Every intersection, storefront, and alleyway serves as a puzzle piece in Cleveland's extensive history. New Cleveland resident Phil Kidd, who moved to the Detroit-Shoreway to work as a city planner for the Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization in 2019, aims to piece this puzzle together by running every street in the city.
Kidd, a recreational runner, grew tired of his usual routes during the mandated quarantine in 2020, so he started EveryStreetCleveland.com
as a means to see his new home at a more granular level.
Over a year into this passion project, Kidd has become quite the Cleveland historian.
"The prep work takes way longer than the run itself," Kidd noted. He starts by exploring the neighborhood generally and then will sketch out his route on google maps marking any notable locations and researching them through local databases. Next, he goes into street view paying attention to anything he finds cool, like a mural or a tucked-away storefront.
"When I do the run, there's always something I miss," Kidd said. Whether it's a family florist in the neighborhood for four generations or a gas station owned by a local parish, he is interested in details in our communities that are too often overlooked.
As he moves further through the city, he's starting to put dots together to form the matrix that is Cleveland's historical context.
"Once you figure out a neighborhood's settlement patterns, you can see a community's history through its storefronts or architecture style," Kidd said. The Clark-Fulton area, for example, was initially settled by Eastern European immigrants, and then Italians, and most recently Puerto Ricans. With this context, Kidd passes a storefront with a German name on his route and can guess that the business has been in the neighborhood since its original settlement.
As a city planner, Kidd sees the city streets for more than just their history; he can see their future. He started his running routes in the Detroit-Shoreway area where he lives and works. The neighborhood has seen rapid development in the last few years but faces many problems with community members being priced out of their homes and businesses. "It's a tale of two neighborhoods," Kidd noted. "Half of the neighborhood is luxury housing and rapid development, but there is still a 40% poverty rate."
Kidd uses his expertise on the development of the Detroit-Shoreway community to analyze development trend lines in other neighborhoods. For example, in the Clark-Fulton area, he sees comparable development moves, like developers demolishing old houses and building new, more expensive ones. He hopes recording these trends will help city planners like himself get ahead of rapid development to protect affordable housing.
The blogs aren't all history and city planning, though. "I try to make it fun," Kidd emphasized. He often takes notice of local bars and ends his run with a treat or meal from a local favorite.
EverystreetCleveland.com is a passion project for Kidd. What makes it redeeming is the feedback he gets from native Clevelanders, thanking him for showing them their city in a new light.
"All I want is for people to appreciate this city as much as I do," Kidd said. "This experience has helped answer questions about the broader story of Cleveland and deepened my appreciation for where I live and what I do."
As for the question of how long the project will take: "There are 3,000 street miles in Cleveland. I do about one 5-mile run a week," Kidd said. "You do the math."