• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Cleveland, Ohio - Chagrin Falls Village


Dear Leader
Staff member
It seems like most older cities in the Northeastern and Midwestern US have at least one suburban village with a character that can best be described as "upscale quaint." You know the place ... a foo-foo old-timey village with a Main Street USA visual appeal, with streets lined by art galleries, independent "carriage trade" clothiers catering mainly to upper-upper middle class women, an upscale pet toy store, an Orvis store, and a golf-themed gift shop. The people roaming the streets are mostly, in the words of Garrison Keillor, "above average" -- attractive and well-heeled in a restrained way. Gays and lesbians, the overweight, and African-Americans are rare sights.

My hometown, Buffalo, has four such places; East Aurora, Lewiston, Williamsville and Orchard Park. Cleveland has a few, too, the most notable being Chagrin Falls Village. It's something of an enclave hidden in the bottom of the Chagrin River valley, surrounded by extremely wealthy equestrian estate communities, about 20 miles east of downtown Cleveland.

The van Sweringen brothers had plans to extend the Shaker Heights rapid transit line to Chagrin Falls, and some roads with accomodation for the ROW were built, but the Depression hit before the plans could come to fruition.

If Chagrin Falls looks familiar, it's because you've seen it before ... in Calvin and Hobbes comics. Bill Watterson was originally from Chagrin Falls, and he returned home after he stopped creating Calvin and Hobbes comics. He keeps a very low profile, but the small bookstore in the village is the only place in the US where, if you visit at the right time, you can buy Calvin and Hobbes books autographed by Watterson.

Presenting Chagrin Falls, photographed Saturday, 3 July 2004. Larger images are in the Cyburbia Gallery.



Chagrin Falls is a nice place. One thing it does have going for it is the location on the river. What struck me most about it was that, for the most part, the buildings were in no way distinctive. Usually these "quaint mainstreet shop" areas have a solid collection of late-19th century architecture. Here, this doesn't appear to be the case. Except for a few, the buildings look to be pretty utilitarian, and many of the older ones are not restored.

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
About twenty (20) years ago my older brother was in a local theater production in Chagrin Falls. If I remember correctly, the theater was right by the falls. I haven't been there since.

He was very active in local theater all through the eastern suburbs and in the area near the universities. Some of his friends appeared in THE DEER HUNTER, whcih was partially-filmed in the near downtown Cleveland area.

They also appeared in a television movie that Betty Davis made, perhaps in Changrin Falls. My brother's hands, holding firewood, are in a scene.

Wow, so few stages of separation.....heh heh heh

Bear Trying To Remember The 80's