EDGEWATER NEIGHBORHOOD

EDGEWATER is a neighborhood and Statistical Planning Area (SPA) on Cleveland’s west side. Edgewater is bounded by Lake Erie on the north, W. 85th St on the east, the CSX railroad tracks on the south, and W. 117th St. on the west.

Originally part of BROOKLYN TOWNSHIP in the Connecticut WESTERN RESERVE, the Edgewater area was mostly farmland and country estates throughout the 19th Century. Then known as West Cleveland, the village counted among its residents Eliza and Simeon Jennings, who owned a large estate on what is now Detroit Ave. There they built and operated the CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY (1857) to care for and educate poor children and the ELIZA JENNINGS HOME (1888) to house the elderly.

West Cleveland became somewhat more suburban in the late 19th Century, with single-family homes emerging along side streets between Lake Rd. and Detroit Ave. The village was annexed to the city of Cleveland in 1894. Around that time, Jennings' land and other farm properties began to be divided into 5-10-acre residential estates. Wealthy residents such as clothier Julius Feiss (JOSEPH & FEISS) and politician and businessman MARCUS A. HANNA built homes near the Lake Erie shore.

Between 1900 and 1920, apartment buildings and smaller homes began to appear farther away from the lake, near various industries.  Several manufactories already were in operation by this time, including the William White J. & Son (see WM. J. WHITE) chewing gum company (1888) at 10307 Detroit Ave., which made Yucatan and Red Robin brand gums. In 1990 White merged with the Beeman Chemical Co. (see Edwin E. Beeman) to form the AMERICAN CHICLE CO.) Also created in the late 19th Century was EDGEWATER PARK, most of which was land purchased in 1894 from Jacob Perkins. Construction of the MEMORIAL SHOREWAY in 1938 significantly reduced the acreage of the park. In 1978 the Ohio Department of Natural Resources leased the land from the City of Cleveland. The CLEVELAND METROPARKS took ownership in 2013, incorporating it into its Lakefront Reservation. Upgrades and a new beach house were completed in 2017.

In addition to grand lakefront estates, the Edgewater neighborhood became home to several notable structures, neither of which has survived: The Fifth Church of Christ Scientist, a unique octagonal church designed by Frank W. Bail and built in 1926 at W. 117th St. and Lake Rd., served CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS until the congregation vacated in 1989. The building was donated to the city of Cleveland with hopes of preservation but after sitting dormant for years, and with few funds available for restoration, it was razed in 2016 to make way for a mixed-use development. In 1927 the Spanish-style Granada Theater was built at 11621 Detroit Rd. The motion picture house designed by Preston G. Bradshaw and operated by Loew's Ohio Theaters, Inc., boasted 2,500 seats. It closed in 1969 and was demolished to accommodate a gas station and, later, a restaurant.

As of 2020 Edgewater’s population was 5,850  (70 percent white, 21 percent AFRICAN-AMERICAN)­ down from 11,100 in 1950 and 8,570 in 2000.  More than half the neighborhood’s housing units are single-owner households and nearly two-thirds of the area’s units are renter-occupied—most along Lake Rd. immediately west of Edgewater Park. Median household income in Edgewater is roughly 30% higher than the city-wide average; poverty and unemployment rates are lower. The Edgewater neighborhood is served by two community development corporations: Cudell Improvement, Inc. and Westown Community Development Corp.

April Miller

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