Near West Side neighborhoods
have roots in Brooklyn Township
by Maryann Kershey
When Moses Cleaveland and his group representing the Connecticut Land Co. landed on the east shore of the Cuyahoga River, they found only wilderness. What is now the city of Cleveland began as a venture in real estate speculation. By 1800 the population had grown to seven. A small New England town was planned and the work was started and continued on the east side of the river from the Flats up into the area that is now Public Square. On December 23, 1814, Cleveland received its charter as a village and by 1820 had a population of 606. The evolution that took Cleveland from an overgrown village to a city occurred when the railroad came to town in 1851.
The west side of the river, however, was still Indian territory. After the 1805 signing of the treaty of Fort Industry, more than two million acres west of the Cuyahoga were exchanged for money. The area was surveyed into standard 160-acre lots and incorporated into Brooklyn Township. However, there was no great migration to the area. An 1814 map drawn by Alfred Kelley, first President of the Village of Cleveland, noted only four structures on the west side.
Gradually, the west side of the river was settled and in 1818 the area became Brooklyn Township. These early settlers were mainly young native-born farmers whose energies focused on agriculture. During the 1880's, the west side of the river began a transformation from an agricultural area to a growing village. This growth began in the flats area with companies emerging as a result of lake and river traffic. Large tracts of land still comprised the outlying areas.
Cleveland did not become an industrial city until the war broke out in 1861. With the canal system into central Ohio came a surge in lake and river traffic as well as an increase in population. People were needed to build the canal, operate water traffic and work in the factories sprouting along the river in the flats area.
With little transportation, people lived close to work. Gradually neighborhoods emerged, first in the flats. As the demand for labor increased, expansion spilled out of the flats. The first area was Ohio City. Ohio City, Tremont, the Stockyards area, Detroit-Shoreway Cudell and parts of Clark-Fulton all evolved out of Brooklyn Township. Slowly each neighborhood became its own entity.
In 1832, the population of the east side of Cleveland was 1,500, while the west side population was only 250. Within three years, the east side population had increased to 5,080 and the West's to 1,150. The West Side now extended from River Street as far west as Harbour St. (now W. 44th St.) and Willett St. (now Fulton Ave.) and as far south as Monroe Street which today runs along the Monroe Avenue cemetery.
By 1855 the western boundaries had moved to Junction (which runs from Ravine Ave. south to Train Ave.) and Scott (now W. 57th St.). The southern border was Walworth Run, once a creek named after a farmer in the area. By 1869 the map shows Tremont as a populated area. Troops were billeted there during the Civil War.
By 1884 the western city limits extended to Storer Avenue on the South, bordering on Brooklyn Village, and to Gordon Street (now W. 65th Street) on the West. An area called West Cleveland lay beyond that. By 1899, the boundaries extended to W. 117th St. and just beyond Denison Ave. on the South. The area past W. 117th St. was Lakewood Hamlet to the West and Rockport Township to the Southwest.
OHIO CITY - One of Cleveland's oldest neighborhoods, Ohio City originally was part of Brooklyn Township. Its original borders were: Lake Erie on the North; the Cuyahoga River on the East; Walworth Avenue and W. 44 Street on the South and W. 65th St. on the West. It was an independent municipality from March 3, 1836, until June 5, 1854, when the City of Cleveland annexed it.
In 1840 it had more residents than Brooklyn Township. By l854, the population had grown to 2,000 with an increase to 4,253 in 1850. In 1836 there was a dispute between residents of Ohio City and Cleveland over the use of the Columbus Street Bridge; the bridge siphoned off commercial, river traffic to Cleveland before it could reach Ohio City's mercantile district.
Once annexed, Ohio City became wards 8, 9, 10 and 11 of Cleveland. A number of ethnic groups including German, Hungarians and Irish, lived in the area in the late 1800's. The 4.5- square-mile area is now home to more than 25,000 people representing 15 ethnic groups.
TREMONT - Mainly an industrial and residential neighborhood on the Near West Side, Tremont's boundaries include the Cuyahoga River to the East and North and Valentine Avenue to the South and Scranton Avenue on the West. It also was originally a part of Brooklyn Township and was also a section of Ohio City from 1836-1854.
In 1850 Cleveland and Ohio City were thriving communities, but the area of W. 14th St. was still an Indian Trail leading into an uninhabited area. The first families to arrive in 1818 were the Branch & Kellogg families, who came from Connecticut. Much of the area was farmland before 1870. However eventually industry began to grow. Tremont's industrial base began with the establishment of the Lamson-Sessions Co. on Scranton Road in 1869.
