from CSU history department
Since its settlement in 1799 by Oliver and Eliza Hough, the Hough area has occupied a prominent place in Cleveland’s history and redevelopment. Residential development intensified after the area’s incorporation in 1866 and the area was incorporated into the City of Cleveland in 1873.
Between 1880 and 1920 Hough was a prominent place to live in Cleveland. Large elaborate houses were built. Exclusive private schools, including Laurel and University Schools, were opened. In 1890 two electric streetcar routes ran through the community along Euclid and Hough Avenues. As a result of this prominence, Euclid Avenue became known as “Millionaires Row” and Hough became known as “Little Hollywood.” An often overlooked landmark in Hough is League Park at East 66th and Lexington, the home of major league baseball in Cleveland from 1891 to 1946. In its prime, the park had a seating capacity of 27,000.
During the period between the two World Wars, Hough was resettled by a mostly middle-class European ethnic population. Large apartment buildings, as well as modest single and double family frame houses were built in the 1920’s. The area also maintained several small, thriving commercial strips.
Housing deterioration began to take hold in the depression of the 1930’s as owners of Hough’s relatively large houses were forced to defer maintenance and take boarders. Overcrowding and deterioration worsened in the 1950’s as Urban Renewal and freeway construction displaced thousands of lower-income African-American residents from nearby Central. The proportion of African-American residents in Hough climbed from 14% in 1950 to over 75% in 1960.
Frustration over worsening living conditions and increasing joblessness mounted during the 1960s and racial turmoil erupted on the night of July 18, 1966. Hough was the site of one of the most serious outbreaks of civil disorder in the nation’s history. As the flow of residents was reduced to a trickle, the exodus of middle-income residents from Hough resulted in the population plummeting from 76,000 in 1960 to under 20,000 in 1990.
Despite the persistence of poverty and widespread deterioration, the people of Hough together with city officials and private developers have forged partnerships to rebuild the neighborhood and restore its pride. The 1980s and 1990s witnessed signs of rebirth in Hough – the Lexington Village townhouse complex, construction of numerous stately single-family homes and the new Church Square shopping center at East 79th and Euclid.
Updated August, 2011