Noble by the numbers

This map orients viewers to the communities listed in the table.

Weather-wise, Greater Cleveland seems to avoid the extremes other places endure. Though we sometimes experience weather-related problems, like short-term travel limitations or skies that remain gray for weeks on end, we are unlikely to experience a storm like Katrina, or Buffalo’s Blizzard of ‘22.

Despite our great weather, however, we are not immune to other forms of disaster, and the foreclosure crisis that underlaid the Great Recession of 2007–9 is among the worst we have experienced. Though the crisis affected the entire United States, some places, including Greater Cleveland, were hit harder, and within those places, some neighborhoods suffered more than others.

The Broadway-Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland was sometimes referred to as the epicenter of the crisis, but our neighbor, the city of East Cleveland, fared as poorly or worse. No community in Cleveland or its inner suburbs escaped, and in Cleveland Heights, the neighborhoods of the far north, "Greater Noble," seemed among the most affected. During the worst years, vacant properties, disrepair, and lawlessness proliferated. It could be argued that most homes in the northern neighborhoods had near-zero market value at the time, and the number of demolitions that took place over a few years gave the impression of a community being dismantled.

Perhaps surprisingly, and despite persistent challenges, CH's north side of today looks much better than the one of 10 years ago. There are many reasons, including overall improvement in the regional real-estate market, the waning of the foreclosure crisis, and the work and narrative-building of local institutions such as Noble Neighbors ( and Home Repair Resource Center ( Notably, Greater Noble experienced a slight increase in population between 2010 and 2020.

There are many ways to measure the impact of the foreclosure crisis on specific communities. One is to compare figures from the last three United States censuses—2000, 2010 and 2020. Places that were affected began to show population loss in the 2010 census, and other measures—for example, the number of housing units and the number of those that were occupied—are also useful. The table accompanying this article tracks these variables for Greater Noble, the entire city of Cleveland Heights, its neighboring municipalities, Slavic Village, and Lakewood.

This article’s definition of Greater Noble matches the area served by Noble Neighbors, which, per Brenda May, one of the organization’s founders and leaders, encompasses the five census tracts that touch Noble Road (tracts 1401, 1403.01, 1403.02, 1404 and 1405).

For Slavic Village, I looked at the census tracts that most closely match the boundaries of the city of Cleveland’s Broadway-Slavic Village statistical planning area, and, though the 2020 tract boundaries don’t precisely match those of the previous censuses, they are very close.

The numbers in the table, of course, were also affected by phenomena other than the foreclosure crisis, and there are other kinds of information that are useful in assessing the damage it caused. The as-of date for the 2020 census—April 1 of that year—fell at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; thus, the numbers do not provide insight into the effects of that crisis. A seeming oddity like Lakewood's significant population loss over the 20 years could possibly be partly explained by that city's rapid gentrification. Despite their limitations, the numbers have a lot to say.

The map shows Greater Noble outlined within Cleveland Heights and the city of East Cleveland immediately to its left. The highlighted Cleveland neighborhood is Slavic Village.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census is the source of the table information, which was drawn from the decennial censuses mentioned above. Except for Cleveland and Greater Noble, the places on the map are identified by their initials.

Vince Reddy

Recently retired from LAND studio, Vince Reddy is a 27-year resident of Cleveland Heights. He was the city's zoning administrator from 1996 to 2005.

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Volume 17, Issue 6, Posted 10:14 AM, 05.29.2024