Many of the street names date back to 1851 when a group of prominent citizens founded Cleveland University. The area was then called Cleveland Heights. The university survived until 1853. The name for the neighborhood came from the construction of Tremont School in 1910.
Numerous immigrants settled in the area: Irish and Germans in the l860s, Poles in the 1890s, Greeks and Syrians in the 1900s, Ukrainians in the l950s and finally Puerto Ricans in the 1960s. In all, 30 different nationalities have lived or are still living in Tremont.
DETROIT-SHOREWAY-This west side community's center is around the W. 65 St. and Detroit Ave. and bounded by Ohio City (W. 45th St. on the East, W. 85th St. on the West, Edgewater Park on the North and Lorain Ave. on the South). Gordon Square, the heart of the neighborhood until the 1930's, is still the commercial center.
Cleveland annexed the neighborhood when Ohio City and Cleveland merged. The development of the streetcar after 1863 was responsible for most of the commercial development along Detroit.
Initially a Yankee enclave, the neighborhood developed a cohesiveness with the arrival of immigrants, who built churches and other institutions in the area. Among the earliest were the Irish, who settled between W. 45th and W. 65th streets and built St. Coleman's Church on W. 65h St. in 1880. Then the Germans inhabited the southern area around W. 76th St., beginning in 1830 when many came to work on the Ohio Canal. The Italians and Romanians followed. After World War II many of the ethnics moved to the suburbs, making way for Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Appalachians.
CUDELL-This neighborhood's center is around the Cudell Recreation Center at West Boulevard and Detroit Ave. Frank E. Cudell donated the property to the city. The area includes six city blocks between W. 98th and W. 100th streets as well as Detroit and Cudell Avenues. Jacob Mueller bought the original half of a tract from Franklin Reuben Elliott in 1860. Mueller transferred the property to Cudell--who had married Mueller's daughter. Cudell left the house to the city in 1916 when Cudell died. In 1939, two years after the death of Cudell's wife, the Department of Parks and Recreation opened the house as the Cudell Arts and Crafts Center. It is considered to be one of the first municipally operated arts and crafts centers in the country. In 1964 the city built a large new brick recreation center and gymnasium on the property.
STOCKYARDS - During the decades of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, families from Brooklyn Centre, Cleveland and Ohio City bought allotments in this area for farms or for speculation. When the west side incorporated into Brooklyn Township, the area that eventually became the Stockyards was Lots 33, 34, 35, 46, 47 and 48. During the years 1850-1880 the city expanded around Walworth Run and Clark Ave. In 1867, the Cleveland city limit east of Gordon Street moved south of Clark Ave, and in 1873 it moved three blocks south to Storer Ave. and west past W. 73th St. The 1874 maps show that most of the streets in these areas were already platted for house lots.
In the late 1840s Cleveland's first railroad, the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati (CCC) started making its way from the Flats up the Walworth Run Valley in the late 1840s. The railroad had initially built stock pens at Scranton and Fairfield in the 1850s. In 1878 it established the Union Stockyard there. However, a landslide in the early part of the 1880s destroyed the pens. Looking for a safe site on flat land, the railroad claimed the area at Clark and Gordon, then belonging to John Sargent. Callihan says the railroad shaped everything else in the neighborhood. Jobs and people came with industry.
Much of the housing in the area, dating back to 1895-1910, was built for the working-class. According to Bill Callihan, director of the Stockyard Area Development Association, "This is what makes this neighborhood unique. There were never cycles of class, never a middle class. It began as a working class neighborhood and has remained a working class neighborhood today."
CLARK-FULTON - A good portion of what is now the Clark-Fulton neighborhood also emerged from Brooklyn Township but portions South of Clark came from Newburgh Township. The boundaries of the Clark-Fulton neighborhood are roughly from Trowbridge on the South to Train Avenue on the North and Scranton on the East to W. 48th on the West.
German and Bohemian immigrants were the first settlers in the area. St. Procop's on West 41st street, founded in 1872, served the Bohemian population. St. Michael's on Scranton was started by German Catholics in 1883. Many of the new arrivals worked in industry in the Flats or in breweries on Clark and Train Avenues.
Currently, the largest employer in the neighborhood, MetroHealth Medical Center, was opened by the city of Cleveland as City Hospital in 1837. Plans began after a devastating cholera epidemic in 1832. In 1958, voters turned City Hospital over to the county.
The Clark Fulton neighborhood has a mix of industry, retail and residential areas. The land from Forest City Foundries now sits idle ready to be marketed to a new buyer. Over the past several decades, the area lost several large employers when Lion Knitting Mill on W. 25th closed and Milbrook closed it baking facilities and later its thrift store at Twinkie Lane and W. 25th. Expansion by L.J. Minor is now contributing to new jobs in the neighborhood.