St. Clair Superior

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cleveland transformed into a major industrial city, attracting a wide range of manufacturers. Although the Flats may be the first place many think of when they imagine the rise of industry in Cleveland, other industrial corridors also lined the city’s network of railroads and the lakefront. By about 1880, Cleveland’s near east side, now known as St. Clair-Superior, already had a few small iron foundries and tube works along the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad and Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad. Over the next three decades, almost all the land between St. Clair Avenue and the lake from East 30th to 55th Streets gradually became industrial, primarily metals and machine works, while land to the south of St. Clair became predominantly a densely settled residential area. Further east, small workers’ homes nestled in the shadows of several larger plants near the lake: Cleveland Gas light and Coke Co. (later East Ohio Gas Co.), Lake Erie Iron Co., American Steel and Wire Co., and White Motor and White Sewing Machine Co.

As in other old Cleveland neighborhoods like Detroit-Shoreway, Slavic Village, and Tremont, the future St. Clair-Superior neighborhood attracted many recent immigrants looking for a place to live close to nearby concentrations of industrial jobs. While the area had a mix of various working class immigrant groups, including Lithuanians, Poles, Italians, Germans, and Croatians, it was Slovenians that perhaps most defined the neighborhood. In the first half of the 20th century, St. Clair-Superior amassed the largest Slovenian population in the world outside Slovenia itself. As the population of Slovenians as other southern and eastern Europeans swelled, local businesses, churches, and social clubs emerged to help them assimilate to American life while also allowing them to retain their ethnic identity.

After World War II, the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood, like so many other areas of Cleveland, began to experience a drastic shift in population as returning GIs and their families, many of them joining the growing middle class, began to move to the suburbs. Not everyone left, of course, and places like St. Vitus Church and the Slovenian National Home remained essential anchors. In 1976 a new grassroots organization called the St. Clair-Superior Coalition formed, combining Near Town from East 40th to East 55th Streets and the Slovenian-Croatian settlement from East 55th to 79th Streets with the intention of helping to prevent homes and businesses from falling into blight. In 1999 the organization merged with the St. Clair Business Association to form the present-day St. Clair Superior Development Corporation (SCSDC). SCSDC gradually expanded its coverage westward to East 30th Street, encompassing the growing Asiatown. Today, there are still some local businesses, both large and small, and structures that help to showcase the diverse history of St. Clair-Superior. There also remains an effort to preserve the neighborhood’s Slovenian roots, including Kurentovanje (a Slovenian festival designed to scare away winter), which takes place every year at the Slovenian National Home and allows local vendors the ability to showcase the sights, sounds, and smells of an ethnic neighborhood that made Cleveland their home.

Maple Lanes Bowling Alley and Tavern

Across the United States there are over twelve thousand bowling alleys in operation. Of these twelve thousand, the Bowling Proprietors Association of America recognizes only twelve registered alleys which still use manual pin setters to reset their…

Azman & Sons Market

Some masters of craft may work in paints, and others, wood. Frank Azman III, however, works in meats and has been doing so for the past four decades. An afternoon spent in Azman & Sons Market over a sausage sandwich reveals in one bite why the…

Slovenian National Home

Slovenian migrants have built National Homes at the center of their communities wherever they have moved throughout the world. Cleveland's Slovenian National Home is the cultural center for Cleveland's Slovenian community and the largest…

Diemer Mansion

In a city with a history as rich as Cleveland, one would have no problem finding a building, landscape, or district recognized either nationally or locally for its historical significance. Places like the Terminal Tower, Rockefeller Park, or the West…

SIFCO Industries, Inc.

Cleveland is a city that was built upon the backs of industries and although it has come to be identified with burning rivers and unavailing sports franchises, the industrial culture of the region is what drove, and continues to drive, a significant…

St. Vitus Church

Jožef Turk arrived in Cleveland from Slovenia on October 25, 1881, and was soon followed by so many of his fellow countrymen that by the early 20th century Cleveland could be considered the third largest ‘Slovenian’ city in the world.  These…

Zak Funeral Home

Funeral homes are necessary to every functioning community, but they are generally not the sexiest and most popular businesses in town. Successful ones, however, provide more than just rudimentary mortuary services to their neighbors, and are…

The East Ohio Gas Company Explosion

As you explore St. Clair-Superior, you will see a traditional, turn of the century, working-class, immigrant neighborhood. Yet there is a small area, no larger than a city block, which feels out of place. Instead of the multistory frame houses that…

Frank Sterle's Slovenian Country House

Frank Sterle, an immigrant from Ljubljana, Slovenia, founded his Slovenian Country House in 1954. With a small building on East 55th Street, a few picnic tables, and only one waitress - who had to memorize the small menu since none had been printed -…

The Cleveland East Side Turners

The small, two and half story, red brick building lying in the shadow of the long-abandoned Richmond Bros. complex on East 55th Street is not exactly welcoming. The building sits on a weed-filled lawn behind a small parking lot, surrounded by a…

Richman Brothers Co.

The Richman Brothers Company was originally founded by Jewish-Bavarian immigrant Henry Richman Sr. and his brother-in-law and business partner Joseph Lehman in Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1853. In an effort to become closer to a bustling city, both to…

W.S. Tyler Co. Building

A common challenge faced by all older industrial cities is how to make use of multistory factory buildings. The mid-twentieth-century rush to sprawling suburban, one-level factories surrounded by ample parking lots made these original layouts…

Ariel International Center

Imagine leaving work in downtown Cleveland on a cold, early winter evening in 1887. Though that winter would go on record as one of the warmest in Cleveland’s history, and it was in the upper 60’s just days before, November 29th was a bitterly…
With research support from the Charles M. and Helen M. Brown Memorial Foundation and St. Clair Superior Development Corporation.