What is Lorain’s unique identity ?

October 28, 2008 at 11:18 pm 22 comments


By Loraine Ritchey thatwb@yahoo.com

I must admit looking at Scott’s latest video offering with George I found more to agree with than disagree. I have been feeling somewhat ” what does it matter anyway in the grand scheme of things what I do or think”

BUT ( there it is again) my human failing of – I wonder if this would work in Lorain did enter my mind as I traveled around Europe.

I saw places that were harder to get to than Lorain – had worse thoroughfares although some really had lovely views

( so has Lorain)
Henery Hawk

and you REALLY had to make an effort, no pubic transportation here , The only mode of transportation to get your goods in and out was donkey and sledge

you took your “heart medication” and hoped for the best that not only did you make it down

that you would make it up again

The journey from top to bottom was literally for the brave and yet ithe place was packed. The car park at the top of the cliff was overflowing , busses lined up – What was the attraction?

No casino , no soft sandy beaches , no pontificating politicians having election speeches with their supporters to draw a crowd, no free giveaways -just a group of houses where people lived their daily lives,

two or three public houses /inns , couple of museums in the homes

and walkways that made Lorains uneven pavement look like heaven .

( I thought of our Street Dept when taking this one )

But the tourists were there in droves- and paid for the privilege of risking heart failure! Oh ! Yes there was a charge at the top to “enter ” approximately 12 dollars a person and the tourist shops and cafe.

The day we went was a “lobster and crabfest ” going on at the bottom of the hill. The half lobster salad was the equivalent of $35 a plate and they sold out by 2 p.m. As you can see the rocky shore was the seating choice of the day.

Why , were bus loads of people falling all over themselves to pay ? Because this place “Clovelly had an identity , and identity unique to the area, that had been marketed – Remember the Staubach report

So what IS Lorain’s marketable identity? – It seems to me instead of looking for silver bullet development and waiting for the next BIG idea we should be looking at what we have that makes Lorain unique on the Great Lakes? Any ideas on the “Marketing of Lorain”?

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22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. buckeyerino  |  October 28, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    The most concentrated population of Puerto Ricans on the Great Lakes. For many outsiders, it’s unexpected to find such an exotic population in this location, but the Lorain community is happy that they’re here.

    Each year, Lorain draws visitors to the Hispanic Leadership Conference. It can be expanded upon.

    It doesn’t hurt that we have the International Festival, too.

  • 2. Mark  |  October 29, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Here’s an off-the-wall suggestion:

    Fix up downtown!!! Rehabbed 100-odd-year-old buildings that are actually open for business, with restaurants and coffee bars and sweet shops and etc REALLY WORK!!

    Just check out Elyria and Amherst and Norwalk and Oberlin and Chagrin Falls and…..

  • 3. taco boy  |  October 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    How about actually trying to CLEAN UP LORAIN. The mayor, safety director and building dept should get off their buts and enforce some laws around here. No one wants to visit a slum

  • 4. Liz  |  October 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Since you mentioned the Street Dept……remember Pitching Patch Paula? Are those 2 potholes still filled in?

  • 5. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Taco and Mark as you can see from the Staubach report these things are addressed

    Get rid of the Urban Decay -
    Clean up the entranceways and gateways to downtown
    Fix the existing commercial and building facades on Broadway
    Get rid of the eyesores
    Camouflage the existing industry on the river and lake front
    HAVE A TIME LINE for completion, a plan and how it will be financed

    you are both correct we HAVE CLEAN UP and quickly first of all!

  • 6. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 29, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Buckeye – iYou are correct but the international flavor is actually fading from this city – going fast are the “ethnic ” varieties Lorain experienced in her hey day….we need more than the International “moniker” to market this town…….it is a help but not unique……

