September/October 2013 Newsletter:

Bluestone Heights: The Weave of Local Nature and Culture

by Roy Larick, PhD

Bluestone Heights landforms

Bluestone Heights landforms

Cleveland’s Heights are a segment of the Portage Escarpment. The area has a special bedrock foundation element: the Euclid bluestone. This bed of resistant sandstone adds unique character to the local landscape. The land atop the bluestone is the Bluestone Heights.

The Heights has had four place revolutions. Bedrock arrival: 360 million years ago. Ice Age climax: 18,000 years ago. Industrialization: 200 years ago. De-industrialization: now.

The Ice Age transformed the bluestone landscape. Glacial retreat dug terraces and gorges, and deposited beaches and moraines. Ice retreat generated the diverse ecologies considered legacy to Euro-American arrival.

With industrialization, Clevelanders buried glacial landforms and disrupted legacy ecosystems. We are now a mature city; urban shrinkage reveals old features and functions. Clevelanders can begin to glimpse lost legacy.

Bluestone Heights, the program, is born of a new urban spirit. At any place, the weave of nature and culture creates a deep history of place. Bluestone Heights studies deep history to learn weave dynamics. The goal: help achieve more sustainable weaves for our places.

Using online mapping and onsite exploration, Bluestone Heights takes on the nature-culture weave in the varied places where Lake Erie meets the Portage Escarpment.

Bluestone Heights has two education programs. Each offers exciting on-the-ground events for October:

Euclidian Place

Euclidian Place takes on deep history at more than a dozen City of Euclid natural features. Walking tours cover the Portage Escarpment, the St. Clair Terrace, and the Lake Erie shoreline. The program explores the legacy of development upon local nature and asks participants to consider the future.

Sun, Oct 20, 4-5:30 pm: Euclid Falls walking tour. At the falls, Euclid Creek cuts a sandstone gulch and a bluestone gorge. Explore the southern gorge. Consider Metroparks plans for the expanded reservation. Depart: Welsh Woods, Euclid Creek Reservation.

Portage Periplus


Portage Periplus profile

Portage Periplus profile

Portage Periplus explores the nature-culture weave along the urban escarpment. The program is based on the literary device of periplus, a narration of voyage along a shoreline.

For Octavofest 2013, the Portage Periplus Journal relates conceptual voyages of cartographers H.M. Blackmore (1852) and G.M. Hopkins (1912) at six stops along Euclid Ave, from Doans Corners to Wickliffe. Presented in collaboration with the Morgan Conservatory.

Wed, Oct 23, 7-9 pm: Portage Periplus Journal unveiling. Morgan Conservatory, 1754 E 47th St, Cleveland, OH 44103. Project summaries by Roy Larick, William C. Barrow, and Tom Balbo.

Sat, Oct 26, 4-5:30 pm: Little Italy, Set in Stone walking tour. Little Italy lies in the journal’s Doan Brook ‘stop.’ Explore local stone features on Murray Hill side streets. Depart: HEART of Little Italy, 2094 Murray Hill Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106.

Wed, Oct 30, 7:30-8:30 pm: Dr. Larick presents the Bluestone Heights program to the Sierra Club Water Sentinels. Location: Metroparks West Park Reservation Watershed Stewardship Center, Parma. Any of the three events provides a concrete introduction to the Sierra Club event.