Edgewater Beach

Edgewater State Park
Cleveland, OH

Submitted by: M. Senerchia

Lakeshore beach, woods and grass fields.

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Why It Works

As simple as it gets: sand, water, horizon; grass, trees, trails, picnic tables. A fishing pier, showers, chess tables, grills. Totemic cubes of stone, rip-rap boulders protect the shoreline from erosion and offend aesthetes, but are beloved by children who scramble over them, lovers who spoon and carve initials as the sun goes down, dogs driven mad by the scent of fish and the odd dropped chicken wing. It's never really empty: there are always runners, bicyclists, bladers, solitary walkers; on a frigid winter evening dogs and their people share the beach with collectors of driftwood; spring has kites, bicycles, bare pale knees in the lunchtime sun. On a sunny summer Sunday all of Cleveland is there, rich, poor, of every age and persuasion, people of dozens of ethnicities cooking, laughing, playing guitar and harmonica, sharing the beach and the grass field and the trails with easy grace, the water full of children and, further out, boats and jet skis; fat, happy women digging their toes into the sand, breezy, unselfconscious (I can say that; I'm one of them). Fall brings rugby, kayakers, truckers stretching their legs (coffee in styrofoam cups), discreet wine and cheese on lawn chairs on the bluff, sunsets of absurd beauty and persistence, long walks to the far side of the beach where a few teenagers secret a bonfire, a drum circle enchants mermaids of mounded sand left by a local artist...

What more could you want in this world?

What Makes Edgewater Beach a Great Place?

Poor access - by car or through stinking, graffitied tunnels - which makes its year-round popularity all the more astonishing. The new lakefront planning process, promising better access, has galvanized immense public participation, at least by Cleveland standards.

As you approach, sluiced into a massive parking lot, it looks like nothing. But: leave the car. Approach the water. Take a picnic table under a willow tree. It's fairly clean - as with all great public spaces, users do as much to keep it so as the park staff. The water has good and bad days - some days clear and clean, some days depositing the ice-bound detritus of winter or a fish kill. The dogs dearly love fish kills. There are cops on bicycles and in cars, present but not oppressive.

Everyone - all the time - everywhere - doing something simple and wonderful. Salsa lessons in the pavilion - and family reunions, and activist meetings. A talented naturalist.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!

History & Background

With the addition of a more secluded wild beach park on Whiskey Island, at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, and a bird sanctuary on Dike 14, both to the east, we will have a complete bike trail along the lake, soon to be joined to another set of trails heading south along the canal, through active industrial sites and abandoned ones being reclaimed by nature, to forest and farmland... Also being planned for the Cuyahoga River is a new eco-boathouse.

Contact Info:

Cleveland Lakefront State Park: 216-881-8141

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