Saturday, May 20, 2006

Cleveland's Disappearing Upper Class

I attended Jim Borchert's excellent talk this afternoon at the Western Reserve Historical Society Library, titled "From Euclid Avenue to the Suburbs: The Strange Case of Cleveland’s Disappearing Upper Class, 1885-2006." A strong turnout heard him discuss why Cleveland's elite moved out Euclid Avenue, up onto the heights and gradually out towards the Chagrin Valley in the first half of the twentieth century. As this was contrary to the pattern in some other cities he is researching for an upcoming book, the natural question is why? Was it commercial pressures and bad zoning protection, as Jan Cigliano suggested in her 1991 book, Showplace of America: Cleveland's Euclid Avenue, 1850-1910, or was it the growing presence of Southern blacks moving into the nearby Central neighborhood as part of the Great Migration, or was it increasing industrial pollution, or was it the allure of pure air and sweeping vistas becoming available in new suburbs on the heights? To find out, you'll have to wait for his book. His talk has me looking forward to it!


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