The origin of the present Union-Miles neighborhood can be traced to the old village of Newburgh, which held the distinction of being the region's largest settlement at the start of the 19th century. The nearby "village of Cleveland," plagued by swampy conditions and an outbreak of malaria, was relegated to the status of a "small village on the lake about six miles from Newburgh" -- a settlement which benefited from its location on higher ground.

Among the area's first settlers were Judge James Kingsbury, who built a house and sawmill along the stream now known as Kingsbury Run near the present intersection of East 93rd and Union, and Charles Miles Sr., for whom a portion of the area was named. The present Miles Park Historic District (one block north of East 93rd and Miles) is the site of four institutional buildings and ten houses which date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Steel mills which were first developed in the 1850's and 1860's in the vicinity of East 91st and East 93rd Streets drew an influx of Irish and Welsh immigrants, followed in the late 19th century by Slovenian, Romanian and Czech immigrants. Between 1910 and 1930, the local population swelled from 11,000 to 28,000; and, by 1940, Cleveland was home to the largest Slovenian population outside of Slovenia. Racial change occurred in the 1960's and 1970's as the neighborhood's non-white population increased from approximately 10% in 1960 to over 90% in 1980.

In recent decades, an aging housing stock and declining employment in the steel industry began to take its toll on the Union-Miles neighborhood. The exodus of many middle-income families resulted in reduced population and income levels and contributed to the decline of several neighborhood shopping districts.

The neighborhood is the site of an innovative "child-designed" playground developed in the late 1980's in the Kingsbury Run Park. More recently, a number of market-rate housing projects in and around the neighborhood have enhanced prospects for further development and revitalization in Union-Miles.


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