Conflict

The social history of urban development is defined by conflict. Individuals and groups with competing interests commonly vied with each other to create a world that best reflected their beliefs and desires. These competing interests, often a reflection of the inequalities between disparate groups, found expression through public discourse, various forms of protest, and occasional eruptions of violence.

Cleveland was no exception. Since the late 19th century, the city's densely populated landscape was socially stratified and racially segregated. Within these tight quarters, inhabitants of the urban center were confronted with opposing worldviews and unfamiliar cultures. One need only look at a newspaper from any moment in Cleveland's history to find examples of conflict arising between ethnic groups, political parties, or social classes. These conflicts were often critical in creating public awareness of dissenting opinions, helping to change popular perceptions on social or political issues, and shedding light on inequalities.

Examining conflict provides an opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of Cleveland's past. It allows us to trace the transformation of Cleveland society as its residents renegotiated the status quo, pointing to opposing viewpoints that might have otherwise disappeared from the historical record.

In 1919, the United States was experiencing its first "Red Scare." Following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, public sentiment against Socialists - who maintained a strong presence in Cleveland during this era - was high. Many viewed the Socialists and their sympathizers as a…
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On July 5, 1966, Mayor Ralph S. Locher unveiled an eight-point peace program meant to alleviate racial tensions in Cleveland. Prepared by Locher’s administration, businessmen, politicians, community activists, and religious leaders, the pact forged a symbolic peace between the city government and…
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The Shaker Lakes are man-made bodies of water created by the North Union Shaker Community in the mid-nineteenth century to power a series of mills. When the Shakers left and their lands became part of the suburb of Shaker Heights, the lakes remained, becoming the focal point of a series of parks.…
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Anyone who has lived in Cleveland for a while knows that a certain rivalry exists between its east and west sides, separated as they are by the Cuyahoga River. What most people don't realize is just how far back in history the rivalry goes, or that in the 1830s the building of a new bridge…
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The story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer read like a script from one of Bruce Willis' Die Hard movies. In the early morning hours of September 29, 1947, a dozen masked commandos armed with submachine guns and referring to each other by numbers attacked the Mounds Club, one of the Cleveland…
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