“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 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 has existed virtually unchanged. Tucked away in a valley out of view, this two mile stretch of road – which passes through five westside neighborhoods, is notoriously known as the illegal garbage dumping site in the city where tons of trash are routinely discarded without repercussion. This lack of enforcement has invited nefarious characters the opportunity to carry out and commit other violent crimes – including armed burglaries, rapes and homicides without fear of getting caught.
But there’s another side to Train Avenue that doesn’t get talked about enough – its natural beauty, making 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 was at one point a tributary called Walworth Run which connected into the Cuyahoga River – a river that famously caught fire an estimated 13 times in its recorded history. But, the Cuyahoga wasn’t the only body of water with excessive pollution problems, Walworth Run also had its fair share.
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 it by dumping their waste into the once thriving natural stream without any accountability.
Area residents, who used it as their primary source of fresh water, complained for decades about the foul stench permeating from Walworth Run rendering it useless for drinking, until City Council passed a measure to bury it and turn Walworth Run into an extension of the city’s sewer system in the early 1900s.
Once the city buried Walworth Run and converted into part of the city’s sewer system, they paved portions of it to connect to other roads and named it Train Avenue, likely due to it running parallel side-by-side to the railways, where it faced new issues of pollution, immediately becoming the go-to place to discard old and unwanted mattresses, tires and other trash, along with other nefarious acts of violence done towards human beings, animals and the environment.
For the last one hundred or so years, anytime local media reports on activities related to Train Avenue, it is exclusively to cover something horrible that occurred, which means a random car was lit on fire or an another deceased human body was discovered, in addition to the random discoveries of dead dogs in garbage bags that continually are found.
Additionally, under the many bridges that cross over the valley Train Avenue rests in, the city’s displaced homeless population make use of the shelter they provide to protect themselves from the elements, as well as a dwelling space in close proximity to downtown but far enough where they’d be safe from public scrutiny.
Although the problems on Train Avenue 5persist and have been largely ignored by people in positions of power who could lend a hand in changing its course, there have been multiple attempts to implement plans in the surrounding area to help reinvent Train, so it’s clearly an area that has been on the city’s radar for some time. Unfortunately, something always seems to get in the way that prevents those ideas from being executed and delivered.
From the Train Avenue Greenway Plan – a concept that would have transformed a portion of the road into a recreational path for bikers, runners and walkers and connecting it to the city’s overall metroparks trail system; to the Red Line Greenway – an all-purpose rails-to-trails vision linking the westside neighborhoods together, which a section of it butts up against Train Avenue. The Red Line Greenway was completed in May 2021, despite being severely compromised from its original version due to budget.
And, now – here we are in 2023, and there are preliminary talks of new reinvestment opportunities to hopefully solve over a century of neglect.
Have a personal experience about Train Avenue you’d like to share? A business inquiry or partnership related to this project you’d like to explore? Just want to find out ways to help?