Neighborhood History

Between 1854 and 1894, what now is known as the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood was absorbed by the City of Cleveland through the annexations of Ohio City, Brooklyn Township and the Village of West Cleveland. 

Industry developed in this area when what later became the Lakeshore and Michigan Southern Railroad was constructed along the shore of the lake in the 1850’s. At the same time, the Cleveland-Columbus Cincinnati Railroad was constructed at the southern end of the neighborhood in the Walworth run area. Many plants including the Walker Manufacturing Company (now Westinghouse), a wagon and coach shop which eventually became Otis Elevator: Union Carbide and others prospered as a result of the rail service. 

In 1863, the area began to attract homes and commercial development and horse-drawn street cars began to travel along Detroit Avenue. Later these horse drawn cars were replaced by electric street cars. Middle income housing developed along the north-south streets intersecting Detroit Avenue, while the larger, more architecturally distinguished homes were built along Franklin Avenue to the immediate south.   

 Families from Ireland and Germany were the first to settle in the area of St. Colman’s Parish, on W.65th Street near Madison Avenue, organized in the 1880’s it was the focus of the Irish community. The Italian Renaissance style church, built in 1914 is hailed as one of Cleveland’s most beautiful churches. German immigrants settled in the southern portion of the neighborhood as early as 1830. The stability and strength of that community is symbolized by the massive Gothic Structure of St. Stephens Church built in 1873 on W. 54th street between Bridge Avenue and Lorain Avenue.

Later at the turn of the century, families from Italy, Romania and other parts of Southern Europe began to immigrate to the neighborhood. Although the number of residents of Irish or German decent declined since then, descendants remain from some of the original Italian families who moved into the area in the 1890’s. The hub of the Italian community life was established at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, located at W. 69th and Detroit Avenue. The Romanians established an enclave between W. 52nd street and West 65th, north of Detroit Avenue. The Romanians like other ethnic groups developed strong church ties. During the depression and World War II, the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood remained stable. But with postwar affluence, many long-time residents moved to the suburbs.  

Today many new citizens of Cleveland from various ethnic groups such as Puerto Ricans, Appalachians, Mexicans, Vietnamese, Laotians and African Americans all contribute to the rich cultural heritage of the Detroit Shoreway community.

Visit Generations Gallery to learn more about the history of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

History of the Gordon Square District

 The Gordon Square District has many assets that will support the program, most importantly its intact commercial corridor. Shortly after the turn of the 19th century, the West Side neighborhoods were expanding at a rapid pace. Detroit Avenue was a key connector between downtown and outlying villages. Over time, it evolved into a main artery on the West Side, especially since it was also a main streetcar line. The commercial architecture that was constructed housed businesses and services that met the needs of the community. When the Gordon Square Arcade was constructed in 1920, it was the largest construction project of its time on the West Side. The Arcade, along with the Bank Building, the Kennedy Apartments, and a fine structure recently restored by the Pasalis Brothers form a unique site unparalleled on the West Side. West 65th Street and Detroit Avenue is the only intersection with all four early 20th century structures still standing.  

The Legacy of Judge Raymond Pianka

Judge Pianka was the founding director of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO). In 1972, he worked with Irene Catlin and other neighbors on West 76th St. to coordinate a summer home repair and paint program on West 76th Street. Irene and Ray cobbled together enough funding from neighborhood businesses to hire Ray to coordinate this summer program. Ray then worked with many neighborhood stakeholders including then Councilman Michael Zone, one of the incorporators of DSCDO, to found DSCDO in 1973. Ray was hired as the first executive director. DSCDO couldn’t afford office space and was located in the garage of his home. He worked for DSCDO until election to Cleveland City Council in 1985 and then to Cleveland Municipal Housing Court Judge in 1995. 

Those who worked with or knew Ray were consistently inspired, challenged, and encouraged by his leadership. No one is a better example of service and dedication to one’s community than Ray. He lived his entire life within two blocks of Detroit Ave. & West 65th St. and was tireless in his caring for our neighborhood.

Video Tribute to Judge Raymond Pianka

A neighborhood with a view, a community with a vision.

The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization | 6516 Detroit Avenue | Cleveland, Ohio 44102 | 216.961.4242 thunder::tech :: a marketing agency