The North and South Broadway communities, now known as Broadway Slavic Village, were originally part of Newburgh Township, organized in 1814 as one of the earliest settlements in Cuyahoga County. Settlers from New England were first attracted to this area in 1796 by the fresh water and power provided by the fast-flowing Mill Creek.
In the first half of the 19th century, construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal led to industrial and commercial growth in the Broadway area, including the establishment of several steel mills. With the arrival of heavy industry came a large influx of Welsh, English, Scottish and Irish immigrants. Many working class neighborhoods were formed within walking distance of the factories that provided employment. Later, in the 1870s and 1880s, Czech and Polish immigrants arrived, bringing their culture and religion to the area. Over the years, they created a neighborhood as rich in ethnic history as any in the United States. These immigrant workers also built churches and national halls, most of which still serve the community today.
Commercial development occurred primarily along Broadway and Fleet Avenues. At its peak in the 1920s, the intersection of E. 55th Street and Broadway was rivaled only by downtown Cleveland and the East 105th Street area. Fleet Avenue developed with Polish-owned businesses intermingled with residential housing.
Today, Broadway Slavic Village is a national leader in reimagining urban land use to meet 21st century quality standards. In addition to new parks and green space that are home to numerous concerts, festivals and a Farmer’s Market, in 2006 Slavic Village Development opened the Morgana Run Bike Trail, which connects to the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath and has 5 public art installations, including the iconic 35’ Rotaflora sculpture and the 600’ Pixelating Morgana mural. Since 2009, over $50 million in projects have been completed or are currently under construction, including the $10 million new Mound School, the $6 million Stefanski Stadium and the $9 million E. 55th RTA Rapid station.
Slavic Village Historical Society
The Slavic Village Historical Society is located in the offices of Slavic Village Development at 5620 Broadway Avenue, #200. It is operated by the Mill Creek Falls History Center. The Slavic Village Historical Society (SVHS) was certified by the State of Ohio as a public non-profit organization on July 12, 1995. It serves Cleveland’s Slavic Village and Broadway-East 55th neighborhoods as well as the Mill Creek area.
The Historical Society’s mission is “to instill and increase the historical knowledge of the area known as Slavic Village and its adjacent communities.” To carry out this mission, the SVHS conducts neighborhood tours and gives presentations to area organizations.
You can also search for old Slavic Village photographs at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland Memory Project.