History of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
A General Overview
of the History
West Park Neighborhood
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General Moses A. Cleaveland and his surveyors arrived on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River in July 1796. Settlers were not allowed on the west side of the river because it was still Indian land. In 1803, the Territory became the State of Ohio. In 1806, the government settled with the Indians permitting settlers to enter the west side of the Cuyahoga River.
Cleaveland's survey designated Rockport as number seven of range 14, consisting of twenty-one full sections of a mile square, and four fractional sections due to the changing line of the lake shore. The land, located on the shore of Lake Erie, was generally level and of good soil, particularly well adapted to the growing of fruit.
There were only Indian trails in the Rockport Township until 1809 when the State built a road from Cleveland to Rocky River. Because it eventually lead to Detroit, the road was called Detroit Road. George Peake and his family who moved to the area in 1809 are thought to have been the first to use the road.
Rockport Township was founded on February 24, 1819. It bordered on the North by Lake Erie, the East by Highland Road [later West 117th Street], on the South by Brookpark Road, and on the West by Clague Road. There were only eighteen families including those of Henry Alger, Daniel Harden, Henry Canfield, Chester Dean, John James, Charles Johnson, Datus Kelly, John Kidney, Charles Miles, Dyer Nichols, James Nicholson, John Pitts, Joseph Sizer, and Rufus Wright.
A petition, granted on March 5, 1900, established the township of West Park from a section of the old Rockport Township. The northern boundary extended north to the Lakewood city limits. The Rocky River became the western boundary although the eastern edge remained West 117th Street. The southern limit was Brookpark Road.
The area gained its name from the property of John M. West at the corner of what is today Lorain Avenue and West 140th Street. Mr. West had a home, that still stands although surrounded by houses, that was some distance from Lorain Street. He installed a lake and picnic facilities that were used by neighborhood residents. They began calling it "West's Park" which was eventually altered to "West Park" and applied to the entire area. (NOTE: Some reports hold that “Benjamin West” was the early settler who purchased the property later known as “West’s Park.” Records do not support this.)
The West Park area was annexed by the city of Cleveland in 1923 becoming Ward 33. It added 3,560 people, and area of 12 ½ square miles, with an overall value of $25,975,520.00.
The West Park community consists of four neighborhoods located west of West 117th Street that includes Jefferson, Kamm's Corners, Riverside and Puritas-Longmead. This work is primarily concerned with Kamm's Corners and parts of the Riverside and Jefferson areas. Many residents of this latter area feel that the term West Park applies only to that specific location.
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Charles C. Chaney