How Did We Get Here? A History of Hough

I am not great at trivia, but am fascinated by local history that you can see, feel, and smell every day. Learning the history of Hough helped me appreciate how the community has pulled itself up by its own bootstraps. It also taught me: never be a slumlord.

8000 BCE. Humans and mammoths co-exist in Northeast Ohio until we hunt them into extinction.  Hough probably not settled due to bugs.

1200 AD. Native peoples begin settling into villages in river valleys.

1500 AD. Mound builders start to disappear.

1600s. Iroquois take over Ohio in a bloody war with various tribes.

1700s. Iroquois move east to fight the French and English. Wyandot move into region (most artifacts near Sandusky). They were known for their “rough hair”  (read: mohawks—my husband is a descendant.)

1799. Doan family builds tavern at E. 107th & Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland township.

1854. Area settled as a farm by Oliver and Eliza Hough.

1860s. Oliver and Eliza die, and their land is divided into parcels.

1872. Hough incorporated into Cleveland, which doubled in size in 10 years.  Millionaire’s Row built on Euclid Avenue.

1890s. Two electric streetcars run down Hough & Euclid Avenues.  League Park built at E. 66th and Lexington as home of the Cleveland Spiders (now the Cleveland Indians).

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League Park Railway Car at E 68th St and Lexington Ave

Many of Cleveland’s landmark organizations were founded in this decade. Eliza Bryant built the first “Retirement home for Colored Persons,” later moved into Hough. Area filled with single family homes and exclusive schools like Beaumont School for Girls, University School, Notre Dame Academy, and East High School. Houses of worship built include St. Agnes Parish and Congregational Church.

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University School (Cleveland Memory Project)

1900s. Hough Bakeries founded at 8703 Hough Avenue and Rainey Institute on E. 55th. Our two-story, foursquare house was built, along with several blocks of similar structures that same year.

1920s. Apartment buildings constructed as wealthy residents migrate to the Heights to avoid air pollution from their own factories.  Millionaires destroy their homes as they move out.

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Alhambra Apartments at 8616 Wade Park Ave, circa 2014

1930s. Hough fills with middle class immigrants and laborers.  Homes take in boarders or split into multi-family dwellings.

1950s. Urban renewal and highway development force African-Americans from Central into Hough, increasing from 14% to 75% of its population.  Realtors threaten reduced home values; Polish, Irish, and Spanish-speaking immigrants move out.

1960s. Mounting racial tension caused by deteriorating and overcrowded housing owned by whites and occupied by blacks. (Tip: Don’t be a slumlord) Population peaks at 66,000 residents.

July 18-23, 1966. Hough Riots cause massive property damage and four deaths, and required the assistance of the Ohio National Guard. A grand jury ruled that the Communist Party organized the uprising, but poverty and housing issues are more believable causes.

1970s. Middle class families flee the neighborhood while activists work hard to rebuild with little outside support. Religious communities collaborate to provide food and other social service programs. Nonprofits like Hough Multipurpose Center, Fatima Family Center, Famicos Foundation, and Hough Salvation Army are formed.

1976. Jesse Jackson speaks at dedication of new East High School building.

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Rev Jesse Jackson at East High School Dedication

1985. Lexington Village opens, signaling a new era of residential development.  Crack and AIDS weaken the community.

1990s & 2000s. Population continues to decline while large number of new, single family homes and townhouses are built.  Church Square Shopping Plaza built and visited by President Clinton.

2010-2016. Euclid Avenue significantly rebuilt with Health Line bus connecting Downtown to University Circle, while neighborhood bus lines are cut. Deteriorating schools replaced with new buildings. Funds dedicated to maintain and restore portions of historic League Park. Large scale developers experience community resistance to plans aimed to displace current residents.

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Development along Euclid Ave

If you’re looking for an even shorter (and slightly inaccurate) history of Hough, check out The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

A huge thanks to Christopher Busta-Peck, Founding Editor of Cleveland Area History for fact-checking my dates against the primary records.

And here we are! What are your lessons from Hough’s history? How about your own neighborhood?


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