Originally part of Brooklyn Township, the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood was absorbed by the City of Cleveland between 1854 and 1894 through annexations of Ohio City, Brooklyn Township and the Village of West Cleveland. Detroit Street (Avenue), a major route leading westward from the City, became the neighborhood's primary commercial artery. Housing for middle-income families developed along the north-south streets intersecting Detroit, while the neighborhood's larger, more architecturally distinguished homes were built along Franklin Avenue to the immediate south. Detroit-Shoreway's population peaked in 1920 at 41,500.

Beginning in the late 1890's, industries such as Union Carbide located along the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern rail lines on the bluffs over looking Lake Erie. Also near the turn of the century, industries began to develop further to the south, along the rail lines running through the Walworth Run Valley (generally parallel to Train Avenue).

The Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood has been home to a succession of ethnic groups beginning with the Irish and German settlers of the 19th century. After the turn of the century, these early settlers were outnumbered by immigrants arriving primarily from Italy and Romania. In more recent years, these groups have been joined by Hispanics and migrants from the Appalachian region.

Significant population loss in Detroit-Shoreway occurred between 1960 and 1980, as population fell from 36,500 to 20,741. Housing demolition necessitated by the construction of I-90 (which opened in 1978) contributed to this loss of population.

Revitalization efforts in the neighborhood have included the renovation of the Gordon Square Arcade (West 65th and Detroit), the addition of an outdoor recreation complex at the Zone Recreation Center and the development of new townhouses and apartments in the vicinity of West 70th and Detroit through the efforts of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church.