For several years beginning in 1995, most issues of “Focus on the Heights” — published quarterly by the City of Cleveland Heights— included a short look into the etymologies, oddities and personalities of our city’s highways and byways. Written by Ken Goldberg, later Cleveland Heights Historical Society President, they represent an unusual, historical tour through “The Streets of Cleveland Heights.” Following below is the inaugural article, published in the summer of 1995. We hope you’ll enjoy it, as well as all the other articles that can be accessed from this page.
Have you ever wondered how your street got its name? Perhaps Cleveland Heights’ bright new street signs will heighten awareness of your street names. Actually, our streets are primarily roads, with some boulevards (sometimes divided and always platted), some avenues (usually straight), a few drives, streets and lanes, one parkway and a path.
What can be said of the Cleveland Heights naming style? For starters, our developers did not go in for “cute” names, like Strongsville’s “Bear’s Paw Lane” or Brecksville’s “Crinkleroot Clearing.” For the most part, our city’s street names are typical of other Midwestern neighborhoods and suburbs developed between the 1890s and 1930, by which time almost all of our streets were laid out. Several of our oldest streets come up the hill from Cleveland and continue the Cleveland names. We have quite a few streets which have East versions, but also a West, some Norths and a few Souths.
We have pairs and triplets which have confused visitors, delivery people and repairmen for generations, such as Englewood/Inglewood (and Idlewood), Delmore/Dellwood, Pennfield/Renfield, Nordway/Northcliffe, Essex/Exeter, Woodridge/Woodview, Middlefield/Middlehurst/Middleton, and Oakdale/Oakridge/Oakwood!
We also have streets, or segments thereof, which have changed names. And, of course, we have a number of streets named after early settlers and developers and their family members.
Not quite to the extent of Shaker Heights, but definitely a strong British influence pervades. A few street names are from the Scots, there is a small section with German names, and a few names are borrowed from American Indian tribes. Also, the romanticized image of Florida and California is represented, with streets of the 1910s and ’20s sporting the fashionable place names of those alluring vacationlands.
Other names were taken from the booming, influential metropolis of Chicago. Many street names are identical to the names of plans found in the house catalogs of the era.
We have streets named after trees (with some of these streets still lined with same), the “royal” streets, and our streets with names related to their geographic settings (Ravine Drive, Shaker Road), or proximity to a certain main street (Cedarbrook or Nobleshire Roads). Then there is the street with the name that is another street spelled backwards (Elbon/Noble).
Did you know that so admired were our early developers’ choices of street names, or the Heights in general, that a whole neighborhood in Vermilion sports street names from Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights? And is it a fact or merely legend that one developer built a “Cleveland Heights” subdivision in Florida, also graced with street names copying ours?