return to Home page Bernstein's Elbow  

Harry Bernstein (1856 - 1920) was in his day (1880 to about 1905) one of Cleveland's most effective ward bosses, delivering the immigrant vote to the Republicans. He also served one term (1903-05) representing Ward 4 on City Council.

He was an immigrant himself, having been come here from Russia-Poland in 1868, only 12 years old. He was able to bring his parents over a few years later. Educated in the public schools, he was 25 and wise in the ways of the city, when the great wave of Jewish immigration began in 1881. "Czar Bernstein", as he was often called, was also an entrepreneur. He owned a saloon, Yiddish theaters, a hotel and more.

A tabloid-style story of his life, written when he had suffered terrible financial losses, was in the Magazine section of the Sunday April 21, 1907 Cleveland Plain Dealer. The title: The Rise and Fall of Czar Bernstein. [read the story on our pages

Bernstein's political power waned early in the 20th century as Italian immigrants moved into his ward and Jewish voters moved steadily east and out. His funeral in 1920 was attended by 900 persons and he was praised for his many good works.

Bernstein's Elbow    looking south   photo taken 1930
Photo from Cleveland Memory at Cleveland State University. The Cleveland Press Collection

The above photo of Bernstein's Elbow is evidence of the influence of Republican ward leader "Czar" Harry Bernstein. During the 1890s a Cleveland street, not far from the industrialized river valley, was given two extra bends to avoid disturbing a  business he owned - probably the saloon in the upper left of the photo.

At the right, a segment of a 1900 map shows Bernstein's Elbow near the center. It was on what is now East 14th Street (until 1906 north-south streets had names, not numbers), south of Woodland Avenue and north of Orange Avenue.

Bernstein's Elbow is long gone, except in old maps, some books and this page.


Source: Cleveland Public Library's Image Collection.

Thanks to Bill Barrow (CSU) and Peggy Campbell for tracking down the location of the elbow.

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