The North Broadway neighborhood, originally part of Newburgh Township, formed one of the earliest settlements in Cuyahoga County, with New Englanders first arriving in the area in 1796. Newburgh's early growth resulted from its location on high ground, away from the mosquito-infested lowlands of the Cuyahoga River.

The construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal, the Sault-St. Marie Canal and the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad in the first half of the 19th century led to industrial growth and increased commercial trade in the Broadway area, including the establishment of several steel mills. By the mid-1870's, most portions of the original Newburgh Township had been annexed to Cleveland.

The arrival of heavy industries was accompanied by the addition of numerous rail lines which divided the Broadway neighborhood into several distinct sub-areas. These rail lines and their many spurs also contributed to the establishment of a development pattern characterized by incompatible mixtures of housing and industry.

The 1870's also brought a large influx of Czech and Polish immigrants to work in the nearby iron and steel mills. These immigrants constructed the small working-class cottages that are typical of North Broadway. Commercial development occured primarily during the late 19th and early 20th centuries along Broadway, which was a major travel route that served a stage coach line connecting Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Years later, Broadway served as the route of a streetcar line connecting southeast Cleveland to Downtown. At its peak in the early 1920's, the intersection of East 55th and Broadway was one of the City's most active retail districts.

From 1950 to 1980, the neighborhood experiencing substantial out-migration. As a result, business activity also decreased, especially along retail streets. The focal point of retail activity in the neighborhood has shifted to the Aetna Road intersection where a discount department store and a modern supermarket are now located.