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175 Years at Brooklyn Centre

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Prepared for the Annual Meeting of The Cleveland Landmarks Commission
By: Ruth Ketteringham January 14, 1987

The surveying parties of 1796 and 1797 surveyed the Western Reserve as far as the Cuyahoga River, boundary line fixed by the Treaty of Green Ville. 1n 1800-01 all land west of the River became Cleveland Township. Indian title was cleared in July, 1805, opening the way for the survey of township 1ines in the summer of 1806. Range 13, Township 7 later became Brooklyn Township. When the draft for lands west of the River was held in Apri1, 1807, most of R13 T7 fell to Samuel P. Lord, an investor in the Connecticut Land Company. He had his holdings (West 117th to the River, Brookpark to the Lake) surveyed into lots about half a mile square in September, 1809.

James Fish and family settled at Mapledale and Pearl in May of 1812, the first permanent white settlers west of the Cuyahoga in the present city of Cleveland. Relatives and friends from back home in Connecticut soon joined them. Brooklyn Township was set up in August, 1818; the same summer eight or ten children attended the first school. By l819 two churches worshiped in the log town house on the Newburgh Road (Denison). In August, 1820 the first scheduled stage couch left Cleveland bound for Columbus on the turnpike (Pear1). The importance of Brooklyn Centre, as the hamlet was now known, can be inferred from the fact that from 1818 until 1824 (when districts were established), all voters traveled to the Centre to cast their votes. First lots were laid out in 1830; the German immigration was under way by the 1840's. Names of merchants, manufacturers, and tradesmen appear on the map of 1858. In August, 1867 Brooklyn Vi11age was incorporated (West 65th and West 73rd to the River, Big Creek valley to Sackett Avenue). With its own school system, fire department, and constable, Brooklyn was a self sufficient New England village. With the beginning of the 1890's, demand for city services increased; in June, 1894 Brooklyn Village was annexed to Cleveland.

Then came a period of rapid growth--folks from the sma1l towns to the south (Brecksville, Strongsville, Royalton, Medina County) flocked to the city. All the present streets were 1aid out by 1906, most of the homes now standing were erected by 1915. A high point of the second decade of this century was the opening of the concrete Brooklyn-Brighton bridge over Big Creek valley in 1915-1916, permitting the first street car service to South Brooklyn. A Polish community relocated from South Brooklyn in 1916 and built St. Barbara's Church and school in East Denison.

Meanwhile many descendents of the Connecticut pioneers and the early German immigrants remained in the area, resulting in a community of unusual stability. The Brooklyn section of the city was a highly desirable residential area and every type of goods and services necessary to feed, clothe, or house a family was available on West 25th Street. Demand for factory workers during World War II brought newcomers from Appalachia, many of whom remained in the neighborhood.

Some families moved away between the Wars, but most changes came with the close of World War II. Since then the massive changes in urban life experienced throughout the country have also affected us. The long period of planning and construction of Interstate 7l also brought grave consequences. The most recent trends have been an increasing need for a variety of social services for our older residents, transients, and those affected by current economic conditions. Presently two groups are moving into the neighborhood: those who are interested in the exceptional housing available and some of Hispanic origins seeking the American dream.

This is an interesting neighborhood. Most of Cleveland was originally sett1ed by New Englanders, but the Brooklyn area kept its sense of "vil1age" longer than other sections. 0n every hand research uncovers the "early", the "first", the "remaining" this or that. Spurred by a deep seated appreciation for the values of our youth, a group of residents formed, in the summer of 1978, the Brooklyn Centre Historical Society, the first local historical society within the city limits. In the fall of 1978 the Archwood Denison Concerned Citizens, dedicated to the consideration of social and civic problems, came into being. Crossroads Development Corporation, an arm of the Department of Community Development of the city of Cleveland, born in 1981, is the child of ADCC. The earnest and dedicated endeavors of the members of these organizations over the past eight years is beginning to bear fruit. Hats off to the people who wear three hats! Hats off to 175 years for Brooklyn Centre!


Denison Avenue:

Antiquity            The Mahoning Trail: to Pittsburgh going east; connecting with the Lake Trail to the west. For pioneers, the route to Warren, seat of the early government.
Centre Days East of Pearl, the Newburgh Road; west of Pearl, the Rockport Road.
Village Days Through the Village, called Newburgh Street; further west, the Ridge.
Today Named for Dan Denison, Pioneer of 1821.

Pearl Road:

Antiquity    The Cuyahoga Indian Trail.
Spring, 1812 Brush hacked out and trail widened when James Fish brought his household goods to his cabin at Pearl and Mapledale.
May, 1817 First appropriation by the County Commissioners to improve travel into the interior of the state (Road to Columbus, state capital.
August, 1820 Referred to as the Turnpike.
April, 1824 Incorporation of the Wayne, Medina, and Cuyahoga Turnpike, a private company responsible for building and maintaing the turnpike between Cleveland and Wayne County until 1854; a toll road.
1850's to mid 1880's Called Columbus Road.
mid 1880's to 1906 Pearl Street.
1906 When Cleveland Streets were numbered, Pearl Street became West 25th Street.
1984 Renamed Pearl Road (I-71 to Brooklyn-Brighton Bridge); north of I-71 it is still West 25th Street.
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