Teaching Cleveland

Lesson 28

Handout 1 - Fact Sheet

The Haymarket

The area to the west and south of the Public Square and the the east of the Cuyahoga River, was traditionally known as the Haymarket. It began as a marketplace, where eventually a residential, business, and commercial district developed, and which, as the oldest housing stock in the city deteriorated, became Cleveland's first slum.

The area was developed after 1839 at the intersection of Michigan and Ontario Streets. The open-air market at which farmers sold produce and hay from the backs of wagons, met on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Farmers began gathering before sun-up on the 4 acre site. By 1856, the city fathers passed legislation in city council, creating an official city market and allocating funds for the construction of a permanent market building at Pittsburgh (Broadway) and Bolivar Streets.

Cheap housing made the area appealing to the transient workers of the docks and later to immigrants. By 1900, 40 different nationalities could be found in the area and social workers had to be familiar with a total of 14 different languages in order to be able to communicate with the population. Most of the immigrants were drawn into a cycle of poverty. The deteriorating housing was turned into multi-family tenements, and transients, derelicts, and criminals rubbed shoulders with newly arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe. Factories in the nearby Flats polluted the air and the skies were constantly gray.

Commercial buildings and small businesses mingled on the main streets with residential, social, and religious institutions. Saloons were by far the most plentiful commercial enterprise. Thirty saloons were located on Commercial Street alone. It was not an uncommon sight to see men and women drinking beer while walking on the street or seated at the curbside drinking from pails or buckets. Beer was cheap. For a nickel, you could get a two quart pail at almost any saloon in the neighborhood. Because of the ready availability of alcohol and its open use, the Women Christian Temperance Union made the Haymarket area a target of their reform movement, opening temperance reading rooms in the area. The Young Women's Christian Association opened the Friendly Inn at Central Place in 1874. Founded as a wholesome gathering place free from the evils of liquor, this social agency, at first provided a reading room where temperance tracts were available, and a meeting hall for men and boys. Later a restaurant, kindergarten, playground, children's library, and commercial laundry were added to the complex, but the emphasis remained on providing cheap clean lodging for drunks, and chapel services and nightly temperance meetings for the men of the neighborhood and their families. Social workers at the Inn taught women and children basic housekeeping and child care and provided bathing facilities for men and vocational training for boys. By 1907, the Inn added a children's dispensary to its complex. Each immigrant group had their own department within the Inn structure headed by a person who spoke their language. Classes in American speech, customs, and law were provided to new arrivals to ready them for citizenship.

Store front canteens were opened by a number of religious groups and the Salvation Army opened a barracks for transient men and poor families, displaced from their home for one reason or another. A free dispensary for children was established, as well as a milk dispensary where mothers who had no refrigeration in their homes could obtain fresh milk for their children.

Besides the Friendly Inn, the other important social service agency in the Haymarket was Hiram House. Established in 1896 as an outgrowth of a class project among a group of Hiram

College students, it was first located in a temporary structure on the west side of Orange Avenue. Eventually a permanent structure was erected at 2713 Orange Avenue. In 1900 the largest percentage of the population was Eastern European Jews. By 1914, most of these immigrants had abandoned the Haymarket area and were replacedby Italians, who made up 93 % of the population. In the post-World War I era, African-Americans from the South replaced the Italians and other white European ethnics in large numbers. The Italians helped to popularize the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables in the area, selling items such as oranges, bananas, olive oil, and garlic from stands in the Central Market, and pushcarts and wagons along the city streets.

George Bellamy, head of Hiram House from 1897 to 1946, was able to obtain substantial monetary backing from the prominent families of the city. He used the funds to build additional structures on land adjacent to the main building, including a public shower complex, as well as to purchase a rural camp in Moreland Hills, where children from the area would be taken during the hot summer months. Eventually Hiram House expanded its program into the city schools, creating satellite social service agencies. As the population of the area dwindled in the 1940s due to urban renewal and city demolition for freeway construction, Hiram House finally ceased operation in the area as a social service agency, although the rural camp still operates today.

The Haymarket was a rough and ready place. Crime was rampant and people ventured out on the streets at night only in a dire emergency. Police patrolled in twos and threes and a newly installed call box system allowed them to call for help if needed. Patrol wagons were available nearby at the Central Station to haul away drunken and disorderly citizens. By 1894 the city had established a mounted unit, and the policeman and his horse became a common site on the streets of the Haymarket. By 1890 the city's population had exceeded 350,000, a good portion of which was located in the crowded Haymarket area. 355 policemen in 12 different precincts across the city administered the law and keep the peace, but the roughest area was still acknowledged to be the Haymarket.

Today much of this area is covered by Gateway, the Tower City Complex, and the Innerbelt. The population of immigrants has been dispersed to other areas of Cleveland and to the suburbs, but the history of the Haymarket still remains.

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