Bunhill: Cleveland's rock revival

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The Independent Online
TOURISTS in the United States are drawn to the Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks, the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. And the cities they visit include New York, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans and even Chicago . . . but never Cleveland.

For years, the Ohio industrial centre on the south shore of Lake Erie has scarcely been a big draw for holidaymakers. But the city, long viewed as the epitome of the 'Rust Belt', is determined to change that in a 'unique partnership' between commerce and government.

The New Cleveland Campaign was in London with the acclaimed symphony orchestra last week to spread the word to British business people.

Its chairman, James Biggar, the retired head of Nestle's US operation, said the orchestra and other cultural activities, such as the city's museums and theatres, are leading the drive to a new image.

The old Flats district, alongside the Cuyahoga River, is filled with shops, restaurants and cafes - ready for the thousands expected to spill out of the soon-to-be completed Gateway sports complex, which seems as if it is going to be a rather grand new home for the Cleveland Indians baseball team.

But Mr Biggar and his colleagues are pinning their real hopes on rock'n'roll. The Indians' current home on the so- called North Coast (the Great Lakes, as opposed to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans) has long been a favourite for rock groups on the stadium trail. And now somebody has remembered that Alan Freed, the disc jockey credited with inventing the term 'rock'n'roll', started out in Cleveland.

As a result, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is to be built in the city. 'It's a spectacular-looking design,' said Mr Biggar, adding that its position at the mouth of the river might make it a Cleveland equivalent of the Sydney Opera House. Of such stuff are dreams made.

(Photograph omitted)