City Storiez

The LAND: Inside the East Side of Cleveland

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Inside the Streets of the Cleveland Ghetto

The Land, made popular by LeBron James’ run as the star of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the legendary hip-hop group of Bone Thugs N Harmony, but East Side of the Cleveland ghetto is the true heart of the city.

Broken into four separate sections, the East Side consists Down the Way, Out the Way, In the Way, Up the Way, and you can probably include the separate city of East Cleveland and other surrounding urban areas within “the Heights”.

DTW (Down The Way): The home of the Cleveland projects

Ranging from Cedar and 30th, in the neighborhood officially known as Central, home to the majority of the Cleveland projects, to 105th in the Fairfax neighborhood, which is centered around Cedar and Quincy streets, are the main areas within the Cleveland Down The Way community.

In probably Ohio’s most active community, meaning much street and illicit activity occurs within the boundaries of the neighborhood, has been beefs and neighborhood wars that date back decades as a community filled with public housing projects has become the heart of the Cleveland ghetto.

With neighborhoods like the Cedar Estates (known strictly as 30th or Dirty 30), Unwin, Cedar and 33rd, Longwood (rebuilt into the Arbor Pointe complex, but still referred as Longwood), Case Court and the CPG/Compound of the large Outhwaite Cleveland project, as well the former high rise of King Kennedy and Bundy Drive’s Delaney Village, there should be no surprise of the amount of activity within the area.

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The Case Court section of the Outwaite housing complex. One of the first Cleveland projects over the years became one of the most reputable with two separate section, Case Court and the Compound.

From Longwood against Case Court to further into the Fairfax neighborhood with Cedar against Quincy, all conflicts have created such a reputation within the neighborhoods. 

As former gangs of the King Kennedy Outlaws and the Brick City Outlaws faded away, the new generation have become truly neighborhood based with a proud stance for the community, which often leads to conflicts with groups who reside on the other side of the street.

Originally, the Central neighborhood was home to various European immigrants that resided around the major corridors in the area, whether 30th, Woodland, or later 55th

The community would later transform into a predominantly African American neighborhood, starting around the 1940s as the former immigrants and descendants of a variety of European groups fled the area for other East Side communities, ones that were closer to the suburbs, or within the actual suburbs of Cleveland.

As black southerners from places like Alabama relocated to Ohio’s most northern city, many moved into the already existing black community of the Central neighborhood, which at the time was between E. 30th and E. 55th around Central Avenue.

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Once known as Dirty 30, the Cedar Estates is one of the last original Cleveland projects, while being centered around 30th and Cedar.

The neighborhood of Central would later become solely a community of public housing projects, as majority of Cleveland projects and public housing complexes are located in the Central, or the Down the Way neighborhood.

Beginning in the 1930s, the city created the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority which would later build its first public housing complexes, the Outhwaite Homes and Cedar Estates in the Central neighborhood, as well Lakeview Terrace on the West Side around W. 25th and Detroit.

Following Outhwaite and the Cedar Estates, the Central neighborhood, or Down The Way, became home to the Longwood, Friendly Inn (Unwin), King Kennedy, and later Delaney Village housing complexes, which made it the most populated area in the city of Cleveland.

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Across 40th Street from Outhwaite is the newly rebuilt Longwood housing complex, now known as Arbor Pointe. Built in the 1950s, as part of urban renewal, the reputation of this Cleveland projects has lasted for decades, even after the complex was rebuilt.

Today, gentrification is slowly creeping into the neighborhoods, especially Fairfax, as Cleveland Clinic’s expansion has removed dozens of homes and businesses and relocated hundreds of people. 

In the Central neighborhood, housing projects like Outhwaite and the original section of Cedar Estates are still up, but with the recent rebuild of the housing projects around 30th and Central into the Sankofa Village apartments only time will tell what the future of the Down The Way community will be.

ITW (In Tha Way)

With the hope that Ohio and Cleveland would bring African American families better living conditions than the south the black population of Cleveland constantly increased, which in turn helped the city’s African-Americans establish new communities in other East Side neighborhoods outside of Central.

