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Cleveland: Ground zero for the housing bubble

If houses go to heaven, then Classen Avenue, in the Cleveland neighborhood of Slavic Village, has been the scene of a mass Rapture. Ted Michols watched it all happen. A retired trade magazine editor, a bachelor, a man who likes to sit on his porch and share the neighborhood with passersby he’s known fifty years, Michols has lived his entire life in a little square house his grandfather bought in 1923. It was the kind of house that used to be good enough for everyone in Cleveland: 800 square feet of domesticity in the middle of a pond of grass where a Virgin Mary is flanked by floral suns of marigolds, and an American flag. He shared it with his brother, another bachelor who died in 2005. Now he’s alone. His old school friends want to know why he never followed them to the suburbs. To them, Slavic Village is the Old Neighborhood, but no longer the neighborhood they grew up in. “It’s changed,” they say delicately. That’s Cleveland code for, “the element moved in,” which in turn is code for “black.”

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