In Cleveland and the Western Reserve in Vintage Postcards, author and compiler R. Wayne Ayers shares the history of Northeast Ohio through a collection of more than 200 postcards and photographs, some of which date back to the early 19th century. Arranged in seven different categories that range from Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River (in its lovely and non-flammable glory) to University Circle and Residential Cleveland. The book is particularly fun for natives of the area, who may or may not find themselves identifying familiar landmarks of the 21st century in the background of the black-and-white Victorian photos.
The majority of the book's focus is--as would be expected--on the postcards and photographs, and it is tempting to flip through without bothering with the minimal text, which admittedly does grow repetitive after several pages of similar images. Still, there are a few cheeky comments tucked away in the history, and the captions are worth the read. The only real flaw of the book lies in the fact that some of the images lack precise dating. However, as most readers will probably not be perusing the title for the purpose of constructing an exact pictographic timeline of the history of the region, this is really only a minor irritant.
Overall, Cleveland and the Western Reserve is an fun and easy read, ideal for both the entertainment of Northeast Ohioans as well as for the introduction of the city to those who tend to know Cleveland primarily through our sports teams and flaming river, neither of which are usually all that complimentary.
Fun fact: the city's original name was spelled "Cleaveland," so named for founder Moses Cleaveland. The first a was unofficially dropped in 1833 when a local newspaper discovered that "Cleaveland" was one letter too long for its masthead. Thus, Cleveland was born. Sorry, Moses.