Pei-ing Homage in Cleveland

Posted 08/25/2010

I didn't really have great expectations of Cleveland on my first visit. I was mainly just interested in spending a day roaming through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame did not disappoint me either; it was a wonderful way to re-discover all of the great artists I had grown up listening to. Nearly 8 million visitors have toured this fabulous museum since its opening back in 1994. Designed by the world-class architect I.M. Pei, the structure itself is a grand geometrical homage to the icons of rock and roll. The museum features Pete Townshend's Gibson J-200 guitar that he used to compose Tommy, including the classic "Pinball Wizard." Yoko Ono has contributed a valuable collection of her husband John Lennon's artifacts such as lyrics, his guitar from the 1965 Beatles concert at Shea Stadium, a pair of eyeglasses and the leather jacket Lennon wore while in Hamburg. Utilizing film, interactive kiosks and intimate performance spaces, the hall presents thousands of pieces of memorabilia from the most important artists of America's musical history. If you do nothing else in Cleveland this is a must stop!

Another of my favorite sites in Cleveland was the Lake View Cemetery at 12316 Euclid Avenue. I know, sounds kind of grim to fly all the way to Cleveland to check out a cemetery, but it was a beautiful park -like setting with some of the most ornate stonework I've ever seen. Known as Cleveland's "Outdoor Museum and Arboretum," this stunning garden was originally built in 1869 and is the final resting place of the 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield. Located on the highest point in the cemetery, the Garfield Monument combines Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine styles of architecture. Be sure to venture upstairs to the balcony where you will find a stunning view of Lake Erie and the reason this cemetery is called Lake View.

The real treasure of Lake View is the Wade Memorial Chapel which was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and dedicated in 1901. Walk through the four-ton bronze doors to be awestruck by some of the most incredible stained glass work you will ever see. Windows depicting the Resurrection of Christ as well as scenes from both the Old and New Testaments, are included in this one of a kind interior created by the famous Tiffany. Even the old cedar pews are embellished with stained glass. This chapel does not house any crypts as it is meant for weddings and other special events. Other notables residing in this cemetery are John D. Rockefeller, Eliot Ness and many Civil War and Revolutionary War soldiers. There are several ways to tour the cemetery; I chose a $5.00 self guided cassette tour but I would love to go on one of their Sunday Trolley Tours which is $7.00. The park/cemetery even allows leashed dogs so it is a wonderful way to spend the day.

In addition to these fantastic historical venues in Cleveland there are a multitude of other great things to see and do which don't involve the dead such as festivals, parades, sporting events and concerts.

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