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Roots Revealed Blog

What's in a Name? -- Tremont

Posted: 9/25/2013
Posted By: Doug Kusak - Cultural History Interpreter


Tremont's vibrancy is shared with its namesake school

Throughout your history, you’ve probably been called a variety of different names, ranging from what’s printed on your birth certificate to what your family and friends call you, to what you like to be called. You’re you, but you’re called something different by different people. The same can be said of certain neighborhoods.

Most Clevelanders of today know something about the Tremont neighborhood, but a Clevelander of just over 100 years ago would probably have no idea what you were talking about if you asked for directions to Tremont. That’s because it wasn’t there.

Early in Cleveland’s history, let’s say from the early to mid-1800s, most people purchasing land in the area were farmers and land speculators. What we now call Tremont was then farmland up the hill on the west side of the Cuyahoga River. Being on the west side of the river meant it wasn’t yet a part of Cleveland. It was in Brooklyn Township, in an area which later became part of Ohio City. However, seeing as it was at a higher elevation than Cleveland, as the area began to develop, it became known as Cleveland Heights.

Around 1850, some prominent Clevelanders purchased about 275 acres of farmland to establish Cleveland’s first institute of higher learning, Cleveland University. They platted out those distinguished-sounding street names we know today: Literary, Professor, College, and University. Cleveland University only lasted from 1851-1853, but its brief existence inspired people to call the area University Heights.

During the Civil War, the Tremont area was home to Camp Cleveland, the largest of Cleveland’s Civil War camps. Over 15,000 of the troops raised in Ohio trained at Camp Cleveland. In the years following the Civil War, the area became known as Lincoln Heights, and the large green space in the neighborhood was named Lincoln Park.

So, how did the neighborhood come to be known as Tremont? As industry grew in the Cuyahoga River valley through the mid-to-late 1800s and into the early 1900s, it required an immense workforce. Immigrants the world over moved to the area for the economic opportunities located within a short walking distance down the hill. All those people made a lot of kids. All those kids need to be educated. And that large need was satisfied by a large school: Tremont School, constructed in 1910.

It seems that Tremont wasn’t really referred to as Tremont until the 1910 construction of Tremont School. But in getting to that point, we’ve discovered that Cleveland Hts. and University Hts. were both originally on the west side.

And, just to add one more name to the mix, in my family (like many others) the Tremont neighborhood has always been known as the “South Side” (and the “h” in “South” is often silent).

Look for our Urban Explorations: Tremont tours, advertised in Cleveland Metroparks Emerald Necklace, or call Doug Kusak at CanalWay Center (216-206-1000) for information about scheduling a walking tour of Tremont for your group of 10 to 25 participants.

Doug Kusak - Cultural History Interpreter


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