BROOKLYN CENTRE

BROOKLYN CENTRE is a Cleveland neighborhood and Statistical Planning Area (SPA). It is bounded on the north by Daisy and Poe Aves., on the south by Big Creek, on the west by W. 44th St. (called Gauge St. before 1906) and on the east by the Jennings Freeway (St. Rt. 176).

Originally part of BROOKLYN TOWNSHIP—the first non-aboriginal governmental structure west of the CUYAHOGA RIVER—Brooklyn Centre and OLD BROOKLYN (its neighbor to the south) are the only Cleveland SPAs with Brooklyn in their names. BROOKLYN and BROOKLYN HTS. (to the southwest and southeast, respectively, are Cleveland-area suburbs.

Brooklyn Centre was laid out and named by Moses Fish in 1830. Arriving from Groton CT in 1812, Fish and his cousins James and Ebenezer Fish (all representing the CONNECTICUT LAND COMPANY) were among the first permanent white settlers in what became Brooklyn Township. The name Brooklyn Center disappeared temporarily when, on 5 Aug 1867, a large swathe of BROOKLYN TOWNSHIP was incorporated as Brooklyn Village and Bethuel Fish, a nephew of Moses Fish, was elected mayor. Brooklyn Village grew in population and wealth from year to year, with frequent conflicts over proposed annexations to the City of Cleveland. The disagreements ended in 1894 when the north end of Brooklyn Village became part of Cleveland’s 39th Ward and was formally labelled Brooklyn Centre.

Early Brooklyn Centre was concentrated around the intersection of what are now Broadview Rd. and West 25th St. (then Pearl St.). Farmers located there because it was accessible to downtown and to the Central Market. When the streetcar line was extended along Pearl St. in 1869, businesses opened around the intersection of Pearl and Denison, near where the Fish family had originally settled. In the early 20th Century, numerous POLES settled in Brooklyn Centre—closed to the mills, factories and tanneries in Cleveland’s FLATS where they were employed. To this day, the eastern portion of Brooklyn Centre is often referred to as Barbarowa, the neighborhood surrounding St. Barbara Church on Denison Avenue just west of the Jennings Freeway. In the early 1960s the neighborhood was lacerated by the construction of I-71. Numerous streets were lost and new cul-de-sacs and dead ends were created.

About 9,000 people currently live in Brooklyn Centre. Caucasian residents make up slightly more than half the population, with the remainder split somewhat evenly between AFRICAN AMERICANS and HISPANICS. The neighborhood’s median income (~ $28,000 per year) is slightly above the average for all of Cleveland. Brooklyn Centre was formally recognized as a Historic District on May 7, 1984. A variety of stately homes and iconic churches are testament to the area’s rich history and diversity.

Christopher Roy

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