Nestled in the heart of North East Ohio, just 50 miles south of the Mistake on the Lake, is the little football town that could…Canton, Ohio.
Though I’ve ragged on it throughout the years, I can’t deny I am who I am today because of the town where I grew up. I’ve read enough children books to know that you can’t deny where you’re from, so I won’t even try…I am a Canton girl.
Founded in 1805, Canton was supposed to be a trading crossroads in the former Northwestern Territories… hence the name, taken from the antiquated name for Guangzhou, China. It seems whoever stopped in this cornfield had high hopes for the city…and I don’t think they’d be disappointed. Home to companies like Hoover vacuums (which has shut down its factory), Timken Ball bearings, Diebold, and various steel mills, Canton is indeed a “trade” city. Not to mention the nickname of “Little Chicago” it earned in the 1920s due to rampant bootlegging and racketeering. Nowadays, in Recession America, you could say Canton’s main export is crippling depression…but still, people maintain their cheerful demeanors. Small shops putter through and keep the local landscape vibrant…including my mother’s own “Yarnia Yarn Shop” (named by yours truly).
Canton has seen its fair share of important muckety-mucks too. President William McKinley was born and raised there, and Marilyn Manson went to my high school. We can also boast such luminaries as Macy Gray, Kosta Koufos, and Mother Angelica that old nun on Catholic TV.
If you ever find yourself in Canton…I pity you. Haha, just kidding. There’s lots to do in town…we were also named the fattest city in the country for having the most restaurants per square mile. The downtown district along Market Ave. is starting to be reborn, and there are lots of nice restaurants and galleries…I recommend Little Chicago for lunch and Fideli’s for Dinner…as well as Second April Galerie and the John Sexton photo gallery. You can always check out some thrilling community theater at the Canton Player’s Guild, or see a surprisingly nice collection at the Canton Museum of art, both at the Canton Civic Center. And there is, of course, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which I have actually never been to (football’s not really my bag), but of course is the thing that keeps Canton on the radar. If you visit, go in the end of July during the Hall of Fame Festival for parades and rib cook-offs and balloon launches and people being just generally debaucherous and Midwestern.
And, the recommendation of the century is Marc’s…they are all around town, and they will blow your mind. Part closeout store, part drugstore, and part supermarket, Marc’s is the only store you will ever need. In fact, I made my fateful discovery of Lomo at the Marc’s in North Canton 8 years ago…my old LC-A was sitting on a shelf in a makeshift electronics department there, priced for gasp $40! God only knows what “truck” it fell off the back of, but I owe a lot of great life decisions to that day…including my current employment at the Lomography Gallery Shop NYC.
So, there you have it…that’s Canton in a nutshell. If you eve do find yourself there for some reason, let me know, and I have plenty more recommendations. If nothing else…it’s the cheapest place in the country (seriously). You can live pretty easily for not too much $$$, and that makes it A-okay in my book.