WEST PARK

WEST PARK, is a section of Cleveland’s west side that comprises four distinct neighborhoods (Statistical Planning Areas) as delineated by the Cleveland Planning Commission: RIVERSIDE, JEFFERSON, KAMM'S CORNERS (referred to infrequently as Warren-Munn) and BELLAIRE-PURITAS (formerly known as Puritas-Longmede). West Park occupies a 12.5 sq. mi. area (the sum of the four neighborhoods) bounded by W. 117th St. on the east, the Rocky River Valley on the west, the suburb of LAKEWOOD on the north and Brookpark Rd. on the south. CLEVELAND-HOPKINS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, which is south of Brookpark Rd., is part of the Riverside neighborhood.

Part of ROCKPORT TWP. until 1900, West Park was named for John West, an early settler. During the mid-19th century, the area consisted mostly of undeveloped land, isolated homes and rutted wagon paths. Lorain Ave., the only major thoroughfare, was a wooden plank toll road that ran past the Sherman House and the Old Lorain St. House—both rest stops for travelers. Before 1900 the area's only public transportation was a horse-drawn omnibus operating between Wellington Ave. (now called W. 98th St.) and Kamm's Corners (now the intersection of Lorain Rd. and Rocky River Drive) where, around 1875, Oswald Kamm had opened a grocery store and later a post office. The population of the Kamm’s Corners neighborhood— a predominantly white area with a significant Irish Catholic population—is now about 20,000. The section of West Park now known as Jefferson remained largely rural until the late 1920s and is more lightly populated. What became the Riverside neighborhood also was largely unsettled until the 20th Century. Its first development milestone was the completion of Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport in 1925. Today, Riverside (excluding the airport) contains only about 50 streets and roughly 80% of its land is taken up by Hopkins Airport. The fourth neighborhood, Bellaire-Puritas, is one of Cleveland’s most manufacturing-intensive areas, due largely to the presence of several industrial parks, adjacency to I-71 and I-480, and access to the Norfolk-Southern and CSX rail lines (see RAILROADS).

In 1900 the county approved the formation of West Park Twp. With unimproved roads covered by snow in the winter and lost in a sea of mud in the spring, it often was referred to as the "lost city." Development in the early 20th Century was spurred by a CLEVELAND & SOUTHWESTERN Interurban connection with the WOODLAND AVE. & WEST SIDE RAILWAY. By 1931 the CLEVELAND RAILWAY CO. had extended the line to Hopkins Airport and on 15 Nov. 1968, Cleveland became the first major American city to offer direct transit service to the airport.

Elections on annexation were held in West Park and Cleveland in 1922. Annexation was approved and, on 1 Jan. 1923, West Park became the last large suburb to merge with Cleveland.

Updated by Christopher Roy

 


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