Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Guest Clevelander17

What Happened to East Cleveland?

Recommended Posts

Wasn't East Cleveland at one time one of the area's more prosperous suburbs?  What events lead up to its current decline?  I've looked around online and haven't been able to find a nice historical summary of how things changed.

 

On the other side of the coin, is there a future for the city?  Can it recover to its previous glory?  Or is it only going to get worse in the coming years?  I would like to think that it has a number of things going for it (proximity to University Circle and downtown, rail service), but these are advantages that haven't seemed to have matter much in the past few decades.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't East Cleveland at one time one of the area's more prosperous suburbs? What events lead up to its current decline? I've looked around online and haven't been able to find a nice historical summary of how things changed.

 

It may have been one of the area's most prosperous suburbs in 1890 or 1900 when it was mostly Euclid Ave mansions and Rockefeller's summer home, but not when fully built out.  According to Dennis Keating's "The Suburban Racial Dilemma,"  as of 1960, the city was a solid middle class suburb but it was composed mostly of rental housing (60%) and the housing was significantly cheaper than in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Hts or even Euclid- for example, median value of owner occupied housing in EC was only 8% higher than in the City of Cleveland.  Low cost of entry coupled with adjacency to city neighborhoods undergoing rapid demographic turnover from middle class white to lower middle class black, then from middle class black to working class and impoverished black...

 

I wish I could be optimistic about EC, but there's no shortage of affordable housing in suburbs that are much more intact, so I don't see how it's going to attract the middle class families it needs for a turn-around.  Terrible for the residents stuck owning homes there and an architectural tragedy too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

East Cleveland should be annexed.  That alone won't solve its problems, but I can't envision those problems being solved until then.  It needs to be redeveloped in conjunction with University Circle and that's a lot easier to do when it's all one entity.  Think about the political stories coming out of there recently.  That sort of thing dissuades development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Annexation won't solve E. Cleveland's problems, it just makes those problems someone else's.  Adding E. Cleveland's problems to those of the City of Cleveland doesn't seem likely to get those problems any more attention.  With current thinking and rethinking on regionalism, perhaps the greater Cleveland community can provide some assistance to E. Cleveland with police/fire/garbage collection/road maintenance/etc. -- whatever services become more regional rather than under the control of individual suburbs.  Ultimately though I think we need a local leader in E. Cleveland to pursue solutions to its problems.

 

The new mayor of East Cleveland seems to provide a bit of hope.  He's young, optimistic, well-educated, and with some experience in government outside of E. Cleveland and its past corruption scandals.  I hope he succeeds.  One advantage E. Cleveland has over Cleveland Hts. is the existence of a business base.  Granted, much of the housing in E. Cleveland probably needs serious investment for rehab, and large tracts may need to be bulldozed and rebuilt, but it could happen.  It just won't happen overnight. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problems are already someone else's... they're everybody's.  If you live on the east side you live right by East Cleveland.  Even if you live on the west side, or out in Solon, East Cleveland remains "your" problem.  You just don't have to live in it, which is nice for you.  It drags down property vaules far outside its borders by being in the same metro and being so nasty.  If Solon and Westlake were suburbs in a metro that didn't have an East Cleveland, or that had a decent East Cleveland, they'd have higher values themselves. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^Meh, not sure why East Cleveland's decay really effects outlying suburbs.  But in any case, if I were a resident of East Cleveland, I would vote for annexation in a second.  I wouldn't be so keen on spending overhead for an independent EC city government that delivers such poor services.  Not sure the City of Cleveland would have me though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^Meh, not sure why East Cleveland's decay really effects outlying suburbs.

 

If you're in a swimming pool... and there's a dead squirrel floating waaaaay down at the other end... does that distance really matter, when you're evaluating whether to remain in that pool?  No.  The entire pool's either clean or it's not.  The clean end of a clean pool is better than the clean end of the dead-squirrel pool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is unfortunate, but I don't know if there would be any amount of planning which could have stopped EC's demise based on events which happened beforehand.  We can thank urban renewal as one of the main culprits, however I believe that annexation of the city may be inevitable.  Though the city still has some strong residential streets, so much of the residential housing stock has to be torn down because of the foreclosure crisis that the city may never recover.  The city's best chance at a true rebirth as a destination for both residents and businesses lies with University Circle.  Planning should be done concurrently with UC (however, the same could be said regarding Cleveland's neighborhoods which surround UC, but that's another topic).

