CLARK-FULTON

CLARK-FULTON is a Cleveland neighborhood and Statistical Planning Area (SPA) on the city’s near-west side. It is bounded by Clark Ave. on the north, Scranton Rd. on the east, Daisy Ave. and I-71 on the south, and W. 48th and W. 49th Sts. on the west. It lies generally south of OHIO CITY, north of BROOKLYN CENTRE, west of TREMONT, and east of STOCKYARDS.

With around 11,000 residents in 2019, Clark-Fulton is an average-sized Cleveland neighborhood. However, it is geographically small (roughly one square mile) and is Cleveland’s most densely populated community. Clark-Fulton also has the highest concentration of HISPANICS in Cleveland. A majority of the neighborhood’s Hispanic residents are of Puerto Rican descent. Puerto Ricans began moving to Clark-Fulton in the 1960s—relocating both from their Caribbean homeland and from Cleveland’s HOUGH and Lexington neighborhoods. Beginning in the 1980s many more arrived, some moving south from fast-gentrifying Ohio City and others fleeing the devastation of tropical hurricanes. Since 1980 Clark-Fulton’s Hispanic population has nearly tripled. On the cusp of 2020, whites comprise about one third of the neighborhood’s population and AFRICAN AMERICANS less than a quarter. Clark-Fulton is one of the city’s poorer communities, with below-average levels of educational achievement and median household income ($22,900 compared to about $25,300 for Cleveland as a whole).

Like much of Cleveland’s west side, Clark-Fulton was once part of BROOKLYN TOWNSHIP—one of many townships formed as part of the Connecticut WESTERN RESERVE in the early 1800s. Throughout the 19th Century, various parts of Brooklyn Twp. became self-governing municipalities while others, like Clark-Fulton, were annexed by (i.e., became neighborhoods within) the city of Cleveland. Clark-Fulton was annexed to the city of Cleveland in the late 1800s. Its first immigrants were Germans, followed by SLOVAKS, CZECHS, POLES, and ITALIANS, many of whom worked in breweries along Train Ave. and manufactories in The FLATS. The first Italian parish on the Cleveland’s west side was St. Rocco's Parish on Fulton Rd. The current St. Rocco’s was built in 1952 but the Parish and earlier church buildings date to around 1914.

By the late 19th century, one- and two-family homes were abundant in Clark-Fulton. Commercial construction followed, initially in the area of Clark Ave. and W. 25th St. A prime example was the Aragon Ballroom, one of Cleveland’s most popular night clubs, featuring entertainers such as Glenn Miller, Dean Martin, the Dorsey brothers and the Andrews Sisters. The building was built as a skating rink in 1905. After a devastating fire in 1929, it was rebuilt as a ballroom and remained open until 1989.

In the 1960s, construction of I-71 and I-90 didn’t carve up Clark-Fulton, but nonetheless isolated it on the north, south and east sides. Stunted access to surrounding communities suppressed new construction and accelerated attrition. Clark-Fulton’s population fell from 21,700 in 1940 to 16,900 in 1970 to 13,400 in 2000.

In recent years, a variety of developments sparked a potential rebirth of the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. Principal among these is a $1 billion plan to reinvent the MetroHealth Medical Center, which skirts Clark-Fulton’s eastern border. The hospital traces its history to the early 1800s when it was the Brooklyn Township poor farm. The first healthcare facility on the property—City Hospital—was constructed in 1851. New housing, such as Milford Place on the site of the former Milford School, has been erected. Other ongoing highlights include revitalization of the West 25th St. and Scranton Rd. corridors, and development of La Villa Hispana—a cultural and social center at West 25th St. and Clark Ave. In 2019 a federal program called FHAct50 awarded millions of dollars to Cleveland, which designated Clark-Fulton the sole beneficiary of those funds. Up to $30 million in affordable housing investments was expected to result.

Christopher Roy

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