Cleveland was the original Metropolis. Literally. When Clevelanders Jerry Siegel (who came up with the idea for Superman) and Joe Shuster (who drew him) introduced Superman, the world’s first superhero walked the streets of their hometown, not the more auspicious-sounding fictitious city he lived in later.
More than 70 years have passed since Jerry Siegel hatched the idea for Superman in this house on Kimberley Avenue, and his creation has long had a life of its own, one far removed from its humble beginnings in a Jewish neighborhood of Cleveland. No one casually driving through Glenville would ever associate it with the Man Of Steel, but long before 10622 Kimberley Ave. was an actual, city-recognized landmark, it was a place Superman fans would visit to pay homage.
When the current owners, Jefferson and Hattie May Gray, bought the house in 1983, they knew nothing about its famous history until the city got in touch with them about making it a landmark in 1986. Twenty-five years later, the Grays have enthusiastically embraced it, decorating the house with Superman paraphernalia and devoting a room in what was once the attic—where Siegel liked to get away from his large family to write—to a sort of shrine to the superhero. If they’re home and not busy, they’ll sometimes give visitors a tour. (But fans should obviously keep in mind this is a private residence and not expect that when visiting.)
Although the house had been designated a landmark for some time, the Superman association didn’t really go beyond that. It just looked like a house that needed some work. Pop Pilgrims guest Michael Sangiacomo of the Cleveland Plain Dealer had long advocated for renovating the house, but it wasn’t until he took bestselling author Brad Meltzer to it that he found someone who could really help the cause. The two of them joined forces, and they eventually raised $111,000, which covered both the renovations and set aside money for future maintenance. The project was completed in 2009.
Now visitors—which the Grays say come by regularly, in one case in a giant tour bus—can check out the historical marker and see the house. They can also hop on Lois Lane (a.k.a. Parkwood) to see Joe Shuster’s house, located just a few blocks away. It’s difficult to miss; the house also has a giant Superman logo on its fence, along with some metal panels from the first Superman comic. The houses’ streets have also been named after Siegel and Shuster.
It’s here on Jerry Siegel Avenue (a.k.a. Kimberley Avenue) that Pop Pilgrims draws to a close after 12 cities and 36 locations. Thanks so much for watching.