History of Cleveland

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This article chronicles the history of Cleveland, Ohio.


At the end of the last glacial period, which ended about 15,000 years ago at the southern edge of Lake Erie, there was a tundra landscape.[1] It took about two and a half millennia to turn this wet and cold landscape drier and warmer, so that caribou, moose, deer, wolves, bears and cougars were prevalent.

The oldest human, paleo-Indian traces reach back as far as 10500 BC. There was an early settlement in Medina County, dated between 9200 and 8850 BC. Some tools consisted of flint from Indiana.

Rising temperatures at about 7500 BC led to a stable phase between 7000 and 4500 BC which had similar characteristics to today's climate. Population grew, and these members of the so-called Early Archaic Culture lived in large families along the rivers and the shores of the lakes. During the warm seasons they met for hunting and gathering. The technology of tools improved but flint was still an important resource in that regard. Important archaeological sites are old Lake Abraham bog as well as sites on Big Creek, Cahoon, Mill and Tinker's Creek. There was a larger settlement where Hilliard Boulevard crosses the Rocky River.

Population density further increased during the Middle Archaic period (4500-2000 BC). Ground and polished stone tools and ornaments, and a variety of specialized chipped-stone notched points and knives, scrapers and drills were found on sites at Cuyahoga, Rocky River, Chippewa Creek, Tinker's, and Griswold Creek.

The Late Archaic period (2000 to 500 BC) coincided with a much warmer climate than today. For the first time evidence for regionally specific territories occurs, as well as limited gardening of squash, which later became very important. A long distance trade of raw materials and finished artifacts with coastal areas, objects which were used in ceremonies and burials. The largest graveyard known is at the junction of the East and West branches of the Rocky River. Differences in status are revealed by the objects which accompanied the dead, like zoo- and anthropomorphic objects or atlatls.

The following Early Woodland (500 BC – AD 100) and Middle Woodland (AD 100 – 700) is a period of increased ceremonial exchange and sophisticated rituals. Crude but elaborately decorated pottery appears. Squash becomes more important, maize occurs for ritual procedures. The first Mounds were erected, buildings for which Ohio is world-famous. The mound at Eagle St. Cemetery belongs to the Adena culture. Further mounds were found in the east of Tinker's Creek. Horticulture becomes even more important, the same with maize. The huge mounds concentrate much more in southern Ohio, but they were also found in northern Summit County. Some Hopewellian projectile points, flint-blade knives, and ceramics were found in the area of Cleveland itself. One mound, south of Brecksville, contained a cache of trade goods within a 6-sided stone crypt. A smaller mound between Willowick and Eastlake contained several ceremonial spear points of chert from Illinois - altogether signs of a wide range of trade. At Cleveland's W. 54th St. Division waterworks there was probably a mound and a Hopewellian spear tip was found there.

After AD 400 maize dominated. Mounds were built no more, but the number of different groups increased, with winter villages at the Cuyahoga, Rocky and Lower Chagrin Rivers. Small, circular houses contained one or two fire hearths and storage pits. Tools and ornaments made of antler and bone were found. During the spring, people lived camps along the lakeshore ridges, along ponds and bogs, or headwaters of creeks, where they collected plants and fished.

Between AD 1000 and 1200 oval houses with single-post constructions dominated the summer villages, the emphasis on burial ceremony declined, but became more personal and consisted of ornaments, or personal tools.

From 1200 to 1600 Meso-American influence mediated by the Mississippian culture could be traced, in Cleveland in new ceramic and house styles, new crops (common beans), and the presence of materials traded from southern centers. This influence was even stronger within the Fr. Ancient group, probably ancestors of later Shawnees. At this time, there was an obvious difference in archaeological findings from the areas of Black River, Sandusky River and Lake Erie Islands westwards on the one hand and Greater Cleveland eastwards on the other.

Between 1300 and 1500 agriculture became predominant, especially beans and new varieties of maize. Larger villages were inhabited in summer and fall. Small camps diminished and the villages became larger as well as the houses, which became rectangular. Some of the villages became real fortresses. During the later Whittlesey Tradition burial grounds were placed outside the villages, but still close to them. These villages were in use all year round.