 

Sure the city has great assets, including it's boarder with University Circle, the Red Line and Healthline, and Huron Hospital along with what's left of it's historic housing stock (including some architecturally BEAUTIFUL apartments).  But I agree with 327- the city will fare better (at least right now) with annexation.  Some of the residents I know in the city are actually in favor of annexation, which I don't think would be nearly as impossible as it would seem to have passed.  If tax sharing/ consolidation between municipalities in the county comes to fruition some day, this area should definitely get the help it needs. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We'll take Forest Hills and "the forgotten triangle" if the City of Cleveland takes the rest ;)

 

I agree with most of what is said above, but I will throw this thought in as well.  EC has absolutely beautiful architecture.... in absolutely horrendous condition.  When you add up Cleveland weather, an abundance of wood siding (which I definitely prefer to aluminum... who doesn't) and very loose city oversight, you get eyesores popping up on every block.  The infrastructure has been crumbling for some time now as well.

 

But my #1 reason is lack of safety force presence.  It is unforgiveable how low the police presence is in this City.  It's not the cops fault.  One of my best friend's dad just retired from that department.  The financial support they get is simply inadequate to deal with such a dense population.  Some "order-maintenance" policing would do wonders for EC.

 

Without it, you have places like the beverage drive-thrus that will sell to anyone (I used to buy there when I was 16), well-known drug-dealing hotspots like "Dome", and delinquents not even knowing what the word "consequences" is.... not that their parents shouldn't be teaching them that, but that would be for another thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Without it, you have places like the beverage drive-thrus that will sell to anyone (I used to buy there when I was 16), well-known drug-dealing hotspots like "Dome", and delinquents not even knowing what the word "consequences" is.... not that their parents shouldn't be teaching them that, but that would be for another thread.

 

That was our Friday night plan in high school too...drive into East Cleveland and buy beer.  Never denied or carded once.  Was a great plan until, ironically, we were mugged leaving the convienence store...the person wanted our beer.

 

But the lack of a central authority figure will generally cause a city or neighborhood's demise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^Meh, not sure why East Cleveland's decay really effects outlying suburbs.

 

If you're in a swimming pool... and there's a dead squirrel floating waaaaay down at the other end... does that distance really matter, when you're evaluating whether to remain in that pool? No. The entire pool's either clean or it's not. The clean end of a clean pool is better than the clean end of the dead-squirrel pool.

 

I don't like pools- I much prefer swimming with all the dead things in lakes and the ocean :)

 

I understand Rusk's thesis and am familiar with pretty harsh critiques of his methodology- I don't think there's a consensus that he proves causation in his work.  In any case, the mechanism by which decline in EC would bring down property values in Westlake is not very clear to me.

 

I think you'd have much better luck explaining to people in other nearby suburbs (Euclid, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, etc.) that as East Cleveland declines, more of its impoverished residents will be looking for housing in other places.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^Meh, not sure why East Cleveland's decay really effects outlying suburbs.

 

If you're in a swimming pool... and there's a dead squirrel floating waaaaay down at the other end... does that distance really matter, when you're evaluating whether to remain in that pool? No. The entire pool's either clean or it's not. The clean end of a clean pool is better than the clean end of the dead-squirrel pool.

 

What if it was a piece of sh!t instead of a dead squirrel?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's what I had originally typed... but I decided that it implied too much and opened additional cans of worms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just how far can we stretch the swimming pool metaphor?  Here's my take.  It's a huge swimming pool, and there's an area of it where people pretty much just defecate with impunity.  No one wants to be in a swimming pool where there's people dumping in the water, but, hey, it's the only pool in the town, so a lot of them are just going to move as far away from the crappy part of the pool as they can.  Others will just swim nearby and hold their nose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't East Cleveland at one time one of the area's more prosperous suburbs? What events lead up to its current decline? I've looked around online and haven't been able to find a nice historical summary of how things changed.

 

It may have been one of the area's most prosperous suburbs in 1890 or 1900 when it was mostly Euclid Ave mansions and Rockefeller's summer home, but not when fully built out. According to Dennis Keating's "The Suburban Racial Dilemma," as of 1960, the city was a solid middle class suburb but it was composed mostly of rental housing (60%) and the housing was significantly cheaper than in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Hts or even Euclid- for example, median value of owner occupied housing in EC was only 8% higher than in the City of Cleveland. Low cost of entry coupled with adjacency to city neighborhoods undergoing rapid demographic turnover from middle class white to lower middle class black, then from middle class black to working class and impoverished black...

