CWRU Links

BIRD'S NEST

The BIRD'S NEST (or Birdtown) is an area of LAKEWOOD settled in 1892 when the Natl. Carbon Co. (Union Carbide) laid out 8 narrow streets of 424 lots for factory housing. Populated by East European immigrants, the tiny community remains an ethnic enclave that still (1994) has a large Slovak population descended from the original settlers. Bordered by Madison on the north, W. 117th on the east, the rapid-transit tracks on the south, and Madison Park on the west, the Bird's Nest acquired its name from its streets named for birds: Thrush, Lark, Robin, Quail, and Plover. To accommodate the labor needs of Natl. Carbon and other neighborhood businesses, foremen, often Slovak, hired friends and relatives. By 1910 SLOVAKS constituted 70% of the population. Immigrants, who walked to work, sought housing in cold-water flats 2 and 3 stories high. Double houses accommodated several families, and single-family lots often had a house at the front of the lot and one at the back that the owner would rent out to other immigrants. Much of the housing, built by the settlers and their friends, features architecture unique to Lakewood. The community was solidified by churches and shops, which remained a magnet for former residents who moved out of Birdtown.


Borchert, Jim and Susan. Lakewood: The First Hundred Years (1989).