The final Whittlesey Tradition, beginning at about 1500, shows long-houses, fortified villages, and sweat lodges can be traced. But the villages in and around Cleveland reported by Whittlesey, are gone. It was likely a warlike time, as the villages were even stronger fortified than before. Cases of traumatic injury, nutritional deficiency, and disease were also found. It is obvious that the population declined until about 1640. One reason is probably the little ice-age beginning at about 1500. The other reason is probably permanent warfare. It seems that the region of Cleveland was uninhabited between 1640 and 1740.

Survey and Founding of the City: 1796–1860[edit]

Moses Cleaveland statue on Public Square.

As one of thirty-six founders of the Connecticut Land Company, General Moses Cleaveland was selected as one of its seven directors and was subsequently sent out as the company's agent to map and survey the company's holdings. On July 22, 1796, Cleaveland and his surveyors arrived at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. Cleaveland quickly saw the land, which had previously belonged to Native Americans, as an ideal location for the "capital city" of the Connecticut Western Reserve. Cleaveland and his surveyors quickly began making plans for the new city. He paced out a nine-and-a-half-acre Public Square, similar to those in New England. His surveyors decided upon the name, Cleaveland, after their leader. In October, Cleaveland and his staff returned to Connecticut where he pursued his ambition in political, military, and law affairs, never once returning to the settlement he established.

Schoolteachers Job Phelps Stiles (born c. 1769 in Granville, Massachusetts) and his wife Talitha Cumi Elderkin (born 1779 in Hartford, Connecticut) were two of only three original settlers who stayed there over the first winter of 1796–1797 when, attended by Seneca Native American women, Talitha Cumi gave birth to Charles Phelps Stiles, the first white child born in the Western Reserve. They lived at first on Lot 53, the present corner of Superior Avenue and West 3rd Street adjacent to the Terminal Tower, but later moved southeast to higher ground in Newburgh, Ohio to escape malarial conditions in the lower Cuyahoga Valley.[2][3][4][5]

The village of Cleaveland was incorporated on December 23, 1814; one of its notable early citizens was Lorenzo Carter, who made Cleveland a solid source for trade. He also built a large log cabin for newcomers to settle in. The spelling of the city's name was changed in 1831 by The Cleveland Advertiser, an early city newspaper. In order for the name to fit on the newspaper's masthead, the first "a" was dropped, reducing the city's name to Cleveland.[6] The new spelling stuck, and long outlasted the Advertiser itself.

View in Main St., Cleveland, Ohio (circa 1856-1860) by John Warner Barber.

Though not initially apparent — the city was adjacent to swampy lowlands and the harsh winters did not encourage settlement — the location proved providential. The city began to grow rapidly after the completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal in 1832, turning the city into a key link between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, particularly once the city railroad links were added. In 1822, a young, charismatic lawyer and politician, John W. Willey came to Cleveland and quickly established himself within the city. He became a popular figure in local politics and wrote the Cleveland Municipal Charter as well as several of the city's original laws and ordinances. Willey was then elected the first mayor of Cleveland for two terms.

Possibly the oldest photograph of Public Square from 1857

With James Clark and several others, Willey bought a section of the Flats with plans to transform it into Cleveland Centre, a business and residential district. Willey then bought a piece of land from the southeast section of Ohio City across from Columbus Street in Cleveland. Willey named the new territory Willeyville and subsequently built a bridge connecting the two sections, calling it Columbus Street Bridge. The bridge siphoned off commercial traffic to Cleveland before it could reach Ohio City's mercantile district. This action aggravated citizens of Ohio City, and brought to the surface a fierce rivalry between the small city and Cleveland. Ohio City citizens rallied for "Two Bridges or None!". In October 1836, they violently sought to stop the use of Cleveland's new bridge by bombing the western end of it. However, the explosion caused little damage. A group of 1,000 Ohio City volunteers began digging deep ditches at both ends of the bridge, making it impossible for horses and wagons to reach the structure. Some citizens were still unsatisfied with this and took to using guns, crowbars, axes, and other weapons to finish off the bridge. They were then met by Willey and a group of armed Cleveland militiamen. A battle ensued on the bridge, with two men seriously wounded before the county sheriff arrived to end the violence and arrest many. A court injunction prevented further confrontations which may have led to an all out war between Cleveland and Ohio City. The two cities eventually made amends and Ohio City was annexed by Cleveland in 1854.

