Ohio 11th District
Like most great American cities, Cleveland grew in great bursts of migration, during periods when the economy expanded and attracted low-wage workers from around the country and the world. Cleveland’s greatest surge of growth started in the 1890s and lasted through the 1920s, as tens of thousands of immigrants from central and southern Europe arrived, looking for jobs in the steel, automobile and other factories. Bohemians came to the tightly packed neighborhoods along Broadway, Hungarians settled in the northeast, and Jews north of University Circle along East 105th Street. Italians ran produce markets along Mayfield Road. As the nation’s heavy industries geared up for World War II and enjoyed years of prosperous growth afterward, a second surge of immigrants came, this time blacks from the South. Starting from Cleveland’s old ghetto, south of Carnegie Avenue downtown to East 105th, the rapidly increasing number of African-Americans covered most of the east side by the middle 1960s, when only a few Bohemian and Italian enclaves remained east of the Cuyahoga River. Migration stopped around 1965, but African-Americans continued to move beyond the city limits to the east-side suburbs. These bursts of migration led to political changes. A string of ethnic mayors—Frank Lausche, Anthony Celebrezze, Ralph Locher—was followed by the election in 1967 of Carl Stokes, the nation’s first black big-city mayor. Cleveland had racially polarized politics for much of the 1970s. Even so, the west side stayed mostly white, and Cleveland did not have a black majority until the 2000 census, when its declining population was 51% black. The Census Bureau reported in 2008 that Cleveland was second to Detroit as the poorest of the nation’s big cities, with 45% of all children living in poverty.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 11th Congressional District of Ohio includes most of the east side of Cleveland, plus the suburbs just to the east, which together have about as many people as the city now does. Some of these communities—East Cleveland, Warrensville Heights—are mostly black. Some, notably Shaker Heights, have stable black percentages in carefully maintained neighborhoods where racial integration has succeeded. Near the campus of Case Western Reserve University on the east side, Severance Hall is one of the nation’s grand symphony-orchestra homes. Downtown, Cleveland State University has a large campus. The average age of its roughly 16,000 students is 25 years old. The city’s No. 1 employer is health services, and the Cleveland Clinic, with 1,800 doctors, is internationally renowned, especially for cardiac care. Other suburbs are the destination of African-Americans seeking low-crime neighborhoods and middle-class schools. Still others have attracted Cleveland’s relatively few new immigrants, most of them from Eastern Europe—Russians in Mayfield Heights and Serbs in South Euclid. Overall, 58% of the people in the 11th District are African-American. Politically, this is by far the most Democratic district in Ohio.