  • 7. buckeyerino  |  October 29, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    The international flavor is fading, yes, at least when considering the Eastern European immigrant descendants. But the Puerto Rican population still flourishes. The birth rate among the Puerto Rican population is slightly higher than that of other population groups in Lorain, maintaining the community’s vibrance. There is still a trickle of Puerto Ricans migrating here from their Caribbean home, for I’ve subbed in ESL classrooms before in Lorain’s schools, and met some new arrivals. From a civic point of view, Puerto Ricans are very involved. They hold positions in Lorain’s government and in many NGO’s. They definitely influence the flavor of everyday life in Lorain, and just like Bill Richardson was drawn here to campaign among them for Obama, there are others who will want to seek out and communicate with the Puerto Rican members of our community on a regular basis. We’ve already seen, at the Hispanic Leadership Conference, the willingness of some nationally-known personalities to participate. This annual conference is highly informative and entertaining. I recommend attending it to anyone. Out-of-town visitors do attend, and that audience could be expanded. I think the Hispanic Leadership Conference could be the starting point for launching something bigger, as we promote the heck out of it and the following for the event grows larger. Once we reach a critical mass, then other fledgling events can be introduced and promoted until we have an established calender and we’re regarded as something of a mecca for these cultural events.

  • 8. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 29, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    True Daniel and that is very special but that doesn’t make Lorain “unique” it is a part of the whole ..but then that really isn’t “international ” is it . last I looked there were more than Puerto Rico and the Eastern Europeans that make up an international community :)

    Yes the Hispanic community has some great events and a rich cltural heritage .but I am talking Lorain…..what would make tourists come here , put up with some of our “cobbles” and pay for the priviledge of doing so .why not go to Puerto Rico ? If you see where I am going with this…..

  • 9. buckeyerino  |  October 29, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Why not go to Puerto Rico? Because Puerto Rico is not located within 500 miles of 60% of the population of USA and half of the population of Canada. Lorain is.

  • 10. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 29, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    That is also true but in the 500 miles of 60% of the population of the USA and half the population of Canada ( and just look at the attractions Canada has :) etc. those with expendable income can hop on a flight to Pueto Rico, Spain Mexico and be there in the sunshine and old ruins and be basking in the culture and sunshine in no time at all …..so why would those that have that income to spend ( and we want the ones that can “spend” be tempted to come here to Lorain .I am not talking day trippers but making this a unique destination point… what would you say Lorain has that Puerto Rico or Spain and for the Canadians Cuba or anywhere else along the Great Lakes ( both sides :) don’t have? This is what I am looking for what makes Lorain different from anywhere else

  • 11. Mark  |  October 29, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Liz,

    http://www.locophotogblog.com/?p=196

  • 12. renee dore  |  October 29, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    The subject of the blog is what is unique about Lorain, and I think when comparing the other surrounding cities mentioned above- none have a history more interesting than Lorain. I have always thought that in order to move forward- we have to relish and make evident this citiy’s great past! Starting from 200 years ago thru to current times- this city went from nothing more than a lonely lakeshore trading post to being one of the greatest industrial cities on the Inland Seas. It never would have happened without the help of the shipcaptains and shipbuilders of the 1800′s who lived here, shopped here and and worked very hard to build Lorain. In a sense- what is left here in Lorain in the wake of the past industrial age makes Lorain unique. So, Lorain’s history is what sets Lorain apart. There needs to be more ways to display it and share it and be proud of it. We need to focus on improving what is still here- including the look of our uptown building facades. The smaller cities like Lorane visited and local places like Amherst and Oberlin had charm from the start and never lost it. They lost very little. Lorain has lost alot- but not it’s heritage. It’s still here- everywhere you look.

  • 13. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 29, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Exactly Renee!!! No other city has the same exact history as Lorain.. it is something that is already there waiting l…. Daniel’s thoughts on the Hispanic community are ALL part of Lorain’s HISTORY – their homes their churches ( part of the whole) the religious community Henery can tell you about our churches stained glass and the history of why we had so many churches has to be explored …. the Scots from the Sipbuilding . the underground railroad and the ship captains . the Irish community all these “nationalities came here and became “history” their homes even the places of business are still there…….the people in the cemeteries— the pioneers and the maritime history …… it is Lorains “history and her story” that is unique to Lorain…… more intereing becaus of her port and river- the Native Americans ………

    Now we have to find out more who slept there who built there who did what to make a difference in the greater scheme of things tie them to bricks and morter……

    Maybe we have no Strasbourg Cathedrals, but we have some wonderful religious architecture of an “international” bent…….We have to ….this town is a dusty old attic full of treasures we just have to be access it. AND as Staubach also stated
    “Take advantage of your “history”

    I spent 60 bucks to walk down smelly Edinbugh street at midnight to look at a parking lot that supposedly had people buried underneath it ….spent a fortune going down the Rhine and that is another story …..watch this space.