Map of Territorial Changes to the City of Cleveland

The Columbus bridge became an important asset for Cleveland, permitting produce to enter the city from the surrounding hinterlands and build the city's mercantile base. This was greatly increased with the coming of the Ohio & Erie Canal, which realized the city's potential as a major Great Lakes port. Later, as a halfway point for iron ore coming from Minnesota across the Great Lakes and for coal and other raw materials coming by rail from the south, the site flourished. Cleveland became one of the major manufacturing and population centers of the United States, and was home to numerous major steel firms.

By the end of the American Civil War, Cleveland was one of the five main oil refining centers in the U.S. (besides Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City, and the region in northwestern Pennsylvania where most of the oil originated). Standard Oil began as a partnership based in Cleveland, between John D. Rockefeller, William Rockefeller, Henry M. Flagler, and Samuel Andrews.

The Civil War years and the dawn of the Industrial Age: 1861–1900[edit]

Civil War[edit]

A photograph taken on Public Square of hundreds of Cleveland veterans from the American Civil War in 1865

Prior to the American Civil War, Clevelanders viewed the slaveholding South based on political affiliation. While a majority of Clevelanders tended to side with the abolitionist North, not all of them loathed slavery, nor were they all convinced that a civil war would resolve ideological differences between North and South. As election year approached and impending clouds of war loomed, rhetoric of Cleveland's local newspapers became increasingly divided. For example, The Cleveland Herald and Gazette and The Cleveland Leader, both largely Republican papers argued that southern actions had driven John Brown to raid Harpers Ferry on October 1859. The Plain Dealer, a largely Democratic publication blamed Brown and abolitionist Republicans for the raid.

When Abraham Lincoln won 58% of the vote in 9 of 11 wards for the presidency and as the secession crisis loomed closer, the partisan rhetoric of Cleveland newspapers became more and more aggressive. The Herald celebrated Lincoln's victory as one of right over wrong, of Unionists over secession-minded southern Democrats, while the Leader dismissed threats of the South's secession. The Plain Dealer, meanwhile argued that secession was imminent. When war finally did break out in April 1861, Cleveland Democrats and Republicans decided to end their dispute and united to form the Union party to support Lincoln's war effort. However, this coalition did not go untested.

The Civil War years brought an economic boom to Cleveland. The city was making the transition from a small town to an industrial giant. Railroad iron and gun-carriage axles were manufactured for military use. Due to the cutoff of Southern trade, Cleveland opened its first tobacco factory, T. Maxfield & Co., in 1862. The city's garment industry also began to prosper. The German Woolen Factory (also in 1862) became the first company to manufacture wool cloth in Cleveland. By 1865, its banks held $2.25 million in capital and $3.7 million in deposits. In 1863, 22% of all U.S. Naval crafts built for use on the Great Lakes were built in Cleveland. That figure increased by 1865 to 44%.

Civilian aid to the military centered around establishment and maintenance of the Soldiers' Aid Society of Northern Ohio (1861), the U.S. General Hospital (1862), Camp Taylor (1861), and Camp Cleveland (1862). Food, blankets, and reading material were provided by citizens to recruits at both military camps until government stores and equipment could be distributed.

When the war ended, Cleveland welcomed home troops after service in the field, treating them to a meal and a short welcoming ceremony on Public Square before they marched to Camp Cleveland for payment and discharge from the army. Those Clevelanders who died in the war were honored at Woodland Cemetery with the memorials commemorating the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

The issue of full emancipation still lingered about. The Herald and the Leader supported the proposed Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, commending Lincoln "for the stalwart blow he struck for freedom and for the peace and future tranquility of the Union." The Plain Dealer, on the other hand, argued that the only purpose of the war was to preserve the union and that making "citizens of the entire black population" would ultimately tarnish the white race.

Cleveland during the Gilded Age: 1865-1900[edit]

Birds-eye view of Cleveland in 1887

The Civil War vaulted Cleveland into the first rank of American manufacturing cities and fueled unprecedented growth. By 1870, the city's population had shot up to 92,829, more than doubling its 1860 population of 43,417. Many mansions were built along the city's more prominent streets, such as the Southworth House along Prospect Avenue, and those on Millionaire's Row, on Euclid Avenue. Yet the population growth also fostered the need for efficient police and fire protection, decent housing, public education, health services, transportation, and better roads and streets.

