The Sum(mer) of its Parts



Matt MacDonald
Over the past couple of months, I have been shedding a little bit of historical light when it comes to the different parts of the Greater Cleveland area in an attempt to divine whether certain neighborhoods make our city great or if it’s all of the neighborhoods combined. When it comes to Tremont, I’m a little biased: roughly ten years ago, this is where I started my family.

Originally known as “Southside”, given it’s proximity to Downtown Cleveland, as little as 20 years ago Tremont was one of the parts of town where you didn’t want to go. Crime, low-rent housing that attracted all sorts of ne’er do-wells, and an overwhelming sense of decay permeated the entire neighborhood. What further crumbled as a result of this neglect was the rich history that the neighborhood was founded on.

Point of fact: How many Clevelanders can say that they were aware of the fact that Cleveland’s largest and most efficient Civil War camp, Camp Cleveland, was centered in present-day Tremont? Precious few, I’m certain. It was located in the area that is bound by present-day W.5th, W.7th, Railway and Marquardt Avenues (Van Tassel, Grabowski, 1987). What’s more is that it has also been lost to history that Tremont was formerly considered a part of Ohio City from 1836 through 1854 (this was when Ohio City was still considered a city!) (Van Tassel, Grabowski, 1987).
Prior to living in Tremont, my wife and I had been living in a split level a few blocks from Metro Health Medical Center. Often we would make the long-ish walk over to Tremont because it was a significantly better neighborhood then what we were living in at the time.

At this point, Tremont was well on the road to rehabilitation and it just felt like we were supposed to live there. Settling in an apartment behind Tremont Scoops, we became spectators to Urban Renewal in action while we raised our three children.

This summer, Tremont continues to be no stranger to building a sense of community. Throughout the entire month of August, the cornerstone of Tremont, Lincoln Park will be rife with activities ranging from group yoga (known as Yoga Rocks the Park) to the neighborhood stalwart, the Tremont Farmer’s Market.

Fun fact? In 1850, Mrs. Thirsa Pelton originally bought the site of Lincoln Park with the intention of opening a girl’s school. Unfortunately, she died before the school could be built. As a result of her passing, Pelton’s heirs surrounded the park with a fence and locked the gates. The residents of Tremont were none too pleased with this. In response to the ignorance of Mrs. Pelton’s heirs, Tremont residents tore the fence down because they felt that this was an area that should be open to the public. Bitter litigation ensued resulting in the city’s purchase of the park.

The residents celebrated the opening of Pelton Park on July 4, 1880, with a barbecue and additional festivities. It wasn’t until 1896 that the park was renamed Lincoln Park (Van Tassel, Grabowski, 1987).

Also happening in the park is the Arts in August. With events running the gambit from productions of Shakespeare to ballet to opera, the Arts in August is guaranteed to bring culture to an all ready culture rich area.
Sources Consulted
Van Tassel, David D (Ed.). Grabowski, John J. (Ed.). (1987). The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.