Old World Plaza, Cleveland & Euclid, Ohio
Lying along the East 185th Street corridor that serves as a seam between the abutting cities of Cleveland and Euclid, Ohio, is Old World Plaza — an aging and eclectic mix of neighborhood bars, eateries and assorted retail shops.
Old World Plaza begins a few blocks north of East 185th Street’s passage beneath Interstate 90, and continues due north several miles, to the roadway’s termination at Lake Erie between St. Joseph-Villa Angela High School and The Cleveland Clinic system’s Euclid Hospital. Along the way, it passes pizza parlors, clothing stores, banks, bowling alleys, ice cream stands, auto dealers, a now-vacant movie theater, a travel agency specializing in sojourns to Eastern Europe, and many other small mom-and-pop businesses.
Residential areas of Cleveland and Euclid extend east-west from Old World Plaza along grids of myriad narrow and treed streets. Sprinkled throughout are vintage cars, picket fences, American flags, and well-tended gardens. Homes ranging from small bungalows to multi-story duplexes to larger apartment buildings, each typically with its own driveway, detached garage and small lawn, house the area’s diverse humanity. Annually, that population enjoys the Old World Festival — a sidewalk-sale sort of celebration featuring ethnic foods, music, household goods and trinkets of wide variety.
The Plaza is a lasting tribute to Euclid’s rich immigrant heritage. Originally incorporated in 1931, Euclid grew substantially through the post-World War II era both as a community of moderately priced housing for successive waves of Irish, Slovaks, Italians, Bohemians and Poles, and as a getaway of tree-lined streets and beachfront enclaves. The city has long been home to a Polka Hall of Fame. Several blocks from East 185th long resided Cleveland’s only Lithuanian-language Catholic congregation. Today, the community is host to ethnic minorities of Central America, Asia and Africa as well.