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Woodland Avenue


Cleveland's first Jewish neighborhood

The lower Woodland Avenue area had some of Cleveland's oldest, most dense and worst housing - some of it dating back to just after the Civil War. For generations it would be home to Cleveland's newest immigrants who would move out as soon as their improved fortunes would allow. Sanitation was poor. Many buildings had outhouses and lacked baths or showers. Cleveland's first public bath houses would be built there. (ECH).

The city would grow east and west from downtown. By 1900 the Jewish community, now extended to East 55th street with newer housing for higher income families. The strongest Jewish institutions were on East 55th, including The Temple, B'nai Jeshurun, the Cleveland Hebrew Schools (more ...) and the Jewish Orphan Home.

Between 1900 and 1920 Cleveland's population would double. Newcomers, many of them African-American with very few neighborhoods open to them, poured into Woodland and just as quickly Jews moved out to new homes in Glenville and Mount Pleasant, taking the shops and communal institutions with them.

Cleveland played a pioneering role in public housing in the 1930s and some of the first projects were in lower Woodland. (ECH) This would accelerate in the 1950s and 1960s. The Innerbelt Freeway system, public housing and, starting in 1963, Cuyahoga Community College, would re-make the lower Woodland area. A Community College student center stands on East 30th where Sam and Minnie lived in 1910. Much of upper Woodland, extending to the East 60's is now public housing. This includes the sites of the first Tetiever shul on East 40th near Woodland and the Klausner's home on East 51st.



The best reference on Jewish life on Woodland Avenue is Merging Traditions, by the late Judah Rubenstein, formerly with the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland and Jane Avner of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Fortunately Chapter 2, on Woodland Avenue, is online in the Google book collection. Click here. You'll see Sam Klausner sitting proudly in front of his new Tetiever "shul" on page 68. Sadly, most images are not shown,


including some pictures never before available on the web.

Cleveland's Jewish Population
1860     1,200
1880     3,500
1885     5,000
1888 15-20,000
1905    25,000
1910    45,000
1920   100,000



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