HOUGH is a 2 sq. mi. neighborhood and Cleveland Statistical Planning Area bounded by Euclid and Superior Avenues and E. 55th and E. 105th Streets. Originally part of E. Cleveland Twp., it takes its name from one of the area’s major streets, Hough Ave., dedicated in 1873 and named for early landowners Oliver and Eliza Hough. Following Hough’s annexation to Cleveland in 1872 it became a fashionable residential neighborhood characterized by platted subdivisions of large single-family houses. One of the Cleveland area’s most prestigious private academies—UNIVERSITY SCHOOL—was built in Hough in 1890, where it remained until 1926.
Hough was a predominantly white middle-class neighborhood until the 1950s. By 1960 it had undergone a dramatic reversal: from 5% non-white in 1950 to 74% non-white in 1960. But well before this transition Hough already was feeling the effects of overcrowding, aging housing stock, and a decline in the percentage of owner-occupied dwellings. Close to the predominantly black Central neighborhood, Hough became a relocation target when the city's urban-renewal programs displaced many AFRICAN AMERICANS in the mid-1950s. Accelerating the shift, realty companies fostered panic selling among white homeowners and government-sanctioned redlining practices drastically narrowed blacks’ housing choices and frequently displaced disadvantaged mortgage holders. Absentee landlords converted many of Hough’s single-family dwellings into rooming houses and tenements. In 1956 the neighborhood was an uneasy mix of long-time residents, whites who had recently migrated from Appalachia and blacks who had moved into Hough. In a series of articles in Feb. 1965 the Cleveland Press reported that Hough was “in crisis." Racial violence erupted on the night of 18 July 1966, marking the start of the devastating HOUGH RIOTS. Over five days, four African Americans were killed, 50 people were injured, and scores of structures were destroyed. By 1980, the neighborhood’s population had declined to 25,330—down from 65,694 in 1950.
By the 1970s, however, Hough had begun to experience modest improvements. Development of commercial and public structures slowly picked up, often spearheaded by Councilman FANNIE LEWIS and the HOUGH AREA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (HADC), one of the nation’s first community development corporations. New housing (Lexington Village, Beacon Place, Renaissance Village) went in. A shopping center, CHURCH SQUARE, opened in 1993 and a Dave’s Supermarket came to the neighborhood in 2019. Novel land reuse/readaption strategies also have been instituted, such as Chateau Hough, an urban vineyard, and LEAGUE PARK, home of the CLEVELAND INDIANS from 1901 to 1946, which was restored in 2014.
Hough’s population has continued to drop (12,594 in 2012) but the neighborhood’s attractiveness has grown significantly since the bad old days of the 1960s and 1970s. Some of this is due to the neighborhood’s increasingly desirable proximity to the CLEVELAND CLINIC, UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, and a revitalized downtown. About 55 percent (as of 2019) of Hough families live below the poverty line—roughly the same as many east side neighborhoods but significantly less than more-depressed areas such as Goodrich-Kirtland Park and Kinsman.
Updated by Christopher Roy