Cleveland: The Flats, the Mill, and the Hills

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The Flats, a district near downtown Cleveland, was once was the vibrant heart of Midwestern industry and is now in the throes of change: Some of its warehouses and factories have been transformed into nightclubs and restaurants, while homes in adjacent neighborhoods have been replaced by mini-mansions.  In Cleveland, photographer Andrew Borowiec documents the Flats today and evokes the way of life they once embodied.
Given the rare opportunity to access one of Cleveland’s vast steel mills before it was modernized or destroyed, Borowiec employed his camera to explore the Flats and its monuments of American industry. His striking black and white images reveal the broken power and vulnerability of the once-mighty mill as well as its relation to the surrounding city and its neighborhoods. The commercial buildings, factories, warehouses, and iron bridges that sustained Cleveland’s industrial pulse convey a quiet dignity in these compelling photographs, as do the modest frame houses that sheltered those who labored for decades in the Flats.

As Clevelanders struggle to redefine themselves as citizens of a twenty-first-century corporate metropolis, the Flats stand as a haunting testament to a time when men worked with their hands and steel was indeed the backbone of our nation.  Borowiec’s compassionate but unflinchingly honest gaze challenges us to look both at and beyond the images of Cleveland and to meditate on our common history of loss and rebirth.

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Editorial Reviews


"From the gray skyline to the black steel bridges . . . all are resilient reminders of the backbone of America that is sometimes forgotten. The eighty-seven halftones document this American reality."—Kevin Fuller, Afterimage

— Kevin Fuller

Bob Thall
“ I think Andrew Borowiec’s book is spectacular.  As much as I liked his first two books, Along the Ohio and Industrial Perspective: Photographs of the Gulf Coast, Cleveland is my favorite.”
Les Roberts
“Borowiec has photographed Cleveland the way it’s always looked—with its work ethic and its pride and its loneliness ever-present in the landscape. When I first looked at the photographs, they touched a real and prideful and sometimes hurtful nerve inside me; they reminded me of the same places I’ve written about, places that in a very real way affected the fictional characters I brought to life. . . . This is an amazing collection picturing the place I love.”
Afterimage - Kevin Fuller
"From the gray skyline to the black steel bridges . . . all are resilient reminders of the backbone of America that is sometimes forgotten. The eighty-seven halftones document this American reality."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781930066809
  • Publisher: Columbia College Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,477,606
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Borowiec is professor of art at the University of Akron. He is also the author of Along the Ohio and Industrial Perspective. He has received numerous grants, including one from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his photographs are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, among others.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Living in Cleveland

by Les Roberts

The Plates

Afterword: What’s Left?

by Rod Slemmons

List of Plates


About the Author and the Essayists

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