Italian Neighborhoods in Cleveland

By Pamela Dorazio Dean

Between 1880-1920, more than 25,000 Italians immigrated to Cleveland. While many are aware of the Little Italy neighborhood’s connection to the Italian immigrants, it was not the only place they settled. There were multiple areas throughout Cleveland in addition to Little Italy where Italians made their homes. These areas maintained their Italian population until the 1970s when the flight to the suburbs emptied many of the inner-city neighborhoods. Following is a list of what were once the major Italian neighborhoods in Cleveland.
Big Italy – The first Italian settlement in Cleveland which was located along Woodland Avenue from Ontario and Orange Avenues to East 40th Street, near what was known as the Haymarket District. This was primarily a Jewish neighborhood until the Italians started moving in the 1880s and by 1900, the area became all Italian.
Little Italy – The most recognized Italian settlement in Cleveland is located between East 119th to East 125th Streets and is centered on Murray Hill and Mayfield Roads. Italians began settling here in the 1880s. Most were stone carvers and cutters who worked for Joseph Carabelli at his monument works company located on Euclid Avenue across from Lake View Cemetery.
Collinwood – The Italian section of Collinwood was located to the east of the Five Points intersection in the area between Ivanhoe Road and Saint Clair Avenue. Italian immigrants started to move here in the 1910s. It was one of the few Italian neighborhoods that held on to its Italian population through the 1970s. Many Italians were attracted to this neighborhood because they were able to find jobs working with the railroads.
Luna Park/Our Lady of Mount Carmel-East – This Italian neighborhood developed where there was once an amusement park, which is why it is referred to as Luna Park in addition to the name of the Catholic church established there. In 1938, the last remaining building of the park was demolished and a neighborhood was developed. Its center was East 110th and Woodland Avenue. The Orlando Family of the Orlando Baking Company had its first bakery in this neighborhood and Little John Rinaldi of the “Big Chuck and Little John Show” grew up here.
Blue Rock Spring – This small Italian settlement was centered around Frank Avenue and Petrarca Road in what is now known as the Cedar-Glenn neighborhood. It was adjacent to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel-East neighborhood, so it often gets grouped together with it. Petrarca Road was once part of Woodhill Road. It was renamed in the 1940s for Pfc. Frank J. Petrarca, a neighborhood boy who became the first Congressional Medal of Honor in the state of Ohio during WWII.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel-West – The Italian community in this area was centered around West 65th and Detroit Avenue and extended north to Lake Erie. It is named for the Catholic church established there. Today the area is known as Gordon Square and is part of the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
Saint Rocco – The Italian community was centered around Clark and Fulton Avenues, between West 41st Street and West 31st Street. It is named for the Catholic church established in the neighborhood.