WELCOME TO OLD BROOKLYN
By Adam Scraga and Sara Liptak
Old Brooklyn is a West Side neighborhood of Cleveland approximately five miles south of Downtown and is home to roughly
32,000 residents.In the late 1800s, Old Brooklyn was among the first areas in the Midwest to use greenhouses to grow vegetables, and by the 1920s, the neighborhood was one of the nation’s leading producers of greenhouse vegetables.Between 1920 and 1960, Old Brooklyn was at its peak creating shopping districts along Pearl, Broadview and State Roads, all major commercial-driving areas. Home to the original Honey Hut ice cream shop, which was founded in 1974 and now has five locations in Northeast Ohio, this shop is a main attraction to residents of the neighborhood and local surrounding areas.Brookside Reservation, located in the southwestern part of Cleveland at Fulton Road and Denison Avenue, is one of the city’s oldest municipal parks. Originally named Brooklyn Park in the late 1800s, it features a variety of recreational activities. The 135-acre park includes baseball and soccer fields, paths and wildlife.Harmody Park on Mayview Avenue also includes baseball fields, tennis courts, bike trails and connects to the Towpath Trail.Old Brooklyn is also home to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which was established in 1908. Housing values in Old Brooklyn remain among the highest in Cleveland.South of Tremont, Old Brooklyn’s neighborhood boasts beautiful homes, high-performing schools and award-winning businesses and parks. Businesses in the neighborhood benefit from location as well as affordable space.Old Brooklyn encompasses all of Cleveland’s Ward 13 and the southwestern portion of Ward 12. From the 2010 census, 82 percent are white, 8 percent are black, 1 percent are Asian, 5 percent “other,” 3 percent two races and 0.3 percent American Indian. The total Latino population is 4,414 and non-Latino population is 27,595. Old Brooklyn has the largest senior population among other Cleveland neighborhoods and is the largest growing in black and Hispanic residents.
Old Brooklyn is diverse and multi-generational. According to the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (CDC) 2015 annual report, the neighborhood is a great place to grow and a place where people have established roots.
The CDC has completed a strategic plan. Created in partnership with more than 1,000 stakeholders, Old Brooklyn 2020 (OB2020) is a five-year organizational plan that will guide its efforts. Objectives in OB2020 include fostering a healthy community, leading development for business and people to grow, increasing awareness of the neighborhood and ensuring that Old Brooklyn’s CDC is a strong, responsive community backbone.
Pearl Road Streetscape
By Adam Scraga
With many commercial businesses, Pearl Road is one of the main arteries through Old Brooklyn and takes many visitors to the Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo. Thanks to $10 million in funding, Pearl Road is not only being renovated, it will receive a planned streetscape that will include a public art display.
The $10 million will come from the City of Cleveland, the Ohio Public Works Commission and the Ohio Department of
New sidewalks, trees and amenities including benches, bike racks, trash receptacles and flowers will be added to the Pearl Road streetscape, which will be between Wildlife Way, the street where visitors enter the zoo, and State Road.
LAND Studio, based in Cleveland, is coordinating a public art program featuring an artist whose work will be displayed there.
The winning artist is Melissa Daubert of Cleveland. “The winning concept was to attach these vegetables made out of synthetic material and hang them on light poles throughout the neighborhood,” says Vince Reddy, project manager at LAND studio.
“The thinking behind it is that it reflects back on the neighborhood’s history, when it once had over 100 acres of greenhouses,” he adds. “It makes reference to a piece of neighborhood history a lot of people don’t think about.”
The artwork should be displayed by fall 2016 if Cleveland Public Power approves hanging the vegetables on light poles. If it does not, Reddy says they will need a new location to hang them, but says he thinks the art display will be completed by the end of the year.
The overall rehabilitation of Pearl Road will span 2.95 miles, from the West 25th Street entrance to Interstate-71 to Brookpark Road.
“An analysis of the road’s pavement condition indicated it was in fair to poor condition,” explains Daniel Ball, assistant director of media relations for the City of Cleveland. “A traffic study indicated the lane configuration could be reconfigured to improve the road’s level of service. Given this information, funding was applied for to rehabilitate the road.”
Officials submitted the grant application in 2013 and designs received approval in 2014.
Even though the streetscape will not cover all of the reconstructed Pearl Road, construction will benefit pedestrians in the area. “Since 2012, every street that gets resurfaced or reconstructed in Cleveland must adhere to a law known as the ‘complete and green streets ordinance,’” Ball notes. “The ordinance requires implementation of sustainable policies and guidelines in all construction projects within the public right of way.”
The entire 2.95 miles will be repaved and restriped, sidewalks widened, and bike lanes added where possible. Crosswalks will also be made ADA-accessible by adding curb ramps.
Jeff Verespej, executive director of the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, says the restoration of Pearl Road will also bring new businesses and economic growth to the area. Verespej notes that the private sector has already invested millions of dollars into Old Brooklyn after officials announced the road restoration.
Construction, under the direction of Perk Co., Inc. began in February 2016 and should be completed in December 2017.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
By Sara Liptak
Home to one of the most family-friendly attractions in the city, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo lets Clevelanders and visitors alike observe wildlife in numerous animal exhibits.
“Last year , we had 503,649 [visitors] in the months of June, July and August,” explains Rick Haase, director of communications for Cleveland Metroparks.
The latest exhibit to open at the zoo is a $5.1 million tiger exhibit, which is five times the size of the former tiger exhibit.
“Rosebrough Tiger passage is our first new exhibit at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo since 2011,” Haase notes. “It will house our Siberian Amur tigers. It is an enhancement that will feature lots of glass.”
Haase says the exhibit will give visitors an improved experience and allow them to have a closer look at the animals. The structure of the exhibit allows the animals to cross above visiting patrons.
And it brings a little bit of the Old Brooklyn community to the tigers. Jeff Verespej, executive director of Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, explains that old utility and telephone poles recycled from the neighborhood are climbing toys for the tigers.
“We knew about the new exhibit coming, and the neighborhood had a lot of old, but good [utility] poles left over from the Pearl Road construction,” he says. “So we decided to give them to the zoo for the tigers.”
Verespej says Christopher Kuhar, Ph.D., the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s executive director, spent five years in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. His visit had an influence on Cleveland’s zoo, which he’s been able to help develop into the exciting experience that it gives visitors today.
“While there, I focused on behavior research as well as the evaluation of conservation programs and the interface between the animal experience and business metrics,” Kuhar notes.
“Cleveland Metroparks Zoo already had a very successful animal behavior research program,” he adds. “I’ve tried to bring the program evaluation piece to Cleveland, and we have put a great deal of effort into evaluating the impact of our conservation education programs and our field conservation programs.”
Haase adds that visiting the zoo is fun and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is one of the leading zoos in the county with amenities and activities for people of all ages.
In 1882, The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo began as Wade Park near Wade Oval in Cleveland’s University Circle. In 1907, Cleveland City Council made plans to build the Cleveland Museum of Art and also move the zoo to its current location in Old Brooklyn.
The animals were mainly of local origin. The Cleveland Natural History Museum assumed control in 1940, when the zoo established the Monkey Island and Sea Lion Pools.
In 1968, the City of Cleveland transferred ownership of the zoo to the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District and in 1975, the Cleveland Zoological Society transferred management of the zoo to Cleveland Metroparks, which continues to manage it today.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open seven days a week between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The cost of admission for adults is $14.25; seniors (62 and older), $12.25; juniors, between the ages of 2 and 11, $10.25; and anyone under the age of 2 is free.
On Mondays, the zoo, not including the RainForest, is free to residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township.
The Zoo is located at 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109.