Columbus History: East Long Street in 1933

Example of an Eastgate home at 320 Sherborne Drive.

Almost a century ago, OSU student Andrew Barta detailed the segregated East Long Street District in a sociological survey. Barta takes the reader on an imaginary walk starting in the adjacent white neighborhood. Once crossing Greenway Avenue, which apparently functioned as the barrier between the white and African American sections, the houses were less stately and closer together. Some needed paint, although the lawns and homes were still well-tended. South of Greenway was a wealthy, white-only district (known as Eastgate), where the property owners had an agreement not to sell any homes to non-Caucasian people.

From the Bad Lands to East Long Street, African-Americans Were Mobile

Barta mentions that typically, all-Black districts were transitional areas with whites moving out as Black people moved in, resulting in a lowering of property values and the subsequent “neglect of premises.” In this case, however, the East Long Street district was newly built, partially due to the migration of African Americans from the South who possessed trade skills. The former all-black district, which stretched from “Naughten to Third and to Fourth Streets,” became mostly industrial, with “few, if any, residents” left after previously being labeled “the bad lands.” Going east of this area on the imaginary walk takes the reader to an area with dilapidated old brick and frame rowhouses with sagging porches and badly maintained sidewalks that is–surprisingly–a white area, full of Irish and Italian residents who moved there to be near industry.

This area is in present-day Milo-Grogan. Barta explained that Black residents were forced to spread north and west due to a lack of space elsewhere, which caused a large demographic shift north of Grove Avenue and east of Cleveland Avenue, which is the area now known as Milo-Grogan. According to the author, five or six years prior (1927/28) there were no African-Americans in that area.

Barta also included a list of the types of businesses that were owned and operated by African Americans in the East Long Street district. Despite their oppression, African Americans owned a diverse range of businesses, from insurance companies to photographers to beer gardens, among many others:

  1. Auto re