OHIO CITY (CITY OF OHIO) was founded in 1818. Originally part of Brooklyn Twp., it is one of Cleveland's oldest neighborhoods. Its historic borders were Lake Erie on the north, the CUYAHOGA RIVER on the east, Walworth Ave. and W. 44th St. on the south, and W. 65th St. on the west. Ohio City now has a different footprint, reaching W. 50th St. on the west and Interstate 90 on the south.
On 3 Mar. 1836, 2 days before Cleveland's incorporation, the City of Ohio became an independent municipality. It remained so until 5 June 1854, when it was annexed to Cleveland. During this 18-year interregnum Cleveland had roughly three times as many citizens; however, the two cities became fierce competitors, especially in the area of commerce. This rivalry peaked in 1837 when Ohio City residents sought to stop the use of Cleveland's new COLUMBUS ST. BRIDGE, which was siphoning off commercial traffic to Cleveland before it could reach Ohio City's mercantile district. In what ultimately became known as the Ohio City Bridge Wars, violence broke out on several occasions.
Ohio City’s population grew from approximately 2,400 in the 1830s to 4,253 in 1850. Its mayors included JOSIAH BARBER, NORMAN C. BALDWIN, RICHARD LORD, THOS. BURNHAM, and WM. B. CASTLE. Upon annexation, Ohio City became wards 8, 9, 10, and 11 of Cleveland.
After annexation, Ohio City was known as the Near West Side. A number of ethnic groups, including GERMANS, HUNGARIANS and IRISH, lived in the area in the late 19th century. Perhaps the area’s most prominent focal point became the WEST SIDE MARKET, completed in 1912 on the site that Josiah Barber and Richard Lord deeded to the city on the condition that it remain a marketplace. Following WORLD WAR II, Ohio City entered a period of decline. In 1968 the Ohio City Redevelopment Assn. was chartered to stem the tide of neglect and strengthen a nascent trend of restoration that had begun in the early 1960s. From 1963-78, more than 100 structures were restored or redeveloped, including ST. IGNATIUS HIGH SCHOOL, the Carnegie Branch of the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY (an original “Carnegie Library”), and numerous private residences. As older structures—most dating to the mid/late 19th Century—were refurbished and occupied by upper-middle-class individuals and families, the resultant displacement of poorer groups led to charges of gentrification. By this time Ohio City was home to at least 15 ethnic groups representing 25,000 people in a 4.5 sq. mi. area. Among the newer immigrant and migrant groups were HISPANIC Americans and Asian Americans.
Ohio City Development Corp. (now Ohio City Inc.)—a City of Cleveland Community Development Corporation (CDC)—succeeded earlier redevelopment groups in 1992 and spearheaded much additional revitalization, including new townhouses, a supermarket, and strip mall at W. 25th St. and Lorain Ave. Today, Ohio City is often regarded as the west side’s figurative epicenter of semi-urban redevelopment. Residential revitalization has remained strong, the pub scene along West 25th St. is vibrant, and several multifamily structures —including a massive complex at West 25th St. and Detroit Ave. (“The Quarter”)—have risen. Redevelopment of the aforementioned intersection—recently branded “Hingetown”—had lagged well behind the rest of Ohio City. However, that is changing quickly, spurred most notably by the Towpath Trail and Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail, as well as a massive effort by Cleveland Metroparks to create a park on the site of IRISHTOWN BEND. With a current population of about 9,500, Ohio City is one of Cleveland’s most diverse communities: 50% White, 34% AFRICAN AMERICAN, and 23% Hispanic. As of 2019 it was also one of only three Cleveland neighborhoods to gain population in recent years.
Updated by Christopher Roy
Last updated: 4/26/2019
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Wheeler, Robert A. Pleasantly Situated on the West Side (1980).