 

I wish I could be optimistic about EC, but there's no shortage of affordable housing in suburbs that are much more intact, so I don't see how it's going to attract the middle class families it needs for a turn-around. Terrible for the residents stuck owning homes there and an architectural tragedy too.

 

My parents lived in East Cleveland after emmigrating from Ireland, my Dad in the '40s, my Mom in the late 50's.  When they got married they bought their first house there.  Bach then the east side Irish community was as strong as the west side.  From anecdotal stories I heard over the years, once the Hough riots happened, people took off for points either east or west.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I understand Rusk's thesis and am familiar with pretty harsh critiques of his methodology- I don't think there's a consensus that he proves causation in his work.  In any case, the mechanism by which decline in EC would bring down property values in Westlake is not very clear to me.

 

The main comparison Rusk makes is not with a suburb compared to its own city, but a similar one compared to another central city, e.g. the Westlake of Cleveland versus the "Westlake" (comparable suburb) of a metro area with a strong, growing central city like Denver, Portland, Seattle, etc.  In comparison, the Westlake of Denver is doing much better in vis a vis the true Westlake in Cleveland.  Incomes are higher, property values are rising faster, etc.  Basically he argues that a weak center drags down the whole.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^I had thought Rusks main' comparison (at least in "Cities without Suburbs") was between metro areas with land-locked center cities and those with center cities expanding through annexation, no?  The main critique of his argument, as I understand it, is that his sample of annexing center cities is heavily biased towards the sun belt, and by most economists' estimation, the sun belt is a growth machine for a number of reasons unrelated to regional political structure.  I can't say I've picked up a Rusk book since the mid 1990s, so I may be very rusty.

 

Anyway, I'm not sure if you can extrapolate Rusk's findings, even if you accepted his causal story, to claim that the decline of one small inner ring suburb is depressing home prices in another further out suburb of the same center city.  He may have other work much more on point though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Strap Hanger...your information about the percentage of renters in East Cleveland in the 60s is new to me and explains much, especially in light of the different integration paths path followed by EC and its neighbors Cleveland Hts and Shaker Hts.  Sounds like that was most likely a very big factor, among many, when explaining the differents results 40 years later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Tom Bier at CSU has said: "To many Americans, moving upward means moving outward."

 

You guys are missing blockbusting in all of this. It's why parts of Cleveland and almost all of East Cleveland went from white to black almost overnight. I will reiterate the situation of my two older brothers (one was born in 1949, the other in 1951). They went to elementary school in East Cleveland. I saw one of my brothers' class picture from one year, where there were a few black kids but everyone else was white. In his next year's class picture, my brother was one of the few white kids and everyone else was black. Only block-busting can cause such a quick turnaround.

 

Most of the blacks were not wealthy, and the whites owned many of the businesses. When the whites moved out, many of them took their businesses and jobs with them. Some who didn't leave were targeted. In the 1960s, black-owned stores had signs in their windows that said "soul brother" so the store wouldn't be targeted. In Hough and Glenville, those signs kept stores from getting ransacked or burned. What a horrible time in our cities' histories. The hatred and/or distrust from both sides is still there, and passed down to younger generations. It keeps prospective employers out of East Cleveland and limits the choices and opportunities for people who stayed behind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Tom Bier at CSU has said: "To many Americans, moving upward means moving outward."

 

You guys are missing blockbusting in all of this. It's why parts of Cleveland and almost all of East Cleveland went from white to black almost overnight. I will reiterate the situation of my two older brothers (one was born in 1949, the other in 1951). They went to elementary school in East Cleveland. I saw one of my brothers' class picture from one year, where there were a few black kids but everyone else was white. In his next year's class picture, my brother was one of the few white kids and everyone else was black. Only block-busting can cause such a quick turnaround.

 

Most of the blacks were not wealthy, and the whites owned many of the businesses. When the whites moved out, many of them took their businesses and jobs with them. Some who didn't leave were targeted. In the 1960s, black-owned stores had signs in their windows that said "soul brother" so the store wouldn't be targeted. In Hough and Glenville, those signs kept stores from getting ransacked or burned. What a horrible time in our cities' histories. The hatred and/or distrust from both sides is still there, and passed down to younger generations. It keeps prospective employers out of East Cleveland and limits the choices and opportunities for people who stayed behind.

 

Thank you for this response, it's exactly what I was looking for because I suspected that the changes in East Cleveland weren't completely a normal case of white flight.  So they suffered from many of the same things that the eastside of Cleveland proper suffered from?  I didn't know that blockbusting played such a big role!  I wonder why places like Euclid, Cleveland Heights, and Shaker Heights were mostly sheltered from such practices?

