointe Apartments on the same site (photo courtesy of Ron Davidson)
View of a portion of a WPA-sponsored mosaic by W. LeRoy Flint and Henry Olmer that was placed at the Valleyview Homes public housing project, in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, in 1940. In 2004, the work was preserved and restored when the Valleyview Homes were demolished, and placed in the new Tremont Pointe Apartments on the same site (photo courtesy of Ron Davidson)

It might be obvious to note that Cleveland has a rich history, but for students of the Great Depression era, its resources are especially inspiring. Both art and history were greatly enhanced during that time.

Did you know that Cleveland was a birthplace (of sorts) of the Historical Records Survey of the WPA? Although this Depression-era work-relief program (which gave jobs to unemployed archivists and historians) was a Federal project, much of its inspiration and philosophical support derived from the ideas of a local professor, Robert Binkley of Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University). The Annals of Cleveland – an annotated index of early Cleveland newspapers that was a joint project of the Historical Records Survey, the Cleveland Public Library, and the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s office – continues to be an invaluable resource for the history of Cleveland and its people. Hard copies of the Annals are available at the Cleveland Public Library and many local academic libraries. Digital copies are also available, with direct links from many genealogy and history sites, including Ancestry.com, Access Genealogy (which links to the Digital Case repository at CWRU), and the HathiTrust

Clevelanders also are proud of their public art, particularly the products of the Depression era, and have taken efforts to preserve and display works throughout the community. You can find many examples of WPA art in the community: the art collection at the Cleveland Public Library contains many Depression-era works; murals and sculptures at the site of the former Valleyview Homes in the Tremont neighborhood were preserved and restored, and can be seen around the new Tremont Pointe homes on the site, and at Cleveland State University; the Oxford Elementary School in Cleveland Heights has proudly preserved its WPA art.

The spirit of community art in Cleveland continues today.


Additional Resources

Work Projects Administration. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western Reserve University.

Concrete cast sculptures of animals were placed around the Valleyview Homes neighborhood as part of the WPA Arts project in 1940. These statues were preserved in 2004, and now greet visitors at the Tremont Pointe Apartments administration building (photo courtesy of Ron Davidson)
Concrete cast sculptures of animals were placed around the Valleyview Homes neighborhood as part of the WPA Arts project in 1940. These statues were preserved in 2004, and now greet visitors at the Tremont Pointe Apartments administration building (photo courtesy of Ron Davidson)

Walk This Way: Exploring Cleveland’s Architecture, History, and Points of Interest

By Jill Tatem, Host Committee member

Downtown Cleveland (photo courtesy of Laszlo Ilyes via Flickr creative commons license)
Downtown Cleveland (photo courtesy of Laszlo Ilyes via Flickr creative commons license)

Heritage Tourism: Take a Hike Tours

Five free walking tours guided by actors portraying Cleveland’s historic figures. Each lasts approximately 1.5 hours. Reservations, especially for groups, should be made by calling 216-771-1994. Each area’s tour is offered on specific days and times: Playhouse Square (Tuesday at 6 pm); Gateway District (Wednesday at 6 pm); Civic Center (Thursday at 6 pm); Warehouse District (Saturday at 10 am); Canal Basin Park in the Flats (Sunday at 10 am). Free.


Arcade (photo courtesy of MK Feeney via Flickr creative commons license)
Arcade (photo courtesy of MK Feeney via Flickr creative commons license)

City Prowl

If you prefer the Do-It-Yourself approach, City Prowl offers downloadable audio walking tours for Prospect/E.4th St; The Arcades; Warehouse District; Bank Lobbies; Public Square (now under construction, however). Free.



Lolly the Trolley

Lolly the Trolley in the Flats (photo courtesy of Ron Dauphin via Flickr creative commons license)
Lolly the Trolley in the Flats (photo courtesy of Ron Dauphin via Flickr creative commons license)

If you prefer your tours sitting down, consider Lolly the Trolley. One- and two-hour City Sightseeing tours include the Flats, Downtown, Warehouse District, Ohio City, West Side Market, Playhouse Square, University Circle, the Cultural Gardens and Rockefeller Greenhouse. Make reservations by calling 1-800-848-0173. Charge.