Rainbow Terrace, the remaining section of Garden Valley after the complex was rebuilt.

The smallest section of the East Side is the In The Way community.  An area of two notorious neighborhoods of the Garden Valley and the Morris Black Cleveland projects as well as neighborhoods around Cedar Avenue, from 71st to 105th, Quincy Avenue, from 79th to 93rd, Broadway, and Fleet Avenue.

Fairfax, which expands from 71st to 105th between Carnegie and Woodland, is an extension to the Central neighborhood as black families have been in the area since the 1940s and 1950s, even became the former home to the late soul singer of Bobby Womack as his family were one of the first to reside in the community, along Quincy Avenue.  

Cedar Avenue, as well Quincy Avenue, within the Fairfax community has changed dramatically. With the close location to the Cleveland Clinic, the expansion of the hospital has wiped dozens of homes and businesses.

With Cedar’s and Quincy’s close location to the Cleveland Clinic the area is slowly disappearing within the city’s African American population as the expansion and constant construction of nearby Cleveland Clinic is pushing the people and businesses out of their community.

Garden Valley, which was the former home to the Valley Brick Outlaws, was one of the first housing projects in Cleveland to be torn down during the 2010s as the community has been newly rebuilt leaving only the smaller complex of Rainbow Terrace.

UTW (Up Tha Way)

Up Tha Way, which can also be referred as Uptown or the South Side, is a well-known section of the city with people living along Kinsman or Harvard as many families have had generations of relatives living “Up Tha Way”, especially in the Mt. Pleasant community.

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Along the route of Cleveland’s RTA’s number 14 bus is a view of the South Side’s most reputable area, Kinsman, with sections like Kinsman 20s, Kinsman 30s and the Kinsman 40s, which represents the separate sections of Kinsman between 116th and 149th of the Cleveland ghetto.

Another large area of the South Side is 116th, home to John Adams High School this section is probably Up Tha Way’s most populated area with blocks from Benham to Lenacrave, an area that has constantly made the local media.

With Miles Avenue, Buckeye Road, 102nd City off 93rd, and the multiple sections of Harvard like the Deli and J Park, Up Tha Way is the East Side’s largest area by expanding from 93rd street to 190th.

There have always been small black sections on the South Side, like the area around 79th and Kinsman, Mt. Pleasant, and in an old area once known as Miles Heights, which was located near Miles and South Lee.  Today, the South Side, or Up The Way, has grown from 93rd and Kinsman to the suburbs of Miles Heights and Warrensville Heights.

OTW (Out tha way)

Out The Way, located in Northeast Cleveland is large section of the city that has became well known for the various ‘hoods of Collinwood, Hough, like Hough Harlem and Hough Heights, the 105th and St. Clair area, nicknamed the 10-5 and the Wasteland while also being the home of Bone Thugs N Harmony, and many others.

Rewinding back to the 1950s, as the black community of Cleveland was expanding during the 1950s and 1960s, African-Americans eventually began to make their way and reside in the NorthEast Side communities of Hough and Glenville.

During a time of racial tension, these two neighborhoods would later gain national attention during the 1960s for the “Glenville Shootout” and the “Hough Riots”, as people began revolting against their mistreatment within the local black community.

Over the years, especially after racial tension reach its peak, the entire Northeast side of Cleveland, or Out The Way, became predominantly African American, expanding 55th to 152nd along either St. Clair or Superior. 

Currently, the community is a shell of itself as dilapidated housing and vacant properties plague many of the neighborhoods that sit along St. Clair and Superior, from the Hough and St Clair-Superior neighborhoods to the South Collinwood area around 152nd.

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A row of vacant homes and vacant lots in the Hough neighborhood.

With less and less housing as vacant properties on the East Side are widespread, the East Side is slowly losing its population as years of decline have led the black community to grow into the suburbs of Cuyahoga County in places like Cleveland Heights or South Euclid.

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