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  • Writer's picture The Vindicator

Abandoned in Cleveland: Exploring the Past with Glenn Petranek

We’re excited in Cleveland. The atmosphere is full of anticipation for great things happening in our city. Urban renewal has brought modern health and service industries to our economy, the arts districts are booming, and people around the United States are noticing. As this new, “better” version of Cleveland emerges, it’s easy to forget the rich heritage that’s left behind in the ashes. The stunning 19th century architecture, the skeleton of the old steel industry, forgotten schools with rusty, old lockers, abandoned factories ornamented with graffiti and decay - they all remind us Cleveland natives of where we’ve come from.

Glenn Petranek is a successful Cleveland photographer and CSU alumni. Now 58 years old, he’s been in this buisness since the age of 2. “I used to sit with my dad in the home dark room and my job was to turn the enlarger on and off… I could watch pictures in the developer way back then, of course that seemed like magic at the time.” Glenn has been taking pictures of our city since highschool, but more recently, he’s been taking his camera on an exploration of Cleveland’s remaining past. This is an emerging trend in photography in cities across the United States. A modern art form commonly called “urban exploring,” captures the untold stories of forgotten areas of a city. In Cleveland, there are several hidden oases of old buildings, schools, and churches full of scenes many of us never get to see. In these photos, Glenn’s work will take you on a brief tour of these hidden places. He unveils a land of decayed books and paintings, where graffiti is art, not vandalism, and where rubber ducks run wild.

For hundreds more pictures like these, check out Glenn’s website at If you click on “image galleries,” you will find entire digital albums of urban exploring, scenic Cleveland views, and even some vintage photography from Glenn’s archives. If you’d like to meet the photographer in person, be sure to look for one of Glenn Petranek’s booths this spring and summer at arts festivals around Cleveland. He’ll be starting his season May 16th at the Hessler Street Fair.



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