GLENVILLE is a Cleveland neighborhood and Statistical Planning Area (SPA) on Cleveland's east side. Its oddly configured borders are roughly delineated by Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. on the west, Lake Erie on the north and Wade Park Ave. on the south. Its eastern border was pushed out to East 125th St. and the Norfolk Southern rail tracks when Glenville absorbed the former city neighborhood of Forest Hills in the mid 2010s. Along the lake, GORDON PARK and the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve are considered part of Glenville, as is Forest Hills Park—a northern extension of EAST CLEVELAND's Pattison Park that is not affiliated or connected with the FOREST HILL PARK jointly administered by the suburbs of CLEVELAND HEIGHTS and E. Cleveland.
Incorporated as a village on 4 Oct. 1870, Glenville was formally annexed to the City of Cleveland on 19 June 1905. Shady vales bisected by streams gave the area its picturesque name. New England farmers were the first to settle there, followed by immigrants from SCOTLAND, IRELAND and ENGLAND. GERMAN Americans launched truck farms in the area, with produce hauled to the city from the Glenville village center at St. Clair Ave. and Doan (E. 105th) St.
When it opened in 1870 GLENVILLE RACE TRACK at St. Clair Ave. and E. 88th St. helped make Glenville a major horseracing center. The facility also hosted auto, bicycle and foot races. By the 1890s Glenville's lakeshore location was a fashionable destination and upscale summer residence. The 122-acre lakefront estate of WILLIAM J. GORDON, co-founder of the Cleveland Iron Mining Company, formed Glenville’s northwestern border and became a City-owned property (Gordon Park) upon his death in 1892. The village attracted further attention on 14 July 1895 with the opening of the Cleveland Golf Club on Coit Rd. (see GOLF). In the 1960s an upgrade of the MEMORIAL SHOREWAY split Gordon Park in half—separating its lakefront areas from those further inland. The CLEVELAND AQUARIUM operated in what became the inland section of Gordon Park between 1954 and 1986, after which its exhibits were transferred to CLEVELAND METROPARKS ZOO.
By 1930 much of Glenville's population was of Jewish extraction (see JEWS & JUDAISM). AFRICAN AMERICANS accounted for about eight percent of the neighborhood's residents. In the mid 1950s the neighborhood's Jewish population began to relocate en masse from Glenville to suburbs further east and, by the 1960s, the neighborhood had become (and continues to be) mostly African American. On 23 July 1968 riots erupted, causing widespread neighborhood arson and looting (see GLENVILLE SHOOT-OUT).
The Forest Hills neighborhood that is now part of Glenville has a smaller footprint and population than the original Glenville. Home to a variety of warehouses and manufactories, the former Forest Hills’ northern end is largely industrial. The Forest Hills segment also is home to the Glenville branch of the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY. In myriad reference materials, the area continues to be confused with the Forest Hill (no “s”) section of E. Cleveland and Cleveland Hts.—exacerbated, no doubt, by the fact that the misnamed Forest Hills (with an “s”) Blvd. runs through both suburbs.
To promote housing and commercial revitalization in the community, the Glenville Development Corp. was organized in 1978. It closed in 2015 and many of its activities are now overseen by the Famicos Foundation. Despite many challenges, Glenville is slowly being rediscovered, with growing interest in, and patronage of, the Glenville Arts Campus, ROCKEFELLER PARK, the CLEVELAND CULTURAL GARDENS and the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse. The neighborhood also has gained recognition as the birthplace of SUPERMAN. At his home on Glenville’s Kimberly Ave. in 1932, 18-year old Jerry Siegel created the Man of Steel. In the early 21st century, Glenville’s high school sports successes brought national attention to the neighborhood. Roughly 25,000 people call Glenville (including the former Forest Hills neighborhood) home.
Updated by Christopher Roy