Growing up in Cleveland, I have often heard the saying that it is a “Melting Pot.” This brought me to wonder if any Ukrainians were involved in creating this melting pot, and I was very excited when I found out that they were.
Cleveland’s Polish immigrants began their immigration in the mid-19th century. They settled with the Czechs in what we now call Newburgh Heights and Slavic Village, in the area that was surrounding the Cuyahoga Valley. The St. Stanislaus Church was founded in 1888, and was a great influence on the community. Polish is still the language spoken in Slavic Village, as the people who live there celebrate their heritage each May Day and have a Harvest Festival in August.
The first Ukrainian immigrants to arrive in Cleveland arrived in the mid-1870s. The majority settled in the Tremont neighborhood. More recent immigrants have created a Ukrainian commune in Parma, which is to the south of Cleveland. This community has Ukrainian newspapers, radio programs, and a museum: The Ukrainian Museum on Kenilworth in Tremont. Since I missed the field trip, I think visiting this museum in the heart of a Ukrainian area would be a great opportunity. Churches in the area, such as Sts. Peter and Paul in Tremont as well as St. Josaphat in Parma hold services in Ukrainian.
Upon their arrival, the Ukrainian community life in Cleveland revolved solely around the church and fraternal unions. The largest of these organizations is the Ukrainian National Association, which began in 1902. They held their 100th convention in Cleveland, and presently have 14 branches. The community is clearly developing over time.
I found it thrilling that after learning so much about Ukraine this semester, I was fortunate enough to learn that Ukrainian-Americans first settled in the city that I grew up in the 1880s.