Ohio City

glbco.gif (28829 bytes)One of Cleveland’s older neighborhoods, Ohio City (City of Ohio) was originally part of Brooklyn Township, founded in 1818. On March 3, 1836, two days before Cleveland’s incorporation, the City of Ohio became an independent municipality. It remained so until June 5, 1854 when it was annexed to Cleveland.

Although Cleveland had 6000 people, compared to Ohio City’s 2000, the two cities became fierce competitors, especially in the area of commerce. With Ohio City’s incorporation came a fight for shipbuilding and tonnage from canal boats. This rivalry was best demonstrated in 1836, when Ohio City residents sought, violently, to stop use of Cleveland’s new Columbus Street Bridge, which siphoned off commercial traffic to Cleveland before it could reach Ohio City’s mercantile district. This battle is referred to as the "Battle of the Bridge."

Upon annexation to the City of Cleveland in 1854, Ohio City became known as the Near West Side. In the late 19th century, the area attracted people from New England, Germany, Hungary and Ireland who were seeking jobs at the docks, mills, foundries, distilleries and bottling works.

One of its focal points was, and still is, the West Side Market, built in 1912 on a site that the first mayor of Ohio City, Josiah Barber and another pioneer, Richard Lord, deeded to the City on condition that it be kept a marketplace. Market Square, so designated since around 1840, was originally the site of the Pearl Street Market, a one-story wooden market built in 1868 at the corner of Lorain Avenue and Pearl Road (West 25th Street).

Following World War II, the area entered a period of change. Many social service agencies and individual activists played an increasingly prominent role in the neighborhood in response to social needs. In 1968 the Ohio City Redevelopment Association was chartered to stem the tide of neglect in the historic neighborhood. The association helped to strengthen a developing trend of restoration that had begun in the early 1960s. From 1963 to 1978, over 100 structures were refurbished, restored or redeveloped, including St. Ignatius High School, the Carnegie Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, and the West Side Market, as well as numerous private residences. The cost of these projects was $30 million.

By this time Ohio City was home to over 15 ethnic groups representing 25,000 people in a 4.5 square-mile area. Among the newer immigrant and migrant groups were Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and people from Appalachia.

Updated September, 2011

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