Diving Into Cleveland’s Hough District History In The 1960s

My father in front of his store: circa 1946

1960s Hough District, Cleveland

My great-grandparents came from Ukraine to the U.S. and settled in the Hough area (pronounced Huff), where my grandfather and father grew up among other refugees to escape antisemitism and persecution around 1900. My father didn’t leave the area until 1954.

From the late 1800s to the pre-WW II era of the twentieth century, Hough served as a melting pot for new immigrants of all religions and nationalities who were reaching for the American dream.

By the late 1920s, my grandfather had opened a small hardware store on 89th Street and Hough, which grew to support his family. Everyone in the family worked there, including my grandparents, father, and uncle. I was there on school holidays and in the summer, sweeping the floor and stocking shelves by the time I was ten years old.

Every native Clevelander knows something of the history of the Hough area. The Hough area on the east side of Cleveland only stretches about twenty-two blocks along Hough Avenue from 71st Street to 93rd, but its importance as a historical, commercial, and cultural component of the city is outsized.

The Hough District In The Healer’s Miraculous Discovery

Its history is also very much a part of the background for The Healer. By ’66, my family had relocated to the suburbs, but our ties to Hough remained, as the family hardware store was still operating in its original location.

On the evening of July 18, 1966, the area exploded into the infamous Hough Riots (more here: Hough Riots: Encyclopedia of Cleveland History | Case Western Reserve University.

Hough had turned into a de facto ghetto for the Black community. It was dirty, dangerous, and poor. Discrimination in the city administration was blatant, but my father naively believed that his ties and support for the neighbors would be enough to escape the ravages of the crowds.

It wasn’t.

Cleaning up after the 1966 Hough riots. Courtesy of ClevelandMemory.org

The backstory in The Healer’s Miraculous Discovery of Hough Avenue is true (the names were changed, of course). I was a firsthand witness to those days and hope that readers will find some important and interesting history there.

Diving Into Cleveland's Hough District History In The 1960s by @SRobbinsAuthor #cleveland #hough #history

My great-grandfather, circa 1920, in his early days as a carpenter in Cleveland


Diving Into Cleveland's Hough District History In The 1960s by @SRobbinsAuthor #cleveland #hough #history

An actual 1910 census page with my ancestors

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