Cleveland is the birthplace of Superman–as Ohio license plates might soon proclaim, if the Siegel and Shuster Society get their way.
The first superhero was concocted by two Jewish boys in Glenville:
“In 1933, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster dreamed up the comic strip hero with superpowers. Both boys were from immigrant Jewish families and lived down the street from each other in Glenville, then a booming, overwhelmingly Jewish, middle-class neighborhood, with kosher markets selling Yiddish newspapers on nearly every street corner. At the time, Cleveland was the fifth most populous American city, and a forward-thinking one at that, being the first to install public electricity and trolleys”
For too long, people tried to restore Siegel’s childhood home and make it into a landmark or tourist destination. It was not easy:
In his will, Siegel asked that half of his ashes be donated to the city of Cleveland; his widow also wanted to donate some of his belongings to the city, such as his typewriter. She visited Cleveland to find a home for them, and [Michael] Sangiacomo escorted her around town. “Nobody wanted them,” he remembers. “It was a low point. I felt horrible for her and mad at the city.”
But some grassroots efforts by comics lovers finally helped raise momentum for restoring Siegel’s former house. The longtime owners of the house agreed to renovations. And then the block on which it stands, having seen better days, was also improved:
The city finally took notice. [Neighborhood advocate] Tracey Kirksey had been trying, like Sangiacomo, to have the city tear down abandoned houses, ‘but it never seemed to be a priority.’ With the Siegel house restored, the city has now demolished seven houses on Kimberly Avenue, Kirksey says, and is now looking to “green-up the lots and replace those houses with new developments.”