Where the Streets Once Had Some Names: Great Lakes Streets


Traveling around Cleveland, do you ever wonder what the numbered streets used to be named? Or do you ponder how some of our current streets earned their names? 

In 1906, as newcomers poured into Cleveland and the city continued to grow rapidly, the City Council adopted a numerical system for streets, changing many street names that had had decades of history and stories behind them. The council enumerated the north/south streets that emanated eastward and westward out from Public Square.

Well, the Teaching Cleveland team did some research, and each month during this academic year, we’ll provide some information that you may not have known. We’re here all year to give you some street cred!

The Striebinger House, owned by the Striebinger brothers, located on Michigan Street in 1874. The structure was a large retail and entertainment facility, offering groceries, men’s clothing, hot and cold baths, billiards, flour, feed, hay, and straw. There is a separate entrance for “ladies.” (Photo courtesy Cleveland Memory)

The Great Lakes Streets

Perhaps you may be familiar with some Cleveland streets named after the five Great Lakes. After all, if this is a place you call HOMES (see what we did there?), some are easy to identify. Some of you may know the acronym – HOMES – which stands for lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.

Today we still have three that we can identify pretty easily:

  • Huron road runs from Playhouse Square at East 13th – there known as Huron Road East – with a slight jog on Prospect at East 9th, across the front of Rocket Mortgage Field House, through Ontario, where it becomes Huron Road West. It ends at Superior and West 9th Street.

  • Ontario Street runs north-south. Starting at its northernmost point at West Lakeside Avenue, it runs through Public Square and south past Progressive Field, becoming Orange Avenue at East 9th Street

  • Superior Avenue runs east-west, starting in the west at the end of the Detroit/Superior bridge, going through Public Square, and out east as far as Mayfield Road, where in Cleveland Heights it becomes Superior Road and finally dead-ends at Washington Boulevard.

So what happened to Michigan and Erie streets? Well, Erie Street is now East 9th Street. Up until about five years ago, there used to be an Old Erie Street Bookstore just north of Progressive Field near the bars at East 9th. 

And for all you Michigan-haters out there – maybe the fact that there is no Michigan Avenue today is so satisfying, as the kids say nowadays. At one time there was a Michigan Avenue, and it was basically located behind the Terminal Tower complex today. It began south and west of Public Square at Ontario Street and ran west and north to West Superior, ending at about where West Third Street is today. When the Terminal Tower project underwent construction in the late 1920s, Michigan Avenue was wiped away from the Cleveland landscape, along with hundreds of buildings. And for all you Buckeye fans around town, maybe that was all just for the better.

A map of the current area where Michigan Street once ran.



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