OLD BROOKLYN, a Cleveland neighborhood and Statistical Planning Area (SPA), is bounded by BROOKSIDE PARK on the north, the CUYAHOGA RIVER on the east, Brookpark Rd. on the south, and Ridge Rd., W. 66th St. and W. 61st St. on the west. Old Brooklyn comprises the former hamlet of Brighton, which was settled in 1814 around the intersection of Broadview and Pearl Rds. and reorganized as the village of South Brooklyn in 1889.
Brighton was laid out on land belonging to a farmer named Warren Young in a section of BROOKLYN TOWNSHIP south of Big Creek Valley. In Mar. 1838 the Ohio legislature passed an act incorporating Brighton Village, but in Feb. 1839 the act was repealed and Brighton returned to Brooklyn Twp. In 1889 the community boasted a population of 1,000 and its petition to incorporate, this time as the village of S. Brooklyn, was granted on 10 June 1889. One key to growth was S. Brooklyn’s role as a market-gardening center. Commercial gardening received a boost when public transportation came to the community's borders in 1869; the Brooklyn St. Railway Co. received a 24-year grant to run down Pearl (now W. 25th) St. from Lorain Rd. south to the Cleveland city limits. The Johnson house at the corner of Broadview and Pearl was the hub of commercial activity—a well-known stopover for farmers headed to Cleveland to sell their produce. Gustave Ruetenik & Sons introduced greenhouse gardening to the area in 1887. A succession of bridges across the valley eased access to the north and S. Brooklyn became one of the first places in the nation to use bituminous macadam when, in 1903, it paved Pearl and State Rds.
S. Brooklyn was annexed to the City of Cleveland in Dec. 1905, followed by 3 adjacent portions of Brooklyn Twp. between 1915 and 1917. In June 1927, when part of the village of Brooklyn Hts. joined the city, Cleveland acquired its present boundaries. The moniker of S. Brooklyn gradually faded and by the end of WORLD WAR II all of western Cleveland south of Big Creek came to be known as the Brooklyn section of the city. In 1976 the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corp. was formed to help spur community redevelopment and revitalization. In recent years, residential and commercial interest has grown and Brooklyn has enjoyed an uptick in new businesses and refurbished homes. The community’s population, relatively stable for decades, was 33,665 in 2019.
Updated by Christopher Roy
Last updated: 8/13/2019
Wilmer, Kathryn Gasior. Old Brooklyn/New Book I (1979).
———. Old Brooklyn/New Book II (1984).