The North Collinwood neighborhood was settled by eastern European immigrants who worked at the nearby railroad yards. But when the freeway bisected the neighborhood in the early ’60s and railroad work tapered off, the neighborhood fell into decline.
That’s being reversed by a band of determined entrepreneurs and creative types who have turned one of the neighborhood’s main streets, Waterloo, into an arts and music mecca. The evolution began when the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern opened in 2000, slowly attracting galleries, shops, record stores, art-making spaces, galleries and restaurants. Each year in June, it shows off its progress during the Waterloo Arts Fest.
It’s built on those businesses by landing grants to transform the street through a recently completed full-scale streetscape project and to rehab nearby homes that had fallen into disrepair and market them to artists and musicians, attracting a community of doers. Meanwhile, vestiges of the past remain in the ethnic restaurants, bakeries and sausage shops that still dot the area.