Gordon Square: From Outlaw Enclave to Arts District

Tour curated by: The Cleveland Historical Team

The Gordon Square Arts District comprises an area of the west side of Cleveland which was once most famously known as the home grounds of the McCart Street gang, one of Cleveland's most infamous street gangs. During the gang's late nineteenth century reign, and thereafter well into the twentieth century, the neighborhood experienced successive waves of immigration from Europe, which marked it in unique and special ways. Today, in the space of a short walk, visitors can experience the Irish, the Italians, the Romanians, and others who contributed to making this one of the most interesting historic ethnic neighborhoods of Cleveland.

From West Cleveland Village and headquarters of the notorious McCart Street Gang in the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century arrival of Cleveland Public Theater (CPT) and rebirth of Gordon Square Arcade and the Capitol Theater, this west side neighborhood of Cleveland has, over the course of the last 130 years, successfully transitioned into a vibrant arts district which has managed to retain a unique ethnic neighborhood flavor.

Locations for Tour

Carved out of the Brooklyn Township territory, West Cleveland was incorporated as a village in 1871. The new suburb consisted of 1,500 acres of land and was bounded on the north by Lake Erie, on the east by the Cleveland corporation line near Gordon…

Many Cleveland moviegoers have seen Martin Scorsese's 2002 film "Gangs of New York," a story about the vicious street gangs that populated New York's notorious Five Points District around the time of the U.S. Civil War. Few…

The Zitiello Bank, located at 6810 Herman Avenue, was the earliest known ethnic bank opened in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. The bank was founded by Joseph Zitiello, an immigrant from the Campania region of Italy who came to Cleveland in 1898. …

Upon entering Cleveland's west side "Little Italy", one is instantly met with a display of Italian colors on benches, fire hydrants, sidewalks, and telephone poles. Best known for its street processionals and annual church festival,…

A Romanian settlement grew and flourished along Detroit Avenue between West 45th Street and West 65th Street from the 1900s to the middle of the century. The self-contained neighborhood housed a variety of businesses both owned by and catering to…

Founded in 1904, St. Mary Orthodox Romanian Church was the first Romanian Orthodox parish established in the United States. Originally located on Detroit Avenue, the parish's development and eventual relocation to Warren Road parallels the…

Located on West 65th Street near Detroit Avenue, St. Helena Romanian Catholic Church marks the site of Cleveland's largest Romanian enclave during the early 20th century. St. Helena's was built under the guidance of Father Epaminonda S.…

The Gordon Square Arcade opened to the public on April 8, 1921. The unique and massive structure quickly became the centerpiece of the Gordon Square commercial district, and a source of pride for the surrounding neighborhood. The monumental building…

On April 8, 1921, the Capitol Theatre opened its doors to the public at the dedication of the Gordon Square Arcade and Community Building. Developed by the West Side Amusement Co. and Canadian motion picture theater promoters Jule and J.J. Allen, the…

Cleveland Public Theatre was founded in 1982 by Cleveland native James Levin. From its early years, CPT was instrumental in promoting, creating, and providing a home for experimental theater in the Cleveland area. Initially sparking interest in…
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