Named for the Eastern European factory workers that settled it years ago, Slavic Village is poised at the unexpected intersection of urban renewal, outdoor fitness, and pierogis. Once declared (somewhat arbitrarily) the poster child for the 2008 foreclosure crisis, the neighborhood has reinvented itself in ways that are both practical and innovative.
There's the Cleveland Velodrome, Ohio’s only closed bicycle racing track, and Fleet Ave, with its side gardens and full bike lane, can lay claim to be Cleveland’s only street that's "complete and green." Outdoorsy types will also find Mill Creek Falls, the tallest waterfall in Cuyahoga County (sorry, Chagrin Falls). There isn’t a vibrant bar scene here yet -- a hard sell, we know -- but The Nash on East 80th, the old Slovenian National Home, has become a local comedy hotspot, with some Accidental Comedy shows popping in and, recently, to rising-star comic Hannibal Buress. Dining-wise there’s Seven Roses, an old-world Polish buffet that dives headfirst into the ethnic dishes (duck blood soup, anyone?).
There’s some grimy and glorious pre-WWI architecture for history buffs as well -- the Key Bank at 55th and Broadway, with its Ionic columns, still looks classy as hell. What you’re left with is a racially diverse, hard-working neighborhood that pays tribute to its past while looking square-on at its future. Slavic Village isn’t shiny and new or trendy, but take stock of all the things making Cleveland great in the 21st century and you will find them here.