A City Put to Sleep

CLE Shutdown 1

On March 23, 2020, the afternoon before Ohio’s “Stay at Home” order was about to take effect at midnight, the streets of Cleveland were already clearing out. A low bank of clouds or fog was hanging over the city like a blanket being pulled up for a long sleep.

The city itself was a surreal sight, still some vehicles, still some people scurrying around doing their jobs, but far from a normal Monday afternoon in downtown Cleveland.

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Occasionally I would run come across someone on the streets, not necessarily working, but they were few and far between.

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But it was the streets themselves that were most surreal.

CLE Shutdown 7CLE Shutdown 20CLE Shutdown 23CLE Shutdown 21Ticket to Ride

Two weeks later on April 5th, I decided to check out Cleveland’s West Side, just across the Cuyahoga River and found that very usually busy area pretty much abandoned as well. Just across the Veterans Memorial Bridge, where Detroit Ave. meets W. 25th Street, I could easily stand in the middle of the street, sometimes for minutes on end, taking photos.  Again, the blanket of fog was being pulled across the city.

Westside Shutdown 2Westside Shutdown 4Westside Shutdown

When will it all wake up and come back to life? Only time will tell. When it does, it will be like waking up from a long, very strange dream. One that we would never have imagined, but in fact did come true.

Until then, stay safe, stay socially distanced and wash your hands!

About Kolman Rosenberg

My interest in photography began as a college newspaper and yearbook photographer during the stormy 1960s and 1970s. I was influenced by many of the great photojournalists and documentary photographers such as W. Eugene Smith, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Margaret Bourke-White and other black and white photographers of Life Magazine and the earlier Farm Security Administration. Though many of these photographers documented the horrors of war and the plight of poverty, they also showed me the dignity and adaptability of human beings in their desire to prevail.
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6 Responses to A City Put to Sleep

  1. Maria Kaiser says:

    Thanks Kolman- these are so interesting in their emptiness draped in fog- were you on your bike??? Lisa and I went down to see the busy herons delivering and pushing little branches into messy nests! That’s alway fun to watch and watch and….. watch and, … The went on a walk along the paths by. Beaver pond- it too was busy- seems the wildlife is thriving totally ignoring distancing from one another except in ways they always have – a few Canada geese squawking at one another like the Flamingoes at the zoo but nothing out of the ordinary … except the two legged animals steering away from one another as though there was a virus in the air, it stuck to the branches or traveling in a cloud surrounding each one Maria

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Hi Maria, no I drove down there and roamed around. Mostly Public Square and along Euclid for a few blocks and then around the intersection of W. 25th and Detroit and down the street to the West Side Market area. Kind of funny that the parks, where I’ve gone too, were much more crowded and threatening than downtown Cleveland was.


  2. Jon Theobald says:

    A well done and, obviously, timely collection documenting Cleveland’s history during this crisis. I really enjoyed several of your shots (the helmeted man sitting on the bike, etc.).

    Jon Theobald


  3. Roger Davis says:

    Nice pics Kolman. Stay safe and be well.


    Sent from my iPhone



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