SOUTH EUCLID, originally a part of EUCLID TWP., was incorporated as a village in 1917 and as a city in June 1941. It occupies 4.7 sq. mi., bounded by CLEVELAND HEIGHTS on the west, LYNDHURST on the east, RICHMOND HEIGHTS on the north, and UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS on the south.
During the 19th century, farming was the predominant occupation, with a scattering of small businesses that served the farming community (see AGRICULTURE). In 1867 Duncan McFarland opened a stone quarry along Euclid Creek, providing the area with its first and best-known INDUSTRY. Access to the region was improved by the construction of a plank toll road along Mayfield Rd. in 1877 and an interurban railroad in 1899 (see INTERURBANS).
The village grew slowly until the installation of utilities after WORLD WAR I; the population grew from 1,605 in 1920 to 6,146 by 1940. As a city, South Euclid adopted a mayor-council form of government. Mirroring a pattern found in other “Hillcrest” suburbs, which were named for the area’s Hillcrest telephone exchange, major growth occurred after WORLD WAR II; the population nearly quintupled to 29,579 by 1970. Many of those who moved to South Euclid and other Hillcrest suburbs along Mayfield Rd. after the war were ITALIANS and Jews (see JEWS & JUDAISM). Beginning in the 1960s, advocates of fair housing for AFRICAN AMERICANS worked to achieve racial integration of the Hillcrest area. A succession of organizations including Fair Housing, Inc., Operation Equality, Suburban Citizens for Open Housing, the Cuyahoga Plan, Hillcrest Neighbors, and Eastern Suburban Council for Open Housing achieved limited results in integrating the Hillcrest suburbs between the 1960s and 1980s. (See FAIR HOUSING PROGRAMS.) Only in the 1980s did South Euclid see an appreciable level of integration, rising from 2% to 9% black.
Like Cuyahoga County, whose population peaked in 1970, South Euclid experienced population loss after that year. It declined to 23,866 in 1990 and to an estimated 21,473 in 2018. As late as 2000, Italians and Jews constituted 68% of the population. However, a 2011 study estimated that the Jewish population in a 5-city “Northern Heights” sub-area that included South Euclid dropped by 39 percent since 1996. While the city’s Jewish population diminished, its proportion of African Americans grew rapidly from 21% in 2000 to 42% in 2010. In response to the national real estate collapse of 2008, One South Euclid (2009) formed as the region’s second suburban community development corporation, 5 years after Lakewood Alive in LAKEWOOD. One South Euclid used a federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) grant to start the Green Neighborhoods Initiative, which combined housing rehabilitation, environmentally sustainable new home construction, and demolition and conversion of some homesites into community gardens and pocket parks. The city also attempted to foster acceptance of its growing social diversity through the “Come Together and Thrive” slogan (2012) and passage of an LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance (2018).
Although South Euclid remained largely residential in the postwar decades, it also experienced commercial and industrial expansion. Some light manufacturing firms located near Green and Monticello Rds. Shopping districts developed at the intersections of Cedar and Warrensville Center and Green and Mayfield Rds. In more recent years, both districts underwent varying degrees of redevelopment in the 2000s-10s. The city government bought the northern side of Cedar Center, a shopping center located on both sides of Cedar Rd. to the west of Warrensville Center, and sold it to a developer who completely rebuilt it as a combination of strip center and freestanding businesses. The retail district around Green and Mayfield was partially redeveloped. A more controversial change was the city’s decision to accept the redevelopment of much of the property long owned by the OAKWOOD CLUB (which merged with the Mayfield Sand Ridge Club in Lyndhurst in 2010) into Oakwood Commons, anchored by Walmart, which moved less than a mile from its previous location in SEVERANCE TOWN CENTER in Cleveland Hts. In an effort to placate critics, the new shopping center incorporated “sustainable design” and a 21-acre portion of the former golf course became a “passive park” named Oakwood Green.
A branch of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM operated in the old William Telling mansion, next to the SOUTH EUCLID HISTORICAL SOCIETY. From 1950 to 2015, when it reopened in a new facility following a lengthy controversy. The library system sold the Telling Mansion to Richard Barone, a private collector, who opened the Museum of American Porcelain Art in the house in 2019. The city’s school system is combined with that of Lyndhurst. NOTRE DAME COLLEGE and University Suburban Health Center are in South Euclid, as are a variety of parochial schools, churches, and synagogues. Recreational facilities in 2019 included a portion of the Euclid Creek Reservation of the CLEVELAND METROPARKS SYSTEM, 5 parks, 2 swimming pools, a splash pad, baseball and softball diamonds, fitness trails, bicycle pump track, picnic areas, dog park, and tennis courts. Hillcrest Concert Band formed in 1955 as a year-round community band that grew out of a seasonal group formed under the aegis of the South Euclid-Lyndhirst Recreation Commission in the late 1940s and has performed throughout the region and worldwide.
Updated by Mark Souther
Keating, W. Dennis. The Suburban Racial Dilemma: Housing and Neighborhoods. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994.
South Euclid, Golden Jubilee Book Committee, Golden Jubilee, 1917-1967, South Euclid (1967).