NORTH BROADWAY is a southeast Cleveland neighborhood and Statistical Planning Area (SPA). Previously (and still periodically) referred to as Kinsman, its borders are, roughly, I-77 on the west, Union Ave. on the south, E. 79th St. on the east and an irregular line on the north that runs south of, but parallel to, Kinsman Ave. Reflecting their ethnic roots, North Broadway and its SPA neighbor SOUTH BROADWAY are often referred to collectively as Slavic Village—a name that did not emerge until the 1970s when the first significant attempt was made to reverse decades of deterioration and residential outflow.

Originally part of NEWBURGH Township (org. 1814), both neighborhoods (North and South Broadway) have commerce in their DNA. Construction of the OHIO AND ERIE CANAL spurred the area’s early growth as did the construction of Broadway Ave., which was the first coach road connecting Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Accordingly, the byway originally was called Pittsburgh St. and later the Newburgh Road. After a significant widening in 1834 it was redubbed Broadway. By the mid 19th century, steel mills and other manufactories were blooming in the industrial valley east of what is now I-77 (see WILLOW FREEWAY). The CLEVELAND ROLLING MILL CO.., progenitor of U.S. STEEL CORP., dates to 1857 and was a major producer of iron rails and wire. Beginning in 1873 the BROADWAY & NEWBURGH STREET RAILROAD CO.— running from Woodland Ave. through the North Broadway neighborhood near E. 55th St (then known as Willson St.)—offered transportation for workers in the steel mills. Residential and commercial growth followed in the immediate vicinity as well as along Fleet Avenue in what is now the South Broadway neighborhood. CZECHS and POLES came to dominate both communities by the late 19th century, whereas earlier neighborhood populations had been Welsh, English, Scottish (see BRITISH IMMIGRATION) and IRISH. Myriad working-class wood-frame homes were built during this time, and those structures (in widely varying states of repair) still compose much of the area’s viewscape. Today North Broadway has a particularly diverse population of Eastern Europeans, AFRICAN-AMERICANs, Puerto Ricans (see HISPANIC COMMUNITY) and Appalachians .

The entire Broadway area flourished well into the 20th century, but a long period of neighborhood decline began after WWII. Between 1950 and 1980 many FLATS-based manufactories closed and thousands of residents fled to the suburbs.

Revitalization efforts began in the late 1970s with the formation of Neighborhood Ventures, Inc., in Oct. 1977 by Teddy and Donna Sliwinski and architect Kaszimier Wieclaw. Choosing the name Slavic Village (which largely reflected a Czech community "Karlin" at the western end of Fleet Avenue and the Polish "Warszawa" at the eastern end) to attract other ethnic groups, they began transforming many of the deteriorated buildings along Fleet Ave. into a uniform Polish "Hylander" style. Slavic Village Development—the area’s community development corporation (CDC)—was formed in 1990 and has since channeled more than $100 million into projects in North and South Broadway, including housing projects and low-income multi-family buildings. The annual Slavic Village Harvest Festival (recently renamed the Village Feast) has operated continuously since the 1970s, drawing numerous visitors each year.

Still, daunting challenges remain throughout the North and South Broadway neighborhoods. During the Great Recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s, ZIP code 44105 (which comprises most of the North and South Broadway neighborhoods) recorded more home foreclosures than any other area in the country, thus marking the area as “ground zero of the foreclosure crisis” and garnering notice in the international press.  Crime and resident attrition increased accordingly, with the combined population of North and South Broadway falling to less than 20,000 from a high of about 60,000 in 1950. Geographically, North Broadway is far smaller than South Broadway and the former’s population (approx. 5,600) is less than half that of its neighbor. Average educational attainment levels and median household income of both neighborhoods trail the city of Cleveland as a whole and North Broadway lags South Broadway in both categories. Barely 15% of the area’s citizens are still involved in the manufacturing trades.

Christopher Roy

Last updated: 4/13/2020


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