Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Bridge Project

People in Cleveland are always trying to create festivals, right? We may be a hardened artery city of pierogi eaters, but god damn if they aren't always trying to get some culture down our gullets. Every single street in Lakewood and Cleveland Heights has their own arts festival. There are beer festivals, food festivals, volleyball festivals, festivals to celebrate environmental disasters. It's impressive, and good, and very commendable.

But whoever came up with the idea to hold an arts festival in the streetcar tunnels under the Detroit Superior bridge, the ABANDONED streetcar tunnels, is a honest to god freaking genius.

So the Ingenuity folks were just sitting around brainstorming, and someone said "hey, why don't we open up this entire tunnel that spans a mile across the river, light it up all cool, and have artists create things and show stuff in all the dark corners? And we'll make it free." Slam dunk guys. You should do this every month next summer.

It was open in the daylight hours too, but I think the best time to see it had to be at night, when everybody was ogling the lights and the music echoing down the girders gave you a soundtrack for being completely tripped out by the views underneath your feet.

Yeah, cause see, there was this long section where you could walk on a grate over the Cuyahoga, and look down on all the little toy buildings. And strangers put their hands on my shoulders to gently guide me out of their way, since I was looking down the entire time, like some sort of stoned 12 yr old.

It makes sense to do this in this space. Clevelanders are bridge people, tunnel people, steel and concrete people. We belong down (up) in places like this, like ducks in water. We've been denied our natural habitat. As you know by now, I feel most comfortable in places like this, that are bigger than me, because up and in are the best directions to have. And it was so much fun to be with other people who were just as impressed as me. It was a big happy Cleveland Glow.

Every little piece of art, like the sitting rooms and the random movies on the wall, shone like little plastic gems.

Walking across the river was like a museum tour. You would be surrounded by people and sound one moment, everyone smiling, and the next moment you were completely alone, in the darkness, with the water and the lights.

And there was a 3d movie! With people in 3d glasses sitting enrapt like a scene from their own movie. And a 6 person bicycle that kept careening randomly down the walkway. And people just sitting around drumming. And kids, and fireworks from the stadium for like forty minutes, and semi trucks hurtling above you making everything shake.

It was a pretty perfect night, and besides my buildings, like the best thing I've done all summer.

More photos from the 2009 Bridge Project can be found here.


  1. Gorgeous photos.

    And I agree, and everyone else I've talked to who went agrees, this is definitely an event that should be repeated.

  2. Clevelanders are also river people moreso than lake people, and boy oh boy there's no better view of the river than through the floor of the subway tunnel. I can only imagine what it would be like at night, with lights and stuff.

  3. So we are river rats with a strong steel girder streak? We are frogs who steal boats and automobiles because we love them? We are otters with full pantries and nonsensical whims?

    We should rename Cleveland "Wind in the Bellows".

  4. this is hands down my new favorite event in cleveland. so damn cool.

    great pics!


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