Lake View Cemetery brought the first European people to settle in the area adjacent to the cemetery, and they literally carved out an existence that is still thriving to this day. The people were Italian stone cutters who loved their homeland and did the best they could to reproduce it in the U.S. This area now called Little Italy is the most European neighborhood in Cleveland.
The tiny winding streets are still made of brick. Buildings are so close to each other and the streets that the shops and restaurants spill their sounds and people onto the sidewalks and roadways out front.
All this jostling makes a walk down Murray Hill or Mayfield Roads in the neighborhood a cultural experience. Smells of hot espresso and cigar smoke come and go between the pleasant garlic and basil scents from the restaurants. It all comes to a head at the Feast of the Assumption in August, one of Cleveland’s oldest and best attended festivals, when tens of thousands of people pack the streets to indulge in Italian food, games of chance and the carnival rides behind the 100-year-old Holy Rosary Church.
In recent decades, the area, with Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art just blocks away, has become a magnet for younger people and for artists. Galleries, artist studios and quirky little shops abound, sharing the area with places that still have old-world ambiance.