The COLLINWOOD neighborhood of Cleveland is located about 7 miles northeast of PUBLIC SQUARE. Originally part of E. Cleveland Twp., and initially called COLLAMER, Collinwood was a village separate from Cleveland until 1910. By 1860 an omnibus line operated between Cleveland and Collamer via St. Clair Ave. The main axis of the village was Collamer (E. 152nd) St. By 1890 Collinwood was a major switching point of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (later New York Central and now CSX) Railroad as well as the site of vast rail freight yards. The COLLINWOOD RAILROAD YARDS eventually included more than 120 miles of track and extensive repair shops, providing the basis for the area's early growth. In the late 1800s Collinwood also was the site of several lakefront vineyards. Disaster struck the Collinwood community on 4 Mar. 1908 when the COLLINWOOD SCHOOL FIRE claimed 174 lives. Collinwood was annexed to Cleveland on 21 Jan. 1910 and portions of the village of Nottingham were absorbed by Collinwood in 1912. The neighborhood became home to large IRISH, ITALIAN, and SLOVENIAN populations. FIVE POINTS—the intersection of E. 152nd St. and St. Clair and Ivanhoe Avenues—was the commercial hub of the neighborhood. Collinwood also was home to EUCLID BEACH PARK, which opened in 1894 and closed in 1969.
During World War II, Collinwood was one of the most concentrated industrial areas in the world. Within its boundaries, in addition to the New York Central yards, were FISHER BODY, Thompson Prods. (see TRW), GENERAL ELECTRIC, LINCOLN ELECTRIC, Eaton Axle (see EATON CORP.), Natl. Acme (see ACME-CLEVELAND), Bailey Meter (see BABCOCK & WILCOX), and a dozen other firms. During the 1950s Collinwood saw a marked increase in social problems, including rising delinquency and crime rates as well as racial turbulence in the 1960s and 1970s as AFRICAN AMERICANS moved into the formerly white neighborhood. Collinwood was further buffeted by the departure of such industries as Fisher Body and Eaton and the closing of the Collinwood shops by CONRAIL in 1981. In the face of such reverses (including steep population losses), organizations such as the Collinwood Village Development Corp. (est. 1987) and, more recently, the Greater Collinwood Development Corp., have been working to encourage economic development and upgrade the neighborhood's residential and commercial properties.
Since the late 1990s, Collinwood has experienced some revitalization—most observably in its arts district along Waterloo Road. Arts Collinwood was formed in 2003 and within the next few years eleven new arts-related businesses opened in the neighborhood. Collinwood subsequently has gained national and international recognition for its arts-centered rehabilitation efforts. It was identified as one of America's Best Secret Neighborhoods by Travel + Leisure in 2008 and in 2009 The Wall Street Journal featured the neighborhood in a story about using the arts to fight blight.
For statistical planning purposes, Collinwood is often subdivided into North Collinwood and South Collinwood, the dividing line being the rail yards. Population in each segment has declined similarly for many decades: North Collinwood 27,590 in 1940, 20,693 in 1980 and 16,700 currently; South Collinwood 28,438 in 1940, 18,038 in 1980 and 10,500 currently. African Americans comprise the majority population in both areas, although their concentration is far greater in South Collinwood. Throughout the neighborhood, unemployment is significantly above the national average and roughly a third of Collinwood residents live below the poverty line
Updated by Christopher Roy