“Somewhere Between Wall Street and Main Street,
Is Life on the ‘Other’ side of the tracks”
About 2 Miles
“2 Miles” is a true crime documentary thriller exposing our trash crisis and how the lack of resources and reinvestment opportunities contribute to the further decline of already vulnerable neighborhoods.
For over 120 years, Cleveland’s Train Avenue on the city’s westside has existed virtually unchanged. Tucked away in a valley out of plain view, this two mile stretch of road – which passes through five neighborhoods, is notoriously known as the illegal garbage dumping spot where tons (and tons) of garbage are routinely discarded without much, if any, repercussion.
The lack of enforcement and intervention has invited nefarious characters the opportunity to carry out and commit a host of other violent crimes – including armed burglaries, rapes and even homicides without fear of getting caught.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – For those who know Train Avenue, its natural beauty makes it an easy fight to advocate for.
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Train Avenue | Past, Present & Future
It would be impossible to discuss Train Avenue without first examining its past. It wasn’t always called Train Avenue…it wasn’t even always a road. Prior to 1900, the pathway we know as Train Avenue today was at one point a tributary called Walworth Run that connected into the Cuyahoga River – the river notoriously known for catching fire an estimated 13 times in its recorded history due to excessive pollution, and made famous nationally in a 1969 cover article for Time Magazine covering the infancy of environmental movement. But, Walworth Run also had its share of environmental problems.
The birth of Train Avenue was founded on the idea by Cleveland city officials to solve a growing issue in the mid-late 1800s where nearby industry – such as slaughterhouses, breweries and other manufacturing operations, exploited Walworth Run by dumping waste into the once thriving natural stream without any accountability.
Area residents used it as their primary source for fresh water, and complained for multiple decades about the foul stench permeating from Walworth Run rendering it useless, until about the year 1900 when Cleveland City Council passed a measure to bury it and turn it into an extension of the city’s sewer system. Once completed, sections of it were paved to connect to other roads along the railroad tracks, and Train Avenue was born.
Aside from the environmental problems Walworth Run faced, there was also an increase in violent crime, and those didn’t end with the birth of Train Avenue. Additionally, it quickly faced new issues of pollution; immediately becoming the go-to place to discard unwanted trash, which persists to this day.
Whenever Train Avenue is reported on by local news media, the stories are exclusively about something horrible that has happened. It is also not uncommon to find random dead dogs in garbage bags discarded along this forgotten-about road. Additionally, under the many bridges that cross over the valley Train Avenue rests in, you will find some of the city’s displaced homeless population, which use the bridges for shelter to protect themselves against the elements and away from public scrutiny.
Although Train Avenue’s problems have been largely ignored by decades of administrations, there have been few attempts to implement plans on Train Avenue and its surrounding area to help reinvent Train.
From the Train Avenue Greenway Plan – a concept that would have transformed a portion of the road into a recreational path for walkers, runners and bikers, connecting to the city of Cleveland Metropark system. Or, the Red Line Greenway – an all-purpose rails-to-trails vision linking eight westside neighborhoods together, with a section of it butting up against Train Avenue (Side Note: The Red Line Greenway was completed in May 2021, despite being severely compromised from its original version due to budget).
Here we are in the year 2023, and there are preliminary talks of new reinvestment opportunities to hopefully solve over a century of neglect. It’s clearly an area that has potential, and the hope for this film project is to continue to shine a bright light on how wonderful Train Avenue can become, and be used as a model for other city’s who have their own version of Train Ave.
Do you have a personal experience about Train Avenue that you’d like to share? A business inquiry or other partnership related to this project that you’d like to entertain? Do you just want to find out ways to help?
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