The Flats is on the rise: That’s the Cleveland line today. Once considered a lost cause, the district now boasts luxury apartments, summer concerts, and patio drinking with Instagram-ready waterfront views. In the summer months, twentysomethings with disposable income Uber down to see their favorite bands, or hit the various meet markets lining the river. It’s a particular type of urban renewal: loud, flashy, largely booze-driven.
It's one of many Cleveland “neighborhoods” -- the term is used loosely here -- experiencing a resurrection, of sorts. Cool in the '70s, cool again now. This is taken as a sign of the city’s general standing: If the Flats is back, then Cleveland is back, baby.
The Flats hasn't always been a nightlife destination, but it's been part of Cleveland’s story from the get-go. In 1796, Moses Cleaveland and his band of westbound settlers arrived at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River on Lake Erie. It was the perfect place to put a town.
Except it wasn’t. Things got downright swampy in the summer, when mosquitoes brought malaria and other diseases. The Western Reservers headed to higher ground, to the site of Downtown today. Only the stubborn Lorenzo Carter stayed behind, and his cabin -- well, an East Bank replica of it -- continues to bore Cleveland school children on field trips to this day.
At some point, someone bestowed the shallow valley with its perfectly Cleveland name. For the Slavic immigrants who worked there, and for their children and their children’s children who partied there, it would come out in the compensatory, nasally way of the Inland North: the Flaayuts.