Teaching Cleveland
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High School Edition: 9-12

Lesson 39

Ominous Doom


To make students aware of the controversy which arose in the mid-1940s over the proposed construction of the Central Avenue Freeway.



St.John AME Church
Majestic Hotel
Urban League

Lesson Focus:

  1. Why was the proposed route of the Central Avenue freeway such a controversial topic among the African-American community of Cleveland during the 1940s?

Teaching Procedure:

  1. Distribute Handouts # 1 and 2 to the students. Have the students read the article and discuss the following questions:
    a. Why was the Central Avenue route selected?
    b. Why did the majority of African-Americans in Cleveland oppose this construction?
    c. What important institutions in the African-American community would be effected by the construction of this freeway?
    d. What were the main objections the African-American community had to the adoption of this plan?
  2. Distribute Handouts # 3 and 4 to the students. Have the students read the article and examine the map, and then answer the questions below:
    a. Why did the editorial feel that the construction of the Central Avenue Freeway would spell "ominous doom" for the African-American community in the Central Avenue area?
    b. Do you feel that the editorial expressed anger and resentment toward the upper class? Give an example.
    c. How does the editorial propose to prevent the freeway construction?
    d.Compare the routes shown in the map on Handout # 4. to the proposed Dual Hub plan which would run along Chester Avenue. Which Cleveland institutions would benefit from the completion of the Dual Hub?
    e. Today how are most freeway routes determined?
  3. Have some students pretend that they are a resident of the Central Avenue area in 1946. Have them write a letter to the editor, opposing the plan. Have other students pretend that they are the planners who designed the freeway, and write a letter defending the choice of routes.
  4. Have the students research other freeway routes in Cleveland's history. Have residents been successful in stopping the construction of any other proposed freeways?

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