Originally a part of East Cleveland Township, the present Hough neighborhood was first settled in 1799 by Oliver and Eliza Hough. Residential development intensified after the area's incorporation in 1866 as part of the Village of East Cleveland.

During the latter half of the 19th century, as Euclid Avenue was transformed into "Millionaire's Row," the Hough community to the north of Euclid Avenue became home to Cleveland's most prosperous residents as well as several exclusive private schools. An often over-looked landmark in Hough is League Park, at East 66th and Lexington, the home of major league baseball in Cleveland from 1891 to 1946. In its prime, the park had a seating capacity of 27,000.

Housing deterioration began to take hold in the depression of the 1930's as owners of Hough's relatively large houses were forced to defer maintenance and take boarders. Overcrowding and deterioration worsened in the 1950's as Urban Renewal and freeway construction displaced thousands of lower-income African-American residents from nearby Central. The proportion of African-American residents in Hough climbed from 14% in 1950 to over 75% in 1960.

Frustration over worsening living conditions and increasing joblessness mounted during the 1960's and finally erupted on July 18, 1966 in seven days of riots, causing loss of life and property.

As the flow of new residents was reduced to a trickle, the exodus of middle-income residents from Hough resulted in the population plummeting from 76,000 in 1960 to under 20,000 in 1990.

Despite the persistence of poverty and widespread deterioration, the 1980's and early 1990's witnessed signs of rebirth in Hough. The restoration of confidence in Hough's future is symbolized by the 277-unit Lexington Village townhouse complex at East 79th and Hough, construction of numerous stately single-family homes and the new, approximately 100,000-sq. ft. Church Square shopping center at East 79th and Euclid.