Cleveland, OH

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The History of the Cleveland Ghetto*

The black community was originally known as the Central community, between Euclid and Woodland Avenues, with Central Avenue being the heart of the community. The Cleveland ghetto would later expand, going as far as E. 105th in the Fairfax community, along Cedar and Quincy streets.

Before the 1920s and 30s, when southerners began to relocate to the city, there was a small black population in the city which grew in the Central area between E. 55th and E. 30th.

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Today’s Central neighborhood, Cleveland’s original black community.  Above is the redeveloped Longwood housing complex.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, a new wave of people came into the city of Cleveland, most from southern states like Alabama, as many found opportunities in employment and better living conditions.

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After blacks from the south came into the city, the views on the black community changed. Many public places became segregated, employers decided not to hire blacks and the ones who did have jobs were the first to be fired or demoted to a smaller position.

cleveland ghetto

Mt. Pleasant is based around streets like E. 131st and Kinsman on the city’s South Side (Southeast).

By the 1940s, the community expanded into the Fairfax neighborhood, between 79th and 105th around Quincy and Cedar streets.  There was also other small communities in the city, like Mt. Pleasant, Hough, Miles Heights (Miles and S. Lee), and around 79th Street and Kinsman.

The Central neighborhood later became home to some of the first housing projects in the country that were built around the 1930s and 40s, like Outhwaite and the Cedar Estates.

In the 1940s, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority was created, which led to more building of housing complexes like Woodhill (Morris Black), Valley View (Tremont area of the West Side), and a few more in the Central neighborhood.

cleveland ghetto

The Outhwaite Homes of the Central / Down The Way in the Cleveland ghetto.

By the 60s, people moved into the Glenville and Hough communities, which would eventually gain national attention for the Glenville Shootout and the Hough Riots, as people began revolting against the mistreatment of the Cleveland ghetto.

During the 1970s, the East Side of Cleveland became predominantly black, along with parts of the West Side, with the help of the housing projects like the Valley View Homes and Lakeview Terrace, which started out for white families.

cleveland ohio ghetto

One of Cleveland’s largest areas, between Chester and Superior, is the Hough neighborhood.

The Cleveland ghetto of the West Side is mostly known for the largest Puerto Rican and Latino community in the state of Ohio. The Puerto Rican community originally began on the East Side but relocated to the West Side in Clark-Fulton and surrounding areas to be closer to the nearby jobs.

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History of Cleveland Gangs and ‘Hoods

Before the late 80s, there were local cliques and some Cleveland gangs like the Brick City Outlaws, Dynamite Devils, Puerto Rican Outlaws, as well as white groups on the West Side, who’s names came from the park they would hang around, like Halloran Park or Jefferson Park gangs.

From the late 1980s to the 2000s, the city had gain Chicago and Los Angeles affiliations in both the black and Latino communities, creating a new era of Cleveland gangs.

Cleveland West Side’s Puerto Rican community would be made up of Maniac Latin Disciples and even some Latin Kings.  Also on the West Side, there is a number of other neighborhoods of blacks and Latinos, like Detroit from 95th to 81st, Bosworth off of 117th, Bellaire, the W.28th Projects of Lakeview, and the Mad House along Madison Ave.

cleveland gangs

Cleveland West Side, off of W.25th Street.

One of Cleveland’s most active neighborhood is “Down Tha Way”, the old Central community, a place that the city forced most black residents to live in.  This area has changed over the years, first with the constructing of housing projects and later with the new era of the streets.

cleveland-outwaite3

Today, Down Tha Way is made up of 30th (Cedar Estates), Longwood, Case Court (Outhwaite), Unwin, Compound, King Kennedy, and Bundy n Woodland, all in the Down Tha Way section.

Even though Cleveland is basically divided into East and West sides, the East Side of Cleveland has a number of sections. The streets of the Southeast or the South Side, stretched from Garden Valley to the Kinsman County area to the Uptown section of Harvard, while Cleveland’s Northeast section is along the streets of Superior and St. Clair.

cleveland ghetto

Eddy Road, off of St. Clair

From the days of the Dynamite Devils to the days of the Chicago and Los Angeles affiliations in the late 80s and early 90s, like Vice Lords in Wade Park or the Kinsman County Crips.  Even though the affiliations continued into the 2000s, Cleveland gangs of today are not as big and do not play much of a role in the streets.

Today the Cleveland ghetto has much of its population, with over 385,000 people, decreasing over the years as many people are moving into the suburbs of Cuyahoga County, like Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Maple Heights or other small cities outside of the Cleveland East Side.

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*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

*Cleveland History Sources and Resources:

Kusmer, Kenneth. “A Ghetto Takes Shape: Black Cleveland, 1870-1930” University of Illinois Press. 1976

Phillips, Kimberley. “Alabama North”. University of Illinois Press. 1999

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