Neighborhoods They Settled In: Central, Collinwood, Mount Pleasant, University Circle/Little Italy, Clark/Fulton, Detroit Shoreway, Industrial Valley, Old Brooklyn, Stockyards.
First Immigrants 1860's
By 1870 there were 35 native Italians in Cleveland who settled in the Ontario Street market district. Most found employment in the marble works on Mayfield Road. It was here that the Italians started their first colony called “Little Italy”, located at Mayfield and Murray Hill Roads. There was also Big Italy, located along Woodland and Orange Avenues from E. 9th to E. 40th. At E. 107th and Cedar Avenue a community grew around St. Marian Church. On the west side there were two settlements, one near Clark and Fulton Avenues (St. Rocco's Church) and one on Detroit near W. 65th Street (Our Lady of Mount Carmel). Another community was eventually formed by people moving out of Big Italy to the Woodland and E. 116th St. area. Another large population of Italians can be found in the Village of Cuyahoga Heights and the Warner Road area.
Most of the Italian immigrants who came after the turn of the century worked on bridges, sewers and streetcar tracks. Big Italy was located close to the markets and became the center of the fruit industry. In Little Italy, the occupations were tailoring, monument work, and gardening.
The Italians created the "Hometown society". This was a way for them to meet and talk about family and their Italian Village. Some of these societies were the Ripalimosani Social Union, Fraterna Sant'Agata, Matrice Club, Trentina Club, Toscana Club and Noicattarese Club.
St. Anthony - founded 1887 - serving Big Italy
Holy Redeemer built in 1924 at 15712 Kipling Ave. - serving Collinwood
Holy Rosary built in 1892 at E. 121st St. and Mayfield Road (serving Little Italy)
St. Marian built 1905 at 2208 Petrarca Ave.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel built in 1936 at Mt. Carmel and Notre Dame Avenues
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel built in 1926 at 6928 Detroit Avenue
St. Rocco built in 1922 at 3505 Fulton Road
After World War II, Italians moved to the suburbs. The east side Italians moved out to Mayfield Heights and Lyndhurst and the west side Italians moved to Parma.
1942 Report by the WPA:
Like the Slovaks, many of the early Italian immigrants came to work in America for a short time and then returned to their families in Italy. Large groups of Italians first came to Cleveland during the 1880s. These people were from Genoa. One of the earliest settlers was Frank Catalano the leader of a fishing colony in Sicily. He heard of good wages and decided about 1870 to come to the new world. After a while, many of the men returned to Italy and brought their families with them back to Cleveland. Catalano by 1880 was able to found a wholesale fruit importing company at 839 Woodland Avenue.
The first Italian settlement in Cleveland was in the vicinity of Orange and Ontario Streets or what is now known as the Haymarket District. When electric cars provided easy means of transportation the settlement spread eastward along Woodland Avenue to E. 40th. The neighborhood was called Big Italy. The early settlers of Big Italy established their own church in 1887. It was named St. Anthony of Padua Church. This was the first Italian Roman Catholic Church in Cleveland. It was first located in what had been a blacksmith shop opposite the Erie Street Cemetery and later it moved to its present location at 1267 Central Avenue. A new building was constructed in 1904. It began to dwindle in population and merged with another parish in 1938. The former St. Anthony of Padua building is now used by Syrians and is called St. Maron’s Church.
The second Italian settlement in Cleveland is called Little Italy. It is found between E. 119 and E. 125th Streets on Murray Hill and Mayfield Roads. Little Italy is the mother colony of the Woodhill and Collinwood settlements. The west side communities and the Miles Avenue neighborhood are outgrowths of Big Italy. These smaller Italian settlements include an area in the vicinity of W. 33rd and Fulton, one in the region of W. 65th and W. 69th Streets from Detroit north to Lake Erie, another north of Miles Avenue off Broadway, one in the vicinity of Elizabeth Avenue and E. 93rd, and one at Cannon and E. 86th Streets. One more is located on St. Clair Avenue near E. 152nd. This one is usually called the Collinwood Settlement of the Five Points Neighborhood.