BELGIANS. Belgians form one of Cleveland's smallest immigrant groups. As of 1970, only 124 foreign-born Belgians resided in the city. Belgian immigration to Cleveland began in the 1870s. The 1880 census listed 75 Belgians in the city. The pre-World War I peak was reached in 1910, at 90. As a small country that never had a large transoceanic emigration in the late 19th century, Belgium's representation in Cleveland reflected relative levels in other American cities. Immigration did increase after the catastrophic effects of World War I in the homeland. By 1930 Cleveland's Belgian population had risen to 130. Displacement caused by World War II had a similar effect, and the city's Belgian population peaked at 298 in 1960. Many of the post-World War II immigrants were war brides or young professionals attracted by the city's technical and medical facilities. As a small community, and one that rapidly assimilated into American life, local Belgians founded no major or long-lasting organizations. However, the city has had an Honorary Belgian Consulate since 1923. Its presence reflects, to a degree, the trade relations between Belgium and Cleveland and, moreover, the city's sympathy with that country, which grew out of the disastrous events of World War I.
Ivan L. Miller