LORAIN, Ohio (WJW)– The city of Lorain was once the center of Hispanic culture in our area. Now, there’s a new effort to preserve that history and share it with younger generations.
Eileen Torres holds fond memories of Vine Avenue, established as a result of discrimination and anchored by the steel mill.
“When I was growing up, it was a hub of activity,” Torres said. “The Mexican community started out as the predominate community. My grandfather came here in 1921 from Mexico, recruited to work at the steel mill.”
The Lorain Historical Society is trying to tell the story of Torres’ grandfather and thousands of other Latinos in a new exhibit, “Celebrating 100 Years: Latino History in Lorain.”
“The Latino Community was very underrepresented in what we had in our collection, in our story,” said Barbara Piscopo, executive director. Two years ago, she formed a collaboration with Oberlin College and El Centro, a nonprofit social services agency headed by Victor Leandry.
“Our dreams are big. We want to in the future have a place where we can exhibit and display the history, so this is one of the steps to get there,” Leandry said.
In 1947, U.S. Steel was looking for laborers after World War II. They hired 500 Puerto Rican men and the population has only grown.
“We’re considered a predominant Puerto Rican community. We make 30 percent of the city, is Latino and 40 percent of the school system is Latinos,” Leandry said.