Although first settled in 1826 by British farmers from the Isle of Man, the area now known as Mt. Pleasant remained predominantly rural until after 1900 when it was subdivided to accomodate European immigrants moving east from the densely-developed neighborhoods near Downtown Cleveland. During the mid-1920's, Kinsman Avenue became the institutional and commercial center of a growing Jewish community, and East Boulevard (now Martin Luther King Drive) became the site of many stately homes, most of which remain today.

Between 1920 and 1930, the neighborhood's population tripled, rising from 14,000 to 42,000. Unlike other east side Cleveland neighborhoods which underwent racial change in the 1960's and 1970's, Mt. Pleasant has been home to significant numbers of African-American residents since the turn of the century. It is reported that, in 1893, a contractor unable to pay cash wages compensated his African-American employees with vacant lots in a subdivision near Kinsman Road between East 126th and East 130th Streets. By 1907, approximately one hundred African-American families had settled in Mt. Pleasant. By 1970, over 95% of the neighborhood's residents were African-American.

Mt. Pleasant is the most residentially developed neighborhood in the City with almost 64% of its land use devoted to housing. The average for Cleveland is 34%.

In recent decades, population loss and an exodus of middle-income families resulted in increasing property deterioration and business vacancies, particularly along Kinsman Road and Union Avenue. Today, although deterioration persists, development of a new shopping plaza at East 143rd and Kinsman, construction of market-rate single-family houses in the Kingsbury Run area, and the presence of many well-maintained houses provide evidence of the neighborhood's continued vitality.