 

By the way, I read the entire other thread about EC, very interesting stuff.  I'm sorry I started a new thread without doing a search first, but hopefully some new information came up here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live on the last street off of Euclid before East Cleveland and I feel that there is currently an invisible barrier keeping people from living there.  I know that the new mayor is working with UCI to create some new housing or renovate a lot of houses but As long as East Cleveland is its own municipality I don't think they will have much success.  I don't see how it benefits from having its own government.  I don't doubt that EC voters would be ok with being annexed by Cleveland but does Cleveland even want EC.  I feel that EC would get a lot of benefits by gaining the extra muscle that Cleveland has but it would also bring along a lot of poverty that might stretch Cleveland's resources thin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live on the last street off of Euclid before East Cleveland and I feel that there is currently an invisible barrier keeping people from living there. I know that the new mayor is working with UCI to create some new housing or renovate a lot of houses but As long as East Cleveland is its own municipality I don't think they will have much success. I don't see how it benefits from having its own government. I don't doubt that EC voters would be ok with being annexed by Cleveland but does Cleveland even want EC. I feel that EC would get a lot of benefits by gaining the extra muscle that Cleveland has but it would also bring along a lot of poverty that might stretch Cleveland's resources thin.

 

I think a lot of the hope for East Cleveland rests on its very close proximity to University Circle, unfortunately being a separate entity so close to a growing part of Cleveland severely hurts it. There's a lot of prime real estate along Euclid Ave just across from the EC/CLE border, but it will likely never be developed unless it was in Cleveland proper. Why would someone who works in University Circle move to EC and pay an additional 2% of their income in taxes to live in a city that can't provide a lot of basic services?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live on the last street off of Euclid before East Cleveland and I feel that there is currently an invisible barrier keeping people from living there. I know that the new mayor is working with UCI to create some new housing or renovate a lot of houses but As long as East Cleveland is its own municipality I don't think they will have much success. I don't see how it benefits from having its own government. I don't doubt that EC voters would be ok with being annexed by Cleveland but does Cleveland even want EC. I feel that EC would get a lot of benefits by gaining the extra muscle that Cleveland has but it would also bring along a lot of poverty that might stretch Cleveland's resources thin.

 

I think a lot of the hope for East Cleveland rests on its very close proximity to University Circle, unfortunately being a separate entity so close to a growing part of Cleveland severely hurts it. There's a lot of prime real estate along Euclid Ave just across from the EC/CLE border, but it will likely never be developed unless it was in Cleveland proper. Why would someone who works in University Circle move to EC and pay an additional 2% of their income in taxes to live in a city that can't provide a lot of basic services?

 

Indeed.  So sorry, annexation-haters, but there's no alternative here.  The only question is do we want this land redeveloped or not.  If the answer to that is more important than maintaining our hateful borders, we'll see the land developed within our lifetime.  If the urge to separate this neighbor from that one remains strong, then East Cleveland will continue to languish... as will University Circle.  They can never truly be distinct, these two.  So drop the hate.  It's University Circle's only way forward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think East Cleveland should merge with Cleveland, but it would have to be approved by both sides, because it wouldn't be an annexation.  East Cleveland is incorporated (obviously), so it may not be so simple.  And the school district situation is a completely different animal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend just shared this:

 

Having been raised in EC and knowing some of the "players" there, im more afraid for the city's future. It took three recall votes in the span of a year to get the president out. The group has an axe to grind, and no real solutions to restore the city's finances and neighborhoods. Just pure, petty politics. And an unnecessary $30,000 that the city has to pay for this election when it's struggling to pay its bills.

 

Another person on Facebook wrote:

 

I knew Gary Norton through work, when he was an aide to one of the county commissioners. Intelligent, hard-working, efficient, and the opposite of arrogant and overbearing, as sycophants from the commissioners usually are. I have nothing but compassion for Mayor Norton. He can walk away from the most thankless task imaginable with pride.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been aware of Gary Norton when he was completing his urban planning studies while working with the County commissioners.  He seemed an engaged, bright guy who really was interested in moving EC forward for its own sake (as in, he wasn't deep in someone's pocket).  He partnered with UCI about upgrading the buffer areas with University Circle -- and he championed the Circle East town homes at Lakewood & Euclid.  He also moved EC toward merger with Cleveland because it is in the best interest of both cities even though a merger would have cost him his job... Gary Norton was the last best hope for EC.  Stupidity. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of E Cleveland, I thought bankruptcy was imminent, but its still alive and kicking?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×