Gordon Square

Located at the intersection of W. 65th Street and Detroit Avenue, Gordon Square is the historic commercial district of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. As residential construction and industry grew along and away from Detroit Avenue following the turn of the 19th century, the Gordon Square commercial district emerged to meet the retail, recreational, and service needs of the surrounding community. The construction of the Gordon Square Arcade and Community Building symbolized the prominence of this bustling community. Encompassing an entire city block, the Gordon Square Arcade was the largest construction project to have taken place on the West Side at the time of its opening in 1921. The arcade quickly became the heart of the Gordon Square commercial district.


Gordon Square: Everything that you needed... Frank Murphy recalls the Gordon Square neighborhood of his childhood. Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities


W. 65th Street and Detroit Avenue The Gordon Square area was an apple orchard and garden of prominent wholesale grocer and iron ore dealer William J Gordon in the late 1800's. What is now W. 65th Street ran through these grounds, and was referred to as Gordon Street. This street would later lend its name to the commercial district. Photograph courtesy of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
The Capitol Theatre The Capitol Theatre was constructed as part of the Gordon Square Arcade and Community Building between 1920-1921. Located in the vibrant and bustling commercial center of what is now known as the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, the Capitol theater - along with a billiards room, the Gordon Square Theatre on Detroit Avenue, and establishments such as bars and restaurants - provided entertainment and recreation options for the surrounding community. Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
West Side Irish American Club Ladies' Drill Team, 1961 The area surrounding Gordon Square was originally settled by Irish immigrants. Clustered between Detroit Avenue, Herman Avenue, W. 65th Street, and W. 69th Street, these early settlers came from County Mayo, Achill - an impoverished region on the west coast of Ireland. Even as the neighborhood gave way to Italian immigrants during the early 20th century, the Irish retained a strong presence around Gordon Square. The Irish community regularly frequented the building now inhabited by Cleveland Public Theatre at 6415 Detroit Avenue, using the upstairs for community events, dances, and social club meeting. During the 1930s, the West Side Irish American Club began their St. Patrick's Day march to downtown Cleveland at the corner of W. 65th Street and Detroit Avenue. Photograph courtesy of Cleveland State University Special Collections.
The Gordon Square Arcade, 1996 Just as the Gordon Square Arcade was a reflection of the neighborhood's prosperity throughout the first half of the century, the building followed suit as the area succumbed to the effects of suburbanization after World War II. An absentee owner and a weakened commercial district each played their part as the building fell into disrepair, culminating in the parapet of the arcade crashing down onto W. 65th Street in 1978. Saved from demolition through the efforts of concerned residents and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, the building was rehabilitated in an effort to reestablish the intersection as a commercial center and promote development in the outlying community. A reflection of their success can be seen in the continued economic development of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood outward from the Gordon Square district. Photograph courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library
The Gordon Square Food Market, 1951 The site of the Gordon Square Food Market had previously been occupied by the Gordon Square Theatre. Constructed in 1912, the vaudeville house lasted until 1932. Both the Great Depression and the decline of vaudeville's popularity in an era of motion pictures played a significant role in the theater's demise. Photograph courtesy of Cleveland State University Special Collections
W. 65th Street and Detroit Avenue, 1948 The convergence of W. 65th Street and Detroit Avenue is one of two intersections in Cleveland where all four buildings predate World War II. Known as "Four Corners", the intersection is a reflection of the efforts made by both local activists and community development groups to preserve the history of the neighborhood while simultaneously working to promote economic and commercial growth. Photograph courtesy of Cleveland Public Library



Richard Raponi, “Gordon Square,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 5, 2023, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/146.