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Tough Photographs of a Tough City

  • Jul 8, 2009
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As author Les Roberts states in the Introduction to this book, "Cleveland is a tough town." The weather, politics, and economy requires that this city be tough. However, if you say you live in Cleveland, you may not actually live IN Cleveland. "Clevelanders" live in Shaker Heights, Bay Village, Brecksville, and many other cities that surround Cleveland. Thankfully, I have worked and played in Cleveland and am familiar with many of the neighborhoods depicted in Andrew Borowiec's book, Cleveland: The Flats, the Mill, and the Hills, but I have not seen them until now.

Introduction: Living in Cleveland by Les Roberts
The Plates
Afterword: What's Left? by Rod Slemmons
List of Plates
About the Author and the Essayists

Commissioned by the George Gund Foundation, Andrew Borowiec took photographs of Cleveland for its 2002 Annual Report. However, once he was finished, the George Gund Foundation provided the support for their publication in an imprint of the Center for American Places. What you see is a Cleveland that many know but never see. The pictures, all in black and white and with only a couple of people, are stark, gritty, industrial, touching, and beautiful. Black and white is the perfect medium for Cleveland. Some photographs, taken in winter, seem colder; like a wind off of Lake Erie. Others, in the summer, seem hotter, more humid. Much like some of our summer days. In short, this is how Cleveland should look. The photographs that really make an impact are of people's back yards, overlooking the industrial Flats. Their choices of furniture do not seem out of place; car seats, mismatched chairs, makeshift tables. Gritty furniture for a tough people. Two photos require a careful reexamination - the disappearance of a small house for an upscale townhouse. All that remains of the house is its fence. It is strange that the fence seems to belong, but with a much different meaning.

Andrew's choices of Les Roberts and Rod Slemmons for the essays was a masterstroke. These two individuals add more depth to the wonderful photographs and provide excellent insight into Cleveland. While probably not popular with the Cleveland Travel and Convention Bureau, this is a book that all Clevelanders should read. For those that wonder about our fair city, it will reveal our industrial legacy. Slemmons;' essay is a perfect ending to this wonderful book, as he recalls the people that have populated this town. And in the end, you will realize that Les Roberts was correct, this is a tough city and Borowiec has captured it.

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About the reviewer
Gregg Eldred ()
Ranked #72
It never ceases to amaze me how many doors have opened up for me since I started reviewing the books I read. Publishers now send me free books to read and review. Authors contact me. Kind folks at Lunch … more
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About this book



ISBN-10: 1930066805 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9781930066809 (pbk.)
Author: Andrew Borowiec
Genre: Photography
Publisher: Center for American Places
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