  • 14. Carolyn Sipkovsky  |  October 30, 2008 at 1:41 am

    I think it would be great to find finances from grants, individuals, or organizations that would restore Admiral King’s house, Port Side to make that area’s history come alive. Along with the renovation of Broadway’s business facades, 2nd street sculptures, wouldn’t this classify as a tourist attraction. Last week alone the Black River Historical society had guests from Michigan and Colorado, and for off season I think that is a good start even though many Lorainites have never been there. It is hard to convince Lorainites that their history is important. The newly formed Lorain Tourist Council is also working to find the same points of interest. In fact, Loraine copies of your blog entry was distributed at today’s meeting which included Lance from Jet Express.

  • 15. buckeyerino  |  October 30, 2008 at 2:26 am

    History would make Lorain more than just a day-trip? I can find history in many places. Sandusky has history. Oberlin has history. Milan has history. Akron has history. Cleveland has history. History is ubiquitous.

  • 16. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Ah but you won’t find “Lorain’s unique history to Loran” and really we have only scatched the surface Daniel.you spoke about the Hispanic Culture here in Lorain.what is their history here.who were some of the people , what are their stories?
    For many years Lorain Buried her past ….
    We won’t know what we have until we start looking….
    who lived here . who was the designer of those windows… do you know ??? does anyone?
    We have the state of Michigan “presevring and archiving our own Captain Wilford, we had a person from Michigan contact us just this month who has written a story from his experience waiting for publication from his “daughter’s ” perspective..

    Who built the first house in South Lorain? who was the entrepeneur who actually saved Lorain after the big scandal
    Lorain through the ages has “stories” and hidden places you said it yourself Lorain has and “international ” history……. and it is there already…….. couple with a few other things like you suggest in your previous posts and lets bring in some other factors as well….. but first Lets us find out what we do have maybe we will be surprised I know I have been …….. and it isn’t going to cost us anything to get the knowledge is it just some research and with “many hands” the job will be short…

    Ask yourself what made me spend over 250 dollars that day in Clovelly and the’all the tourists including Japaense and Korean and German tour busses really what you saw was what it was……. it was an experience……….but the people were there in droves and I have stayed in the New Inn which was very nice for a couple of days in an earlier trip
    in November and still the people came….. Their marketing is key they have marketed themselves well and given the people what they expected from the marketing….

    Think of Oberlin what does the average Europeans and Canadians because I have asked :) think when you say that I can tell you

    people think College and Underground Railroad………..

    Sandusky .Cedar Point…..

    Akron – Tires ( actually)
    Cleveland – Rock dn Roll Hall of fame and sports ( Europeans are big into sports)

    You talk abouit a Bill Richardson….I have my own “Bill Richardson” ( and his wife in a follow up to this blog post)
    ( just the beginning Daniel :)

    I could go on an on but the bottom line is Lorain has a history unique to Lorain not Sandusky or Oberlin but Lorain …we had experiences and people and stories they don’t have ( and maybe it could be a “cities experience” more offerings?????????? we have “more ” history as a matter of fact we just haven’t explored it ………

    we have torn down and negated and buried……. lets us see what we uncover…… can’t hurt won’t cost and in the meantime TPTB can explore other facets …….but I am not searching for the pot at the end of the rainbow miles away when the rainbow has another end in my own back yard…….
    We just have to find out what Lorain has that will make people want to come and suffer the “cobbles”

  • 17. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 30, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks Carolyn ….I really feel after running up and down streets in Ediburgh , Germany France and England surrounded by tourists ( not as many from the States) this time over that I know we have just scatched the surface of Lorain.and thank heavens for the Black River Historical Society that has been the bastion against total loss…are there any records still at city hall?

  • 18. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    A little off topic but it is about giving people what they want from the BBC today

    If you build it, how do you make them shop?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7698406.stm

  • 19. Brian  |  October 31, 2008 at 1:12 am

    COME TO LORAIN!!!!
    THE FAMOUS
    HENREY
    SLEPT HERE!!!!

  • 20. Carolyn Sipkovsky  |  October 31, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Yes, there are still those records at City Hall. We need to get them but BRHS has a problem with storage.

  • 21. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 31, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Brian .Henery never sleeps he is always “camera ready ! :)

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