I’m a Pittsburgh native and I’m sure proud of it. There’s nothing like being in love with your hometown and feeling so connected to a city that holds such profound meaning. When I have the chance to share my city with an out-of-towner, you can guarantee we’ll make the trek across the renowned Roberto Clemente Bridge to tour Point State Park, to take in the beauty and awe of the Cultural District (my one true love) and to hit up the best sandwich joint around, Primanti Brothers.
Without having met before, I recently had a conversation with a John Carroll sophomore, another Pittsburgh native like myself. We swapped stories and came upon the realization that we were a lot more connected than we thought. She shared with me that she knew many of my old high school friends and had even visited my high school every year to watch our Christmas play performances and spring musicals (all of which I was a part of).
She shared with me her original plans to attend Penn State University for college, whereas I had concrete plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh and had made this decision when I was only nine years old. Clearly, my nine-year-old self was wrong.
After talking for a while, we agreed that it was pretty strange that we both ended up here in Cleveland, without ever having the intention of leaving Pittsburgh.
The next thing that came out of my mouth took me by surprise.
Without thinking, I said, “Pittsburgh will always hold a special place in my heart, but I love Cleveland.” And I truly meant what I said.
When I told my family I would be attending John Carroll University in Cleveland back when I was a senior in high school, they didn’t remark on the privilege of attending such an acclaimed university. Rather, they wrinkled their noses and scoffed, saying, “Why would you go to Cleveland?”
Granted, the rivalry between these two cities is annoyingly obvious, but they both, in my opinion, are some of the greatest cities I’ve ever traveled to.
Coming from Pittsburgh and having such a deep connection with the city, its hospitality, its passion for the arts and its feeling of home, I couldn’t have imagined living anywhere else for the past four years other than Cleveland.
Pittsburgh and Cleveland both have many similarities, but there are so many differences between the two that make me love Cleveland that much more.
First things first, Cleveland has countless hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are to die for. My bucket list of restaurants is endless and I have no idea how I’m going to squeeze them all in one year.
University Circle is one of my favorite places in this city. With all the museums, Severance Hall and Lake View Cemetery, it’s clearly a popular place to go and explore.
For me, as a theater lover, nothing can compare to the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh’s theater district (a stage I’ve had the honor to perform on twice). But Cleveland’s Playhouse Square definitely raises the bar. I’ve lost count of how many plays and musicals I’ve seen at the State Theater, Allen Theater and Connor Palace. Let me just say, they are some of the most beautiful theaters I’ve ever been to and I plan to visit many more times in the future.
Aside from the chaos that is East 4th Street, the “can’t miss” experience at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the beautiful view from Edgewater Park and countless other experiences downtown, Cleveland has so many more hidden gems outside of the city.
When I can, I love to go watch a movie at Shaker Square Cinemas and grab dinner at Yours Truly, followed by coffee at Dewey’s afterward. Chagrin Falls is too gorgeous to pass up a trip to and Brandywine Falls is the perfect place to hike and have a picnic in the summertime. There are so many other places in this city to explore, but, to my disadvantage, I’m running out of room to write.
What can I say? There’s so much about the city of Cleveland that’s got me hooked.
I may be a Pittsburgh girl at heart, but Cleveland has definitely stolen it.