Irishtown Bend

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Irishtown Bend is an area of Cleveland, Ohio, USA located along the Cuyahoga River in the Flats. It encompassed roughly the area from West 25th Street east to the river north of Detroit Road. The swampy area was developed during the 1830s by immigrant Irish who came to the area as laborers for the construction of the city's railways and canal. Many soon found work on the bustling city docks, or in the growing industries. The area was characterized by the extreme poverty of the outcast Irish, the majority of whom lived in nothing more than flimsy shacks on the hill side above the river. The constant threat of disease in the swampy land along the river and the backbreaking work most engaged in made life in Irishtown tough. Life was centered on 10- to 12-hour work days, their community, the pub, and their faith.

Due to their outcast status in Cleveland society, the Irish formed a very close knit, closed neighborhood. Increased immigration during the 1840s and brought more of their countrymen to this west side community, causing it to expand. The neighborhood became known as the Angle, including old Irishtown and Whiskey Island. In the 1860s St. Malachi Church was built in Irishtown, with St. Patrick's built earlier a little further west. With continued growth the Irish expanded as far west as West 65th Street adding a third parish, St. Colman's, in the 1880s. In this time the Irish had gained some upward mobility in society. Increased industry, job opportunities, as well business of their own allowed for economic growth in the community. However the Angle, especially Irishtown, remained the poorest area. Many families in Irishtown still lived in shacks on stilts on the hillside of the diseased and polluted Cuyahoga River. This remained the case until into the early 20th century.

As the Irish of Cleveland began to join the ranks of the middle class, they left Irishtown and headed for the western suburbs of Lakewood, Fairview Park and West Park (now a neighborhood of Cleveland). The homes that were left behind would become inhabited by Hungarian immigrants for a brief time, then abandoned. Most of the structures were demolished with only a handful of them remaining today. Between the years of 1987 and 1989, an archeology team led by Dr. Al Lee of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History began to excavate the area. Where the home of Cleveland's first Irish once stood remained many of their possessions, including ceramics and personal effects with a distinct Irish flavor.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]