The Edgewater neighborhood existed as part of the Village of West Cleveland from 1871 until its annexation to Cleveland in 1894. In the 1870's, most of the land north of Detroit Avenue (the area's principal roadway) was occupied by three large farms. On the south side of Detroit Avenue, the Children's Aid Society and the Eliza Jennings Home (founded by the YWCA to treat indigent and incurably ill women) occupied land donated from the estate of Eliza and Simeon Jennings.

By the 1890's, the neighborhood had begun to acquire a suburban character. While a number of substantial landholdings remained between Detroit and Lake Avenues, several side streets north and south of Detroit had been developed into estates of five to ten acres for the residences of many of Cleveland's wealthiest citizens, including industrialist Marcus Hanna.

By the second decade of the 20th century, however, most of these estates had been subdivided into smaller parcels, as Cliff, Harborview and Edgewater Drives were developed for houses and apartments. Edgewater experienced its most intense growth between 1910 and 1930, when the neighborhood's population climbed from 3,620 to 1-,835. Although only a few remnants of the old estates still exist, the houses which replaced them form the greatest concentration of higher-priced housing in the City.

Between 1900 and 1920, modest houses were built in proximity to the industries which located along the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern rail lines. Also during this time, numerous apartment buildings were developed along Detroit and Clifton Avenues and, later, along Lake Avenue and West Boulevard. In 1990, three quarters of all housing units in the Edgewater neighborhood were renter occupied multifamily units.