Tasting Table CITY GUIDES: Cleveland


“In very recent years, Cleveland’s public persona has shifted from that of luckless underdog to media darling. Though the natives have been restlessly touting its charms for eons, only now is word finally spreading about the city’s vibrant, varied food-and-drinks scene. A fertile Cuyahoga Valley coupled with a robust network of farmers’ markets provide enthusiastic chefs with all the inspiration they need to create brilliant dishes. Call it a Rust Belt Revival if you’d like, but to locals, it’s just a time-tested truth.…”

Read more: http://www.tastingtable.com/city_guide/national/185#ixzz3XPmhw2dx

Cleveland, City of Light, City of Magic, You’re Calling Me*

Lorain Carnegie Bridge pylon
Lorain Carnegie Bridge pylon. Cuyahoga County Engineer’s Photography Collection. Cuyahoga County Archives. Accessed January 8, 2015. http://images.ulib.csuohio.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/cca/id/1451/rec/64

Travel and Leisure called Cleveland one of the best places to travel in 2015. Fodor’s 2015 Go List features Cleveland as well; its rust belt chic comparable to the natural wonders of Patagonia, Chile, the otherworldliness of Iceland, and the beaches of Uruguay. With culinary kings like Michael Symon, one of the top orchestras in the world, and stunning museums like the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland is the place to be in 2015. And with a mandate from Council and the membership-at-large to experiment with new ideas, SAA is shaking things up for its 79th Annual Meeting in Cleveland! The most obvious change is the venue itself: SAA will meet in a convention center rather than a conference hotel. The Cleveland Convention Center was just completed in 2014 and is a sleek, beautiful space, located just steps away from the three conference hotels and a vibrant downtown district.

And getting here is easy! Cleveland sits within a 500-mile radius of nearly half of the U.S. population! Upon arrival, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) links busy travelers through four RTA rail lines that snake all over the city and to the airport, connecting with 69 different bus routes. For just $5, visitors can snag a one-day Cleveland Pass that allows for unlimited rides. The slick, modern HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) secured an Excellence in Engineering award, connecting downtown hotspots to hospitals and restaurants. Once downtown, take advantage of the city’s free RTA trolley network, bring your bike, or use your feet. The website Walk Score names Cleveland the 16th most walkable largest city in the U.S. Everything you need during your stay in Cleveland will be only moments away!

Cleveland Rocks!

No trip to Cleveland is complete without a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum—lucky for all of you this year’s All-Attendee Reception will be held there! The Rock Hall experience includes four theaters, multiple interactive stations, and seven floors of exhibits that tell the story of the world’s most powerful art form through handwritten lyrics, colorful costumes, history-making photographs and videos, and iconic albums that make rock and roll a religion for some, and a force for social change throughout the world. And don’t forget to plan a visit to the Museum’s Library and Archives, located in the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on the Cuyahoga Community College Metro campus.

Cleveland is also home to a vibrant live music scene. Cleveland features everything from the Happy Dog’s Polka Happy Hour with DJ Kishka, to the hot jazz of Nighttown, Take 5, and the Velvet Tango Room, to the indie rock and alt-country vibes of the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, to the punk, metal, and rap of Euclid Avenue’s legendary Agora, to the more mellow, eclectic mix of the two-story Music Box Supper Club. Interested in local music? With local bands the caliber of the Cloud Nothings, Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites, Herzog, and Welshly Arms, you can’t miss. And if you’re up for expanding your record collection, vinyl snobs welcome! My Mind’s Eye in Lakewood and Music Saves and Blue Arrow in the funky Waterloo District will satisfy your cravings for all genres of recorded music as well.

First Class Cuisine

Northeast Ohio also has a burgeoning foodie community. Whether you’re looking for exotic cuisine, farm to table fare, or some of the best microbrews around, Cleveland has it all: Food Network-famous chefs like Michael Symon, celebrated restaurants like the Greenhouse Tavern, and award-winning food trucks like the Hodge Podge Truck. The West Side Market and Great Lakes Brewing Co. are cornerstones to Cleveland’s culinary and craft beer movement. In January of this year, the Conde Nast Traveler named Cleveland “America’s Best Beer City”, highlighting small-batch startups Platform, Nano, and Market Garden.

