Then and Now: East 4th St.
Can you picture today's hot spot as it once was?
East 4th St. in Downtown Cleveland is known as a bustling dining and entertainment scene with twinkling lights hanging from the rooftops. It’s located in the heart of the city, nestled between Euclid Ave. and Prospect Ave. in the historic Gateway District. It has served as the iconic backdrop captured by nearly every Clevelander celebrating special moments ranging from championship victories, weddings and epic nights out on the town (we're totally guilty of selfie-snapping on this street, too).
Although East 4th St. has been an entertainment scene for most of its recent past, it wasn’t always lined with dazzling lights or well-known restaurants. The colorful street has a rich history dating back to the late 19th century.
At the start of its history, the East 4th corridor was called Sheriff St. and lined with elm trees and apartment buildings, giving it a New York City vibe. As the 19th century came to a close, the street shifted from a residential area to a commercial center as businesses opened on the first floor levels of the residential buildings.
One landmark business that dominated the street was the nationally-recognized Euclid Avenue Opera House, Cleveland’s most prominent theater from 1875–1922. Businesses such as the Krause Costume Company, a Sol Bergman’s jewelry store, and many restaurants, including the original Otto Moser’s, were built to complement the theater and add dimension to the street.
With the rise of Playhouse Square and a devastating fire, the opera house was converted into S.S. Kresge’s department store and competing ventures such as Woolworth’s and McCrory’s planted roots in the East 4th district shortly after.
Over time, the downtown retail boom declined and the street started to become bare. The future of East 4th St. was unknown and was proposed for demolition in 1988.
In 2002, East 4th St. was revived with the opening of Pickwick and Frolic Restaurant and Comedy Club. Nick Kostis, the owner of Pickwick and Frolic Restaurant, had a vision for the street. He wanted it to be a lively, vibrant neighborhood filled with residential apartments, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. Little did he know, that’s exactly what it would become a few years later.
Today, East 4th St. is filled with more than 13 restaurants and bars, a comedy club, a bowling alley, a coffee shop and six residential buildings. In addition, it’s home to Cleveland icons including the House of Blues, Lola Bistro and Mabel’s BBQ owned by celebrity chef Michael Symon, and the CLE Clothing Co., where Clevelanders can buy gear to represent their passion for The Land. With an abundance of bars and restaurants, it quickly becomes a hot spot for a happy hour with co-workers or the place to celebrate a walk-off Indians win.
What else is there to say about one of the most popular spots in the heart of town? Visit East 4th St. and let it speak for itself.