Defining a neighborhood’s identity in cleveland – rough draft

(this is a rough draft)

Defining neighborhoods and discussion of Cleveland’s neighborhood names and boundaries has a discussion on urbanohio.com led me to and gather up some of my thoughts and observations from the recent years.

(from
[quote author=8ShadesofGray link=topic=2492.msg712498#msg712498 date=1403364432]
Time will tell whether the name Hingetown will stick Not the case in Ohio City, but I’d argue at this point, Gordon Square probably has a stronger brand than Detroit Shoreway and Asiatown a much stronger brand than the city’s official designations of the area as Goodrich-Kirtland or Payne-Sterling.

(context: Hingetown, a name for a neighborhood based on West 29th and Church Ave, where Rising Star Coffee is located).

As for Hingetown, I’m not a fan of the name itself (aesthetically, like ‘hingetown?’) but understand its functionality and Graham’s motivation for it. North of Lutheran Hospital unfortunately still has a stigma (I am not saying that it is justified) of being unsafe. Instead of strongly tying in with Ohio City, he decided to create a new name (to fight the stigma) and perhaps he thought it was OC was too geographically large and it needed a sub neighborhood (I could agree with the latter point).

A single business owner creating the neighborhood’s name isn’t the healthiest to do (did he consult any other local stakeholders? the residents, other businesses in the area?) I’ve seen the name used so far by Ohio City’s twitter and coolcleveland: that’s about it. The fact that it is very uniquely positioned: right across from the DS Bridge and leading to downtown is really the only unique characteristic that I see it distinct from the rest of Ohio City.

With regards to defining neighborhoods; geographical features are certainly an influence but it is not the only one. (They also act as borders; for example, the wide cliff between Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn). Housing stock/age, businesses, other establishments that are unique to an area are also key influences. Most importantly, the residents of these neighborhoods – what should be the largest influence to determine a neighborhood’s name, aren’t using the names or self-identify as residents of that neighborhood.

Definitely agree with you on that point. City of cleveland planning officially has ‘statistical planning areas’ (36!) that are described by the city to be functionally equivalent ‘neighborhoods’.

In the case of the City of Cleveland, their influence of defining neighborhoods is minimal.

In several cases (corlett, jefferson, goodrich-kirtland, Euclid-Green), the names appear in only city planning documents.

Others (fairfax, Cuddell) have more use and identity as a neighborhood: they’re used by the CDCs and in the names of parks/Rec Centers/Public Libraries, maybe a local business or 2. (The level that they’re used by local businesses, stakeholders, and residents vary).

Then, I’d argue there’s a 3rd tier, others on that list (mount pleasant, hough, ohio city, old brooklyn, west park, tremont, collinwood) are extremely popular, used in the name of local businesses or stakeholders (churches, local non-profits), have numerous signage in the area that identify the neighborhood, and residents identify as being from there.

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