Cleveland Metroparks
Cleveland Metroparks. Courtesy of ThisisCleveland.com.


In the Cleveland Metroparks, more than 21,000 acres and 18 reservations surround Cleveland like an “Emerald Necklace.” The reservations follow the rivers and creeks that flow throughout the region, while the Metroparks include hundreds of miles of walking, biking, and horse riding trails as well as numerous picnic areas, nature education centers, golf courses, and countless fishing spots, as well as the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park includes 33,000 acres along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron that are administered by the National Park Service. The park has many hiking and biking trails, such as the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which follows a former stretch of the 308-mile Ohio and Erie Canal, and offers a number of examples of nineteenth and early twentieth-century sustainable farming and pastoral or rural living, as well as art exhibits, outdoor concerts, and scenic excursions and special event tours on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Cultural Heritage Institutions

Cleveland and the surrounding areas are home to a number of museums, universities, and other cultural institutions just awaiting your discovery!

Admission to the world-class permanent collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art is always free. Founded in 1913 “for the benefit of all the people forever,” it’s also home to one of the country’s top art libraries. Experience the museum’s $350 million makeover through the new West Wing gallery and get techy at the interactive Gallery One, a 40-foot touchscreen “Collection Wall.” Also available in the cultural mecca that is the University Circle area—only seven miles and an easy bus ride from the meeting site at the Convention Center—are the Cleveland Institute of Art, Institute of Music, Botanical Garden, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Natural History, Case Western Reserve University, Dittrick Museum of medical history, Children’s Museum, home to the Cleveland Orchestra Severance Hall, and Western Reserve Historical Society. The dramatic Museum of Contemporary Art rises 60 feet from a hexagonal base to a square top by London architect Farvid Moussavi (2012) and Case’s Peter B. Lewis Center was designed by Frank Gehry (2002).

In downtown Cleveland, just blocks from the Convention Center, lie the I.M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the International Women’s Air and Space Museum, the Federal Reserve Bank, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland State University, the USS Cod WWII submarine, and of course Playhouse Square, the largest theater district in America outside of New York. The Great Lakes Science Center, located only steps away from the Rock Hall, includes both the NASA Glenn Visitor Center and the historic Great Lakes freighter William G. Mather.

Other nearby cultural heritage institutions include the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Christmas Story House and Museum, the world’s largest privately-owned collection of Hollywood Christmas movie props and costumes Castle Noel, the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, the Transformer Station (home to cutting edge contemporary art), Cleveland Public Theatre, Oberlin College, and the Superman House, where local writer Jerry Siegel and illustrator Joe Shuster developed the comic series. Northeast Ohio also boasts some of the best public libraries and local history collections in the country—check out any number of the nearby branches of the Cleveland Public Library and Cuyahoga County Public Library and local historical societies!

Within an hour drive are Akron and Canton, Ohio, which offer the 70 stunning acres of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is home to the world’s largest collection of documents related to professional football.

Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame. Courtesy of ThisisCleveland.com.

Keep an eye out for information on repository tours, coming soon!


Want to know more about Cleveland history? One of the top 10 largest U.S. cities between 1890-1960, Cleveland has a storied past and much is still on display for visitors with an eye for history. Two comprehensive websites full of interesting essays and images are the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History and Cleveland Memory. Cleveland Memory features collections such as the Cleveland Press morgue, and many exhibits including “Notable Blacks of Cleveland,” “Ethnic Women of Cleveland,” and “Elliot Ness.” Want to see a timeline of everything Cleveland? How about historic sites by neighborhood on a Google map? The Encyclopedia offers these and more. And if presidential history is your thing, Ohio isn’t called “The Mother of Presidents” for nothing. With eight presidents, you’ll find presidential sites around the state, including in northern Ohio.

*Title refers to the Randy Newman song from 1972, “Burn On.”