Hough

Cleveland's Hough neighborhood takes its name from Oliver and Eliza Hough, who settled there in 1799. Before the Civil War, the area was mainly used as farmland. After being incorporated into the City of Cleveland in 1873, Hough became home to many of the city's most prominent residents and exclusive private schools. Following World War I, most of these wealthy Clevelanders left Hough for the suburbs and the neighborhood took on a more middle class and ethnic character.

The decades following World War II brought further demographic changes to Hough. In the 1950s, many whites in Hough moved to the suburbs, while blacks - whose numbers had increased in the city due to to the Second Great Migration - streamed into Hough from the adjacent Central neighborhood. By 1960, African Americans - who previously had only a small presence in the neighborhood - made up the majority of its population. Hough's tax base plummeted in the wake of white flight and conditions in large parts of the neighborhood deteriorated. Increasing unemployment, unscrupulous absentee landlords, declining city services, racial tensions among residents and poor relations between blacks and the police all played a part in the troubles Hough faced in the years leading up to the riots.

A number of differing accounts exist concerning the incident that sparked the Hough Riots of July 1966. All versions speak to growing racial tensions in the neighborhood. The most popular account centers on a racially charged dispute between blacks and the white owner of the Seventy Niners' Café on Hough Avenue and East 79th Street on the night of July 18. After an argument in the bar earlier that day with a local prostitute who was soliciting money for her child's burial, the owner refused to give a black customer a glass of water. The owner then apparently taped a sign to the door stating "No Water For N***ers." A crowd of blacks grew outside the bar as news of the events spread. Policemen were called to the scene, but the situation quickly spiraled out of control, escalating from rock throwing to looting, arson and shooting.

On the second day of the riots, it was clear that the police were not able to handle the situation alone. The Ohio National Guard reinforced the police late that night and secured most of Hough by July 20th. The riots, however, moved to the outskirts of the neighborhood. While the National Guard and the police maintained a general sense of order, violence and small riots continued throughout the week. By July 25th the rioting had stopped. In the end, four people (all black) were killed during the Hough riots. Rioters targeted stores, abandoned buildings, and residences; many were looted, burned, and destroyed.

Beyond the physical impact of the riots on the neighborhood, the legacy of the disturbances is contested. Many people attribute the public's growing realization of the social and economic inequities that African Americans faced in Cleveland's ghettos to the riots. Others suggest that the 1967 election of Cleveland's first black mayor, Carl Stokes, was a call for stability in response to the chaos that occurred. People interpreting the riots less positively reflect on the damage they caused to people and property. After the riots the economic and physical condition of the Hough neighborhood did not dramatically improve. Many businesses did not reopen and, increasingly, residents that could afford to leave the neighborhood moved to other areas.

The revitalization of Hough after the riots was slow and painful, just as rehabilitation efforts had been in the years before the riots. The Hough Area Development Corporation (HADC), one of the nation's first community development corporations, spearheaded a number of projects intended to revive the neighborhood, but Hough continued to lose population rapidly. Since the 1980s, especially under the vigorous leadership of Councilman Fannie Lewis, the area's decline has shown signs of leveling off amid investments such as the Lexington Village and Beacon Place townhouses, Renaissance Village (a group of twenty upmarket homes), and novel land reuse strategies such as Chateau Hough, an urban vineyard.

Images

Wade Park Avenue, 1939

Wade Park Avenue, 1939

Streetcar Tracks on Wade Park Avenue, 1939 Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

East High Logo, 1907

East High Logo, 1907

East High School - home of the Blue Bombers - opened in 1901 on the corner of East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue. Famous alumni include Bob Hope and Chester Himes. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

University School, 1920

University School, 1920

University School was established in 1890 at Hough Avenue and East 71st Street (then known as Giddings Avenue). The school, whose building was designed by architect Charles Schweinfurth, was one of the first country day schools in the nation, training boys in both industrial machine operation and college preparatory curriculum. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

East High Baseball, 1951

East High Baseball, 1951

Walt Guzik is lifted by his coach and a teammate after pitching a winning game for East High School. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

East High, 1912

East High, 1912

This building opened in 1901 and was torn down in 1975 upon the opening of the "new" East High School. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Hough Bakeries, 1953

Hough Bakeries, 1953

Lionel A. Pile opened a small bakery at 8708 Hough Avenue in 1903. From these humble beginnings Hough Bakeries Inc. grew into a multi-million dollar business, though it eventually went bankrupt in 1992. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

National Guard In Hough, 1966

National Guard In Hough, 1966

Governor James A. Rhodes called in the Ohio National Guard to help stop the violence associated with the Hough Riots. They arrived late in the evening during the second night of rioting. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Apartment Building, 1967

Apartment Building, 1967

This apartment building at 7769 Lexington Avenue stood vacant and vandalized following the Hough riots. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections | Creator: Glenn Zahn View File Details Page

Victor Building, 1975

Victor Building, 1975

Located at East 66th Street and Wade Park Avenue, the Victor Building was razed after being seized by the county due to delinquent taxes in 1975. It was among the last buildings of the so-called "tenement empire" remaining in Hough by the 1970s. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Audio

Living Through The Riots

Carmel Whiting shares her memories of the Hough neighborhood and the general racial climate of Cleveland after the 1966 riots View File Details Page

Hearing About Hough In Vietnam

Newscaster Leon Bibb recalls the turbulent racial and political landscape of 1960s America as viewed from Vietnam View File Details Page

Changes in the Neighborhood

Jacob Rosenheim describes the changes that occurred in the Hough Neighborhood beginning in the mid-fifties. View File Details Page

Video

Hough Riots, Pt. 1: "We knew something was going on..."

Bennie Jean Johnson recalls her memories of the Hough Riots. | Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities View File Details Page

Hough Riots, Pt. 2: "Was it Good?"

Larry Rivers recalls his memories of the Hough Riots. | Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

“Hough,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 25, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/7.
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