This eye-popping piece of art is difficult to miss. With a large red handle and a stamp bearing the word "FREE," the artwork has always been the center of controversy. Artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen created the massive 28'-by-48' steel and aluminum sculpture in 1985 for Standard Oil of Ohio. Originally planned to be located on Public Square in front of the old SOHIO building, the stamp was placed in a storage facility in Indiana after SOHIO underwent a change of management. BP America, which later assumed management of SOHIO, donated the stamp to the city of Cleveland. The artists protested the stamp's relocation from its original planned site, but later agreed to place it at its current location of Willard Park, just east of City Hall. The Free Stamp was officially inaugurated on Nov. 15, 1991, with the approval of then-Mayor Michael R. White.
Noisy and fun-loving, this 100-seat restaurant is part of the Corner Alley complex, a high-energy hangout featuring 16 lanes of bowling and a fashionable martini bar. With cheese here, bacon there, and deep-fried goodness nearly everywhere, spa cuisine this is not. But thanks to zesty flavors and often-imaginative preparation, the offerings still beat the standard bowling-alley lineup by a long shot.
Chef-owner Karen Small stocks her larder with simple, homegrown ingredients, then coaxes them into precise assemblages of soaring flavor at this hip, youthful, and energetic bistro in the heart of Ohio City. And as any trendinista will tell you, the Fig's happy hours are among the best in the city for unwinding on a budget.