After the Civil War, political power shifted from Democrats to Republicans. The main architect of this conversion was industrialist Mark Hanna, who entered politics when he was elected to the Cleveland Board of Education around 1869 and became a political boss.[7]

Hanna was eventually challenged by Republican Robert E. McKisson, who became mayor in 1895 and launched the construction of a new city water and sewer system. Vehemently anti-Hanna, McKisson created a powerful political machine to vie for control of the local Republican party. He padded the payroll with his political cronies, expanded the activities of government, and called for city ownership of all utilities. After serving two terms, he was soundly defeated by an alliance of Democrats and Hanna Republicans. It was clear that the city's government needed reform.[8]

In 1897, Eliza Bryant founded the Cleveland Home of Aged Colored People (now Eliza Bryant Village), the oldest non-religious black institution in Ohio.[9]

The Roaring Twenties: 1901–1929[edit]

Cleveland mayor Tom L. Johnson addressing an outdoor meeting.
Belle Sherwin and Florence E. Allen at Woman suffrage headquarters, Upper Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, 1912
Hanna Building and Hanna Annex in Cleveland, Ohio from a 1921 postcard
The Terminal Tower under construction in 1927

Early in the 20th century, Cleveland was home to pioneer carmakers, including steam car builders White and Gaeth and electric car company Baker.

After a succession of lax Democrats, Hanna Republicans and McKisson's corrupt political machine, Cleveland voted for change, putting Democrat Tom L. Johnson into the mayor's office in 1901. Johnson led reforms for "home rule, three-cent fare, and just taxation". He initiated the Group Plan of 1903 as well as the Mall, the earliest and most complete civic-center plan for a major city outside of Washington, D.C. With cabinet members Newton D. Baker and Harris R. Cooley, Johnson also reformed and professionalized city hall.

Despite the efforts of Johnson and his Republican successor Herman C. Baehr, the city sought more freedom from most state-imposed restrictions of the management of its affairs. Johnson progressive Newton D. Baker was elected in 1911, pushed for home rule, and helped write the 1912, Ohio constitutional amendment giving municipalities the right to govern themselves. By campaigning for its passage in 1913, Baker became influential in selecting the commission to write Cleveland's first home rule charter. In 1916, Baker declined to run for a third term and instead returned to private practice of law. Baker was succeeded as mayor by Harry L. Davis. Davis established the Mayor's Advisory War Committee, formed 1917 to increase efficiency of money, time, and effort. He appointed the committee to plan ways in which Cleveland could assist with aiding the American effort in World War I. The effort gained national recognition. After the war ended in 1918, during the time of the Russian Revolution, there began a new threat – the First Red Scare. One of the great dilemmas faced by Davis was trying to restore order during the violent Cleveland May Day Riots of 1919. Faced with the issue of the riots and his own ambitions to become governor of Ohio, Davis resigned in May 1920 (he would later serve as a mayor again in 1933).

In 1920, Cleveland reached nationwide recognition as the fifth-largest city in the United States. In that same year, the Cleveland Indians defeated the Brooklyn Robins in the World Series. The 1920s were prosperous for the city.

The northward migration of musicians from New Orleans brought jazz to the city; new jazz talent also rose from Cleveland Central High School.

Immigrants, particularly from Eastern Europe began entering Cleveland. With more people, more jobs were needed, and the city's industry also began to see rapid growth. New and better structures began to arise in the city. William R. Hopkins, who became the city manager in 1924 oversaw the development of parks, the Cleveland Municipal Airport (later renamed Hopkins International Airport), and improved welfare institutions. In 1926, the Van Sweringen brothers, who had previously worked to improve Cleveland's trolley and rapid program, began construction of the great Terminal Tower in 1927. Until 1967, the tower was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City.

The Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting the sale and manufacturing of alcohol first took effect in Cleveland on May 27, 1919. However, it was not well-enforced. One policeman even said, "Hell, I'm not going to arrest nobody for doing what I like to do myself." Cleveland alcohol stocks declined when the Prohibition Bureau sent an administrator and federal agents as the amendment and the Volstead Act became law in January 1920. With prohibition, Cleveland, like other major American cities saw the development of organized crime. Little Italy's Mayfield Road Mob was notorious for smuggling bootleg alcohol out of Canada to Cleveland. The mob's members included Joe Lonardo, Nathan Weisenburg, the seven Porello brothers (four of whom were killed), Moses Donley, Paul Hackett, and J.J. Schleimer. These names and Milano, Furgus, and O'Boyle held the same connotation as Al Capone in Chicago. Speakeasies began appearing all over the city. An anti-Prohibition group found 2,545 such locations throughout Cleveland.

The Great Depression and revitalization: 1929–1961[edit]

Poverty-stricken Clevelanders are served fresh rolls and coffee by Mrs. Albert Schmidt (far right) during the Great Depression.

On October 24, 1929, the stock market crashed, plunging the entire nation into the Great Depression. If Prohibition had been unpopular in Cleveland in its early days, it was even more unpopular during the Depression. Tired of gang wars in Cleveland and Chicago, Fred G. Clark founded an anti-gang, anti-Prohibition group called the Crusaders. The group formed "battalions" of "militant young men" into chapters nationwide. Cleveland became their national headquarters, and by 1932 the Crusaders claimed one million members. The Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform was another group formed in Cleveland that also rose to prominence.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, Prohibition appeared to be near an end. Together, the Crusaders, the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, and the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform formed the Ohio Repeal Council, and Prohibition was finally repealed in Cleveland on December 23, 1933.

However, this solved the least of Cleveland's problems. Harry L. Davis, who had previously served as mayor, returned and was elected again. Davis exhibited increasing incompetence in office and the city became a haven for criminal activity. The police department was corrupt, prostitution and illegal gambling were rampant, and organized crime was still abundant.

In the next election, Davis was ousted from office and Harold H. Burton became the city's new mayor. Burton, a lawyer from New England, enjoyed Cleveland and wanted to see the city get back on its feet. He accomplished this with the help of his newly appointed Safety Director, Eliot Ness, who previously served as Chief Investigator of the Prohibition Bureau for Chicago and Ohio, and played an important role in putting Al Capone behind bars. Ness made a name for himself in Cleveland by first and foremost cleaning up the city's police department. He fired corrupt, incompetent and crooked cops from the force and replaced them with talented rookies and unrecognized veterans. He also orchestrated raids on such notorious gambling spots as The Harvard Club and The BlackHawk Inn. In addition, Ness instituted on-the-spot drunk-driving tests. Those failing the test would be arrested immediately. With Ness at the head of the city's Safety Directorate, crime plummeted 38% in a single year.

Despite these impressive achievements, Ness could not end the terror that came about due to the activities of the Cleveland Torso Murderer, who committed a series of murders in which victims were brutally dismembered, as if by a surgeon. Dr. Francis E. Sweeney, who Ness strongly suspected of being the murderer, committed himself to a psychiatric ward, and the official series of murders ceased just as they had mysteriously begun. The actual culprit was never identified, and some[who?] have referred to Ness as the 14th victim of the Torso Murderer for his failure to apprehend him.

Cleveland made a steady recovery during the Depression years and even served as a national attraction for the Republican National Convention. The June 1936 Great Lakes Exposition also attracted great attention. During its first season, it drew 4 million visitors; there were 7 million attendees by the end of the second, final season in September 1937. The exposition was housed on grounds that are now used by the Great Lakes Science Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Burke Lakefront Airport, among others.

Clevelanders celebrate the annual Festival of Freedom in June 1945.

Edward Blythin became mayor shortly after Burton resigned to assume a seat in the United States Senate. In 1942, Frank J. Lausche became the city's next mayor. Lausche, Cleveland's first mayor of Eastern European descent, was notable for organizing the Cleveland Transit System as well as overseeing the city's development during World War II and making plans for after the war with his Post War Planning Council.

Lausche went on to become the governor of Ohio, and the time came for a new mayor to take the reins of the city. Thomas A. Burke won a first term in office in the 1945 mayoral election. In the 1947 election, Burke found himself running against Eliot Ness, who left Cleveland during the war to become director of the Division of Social Protection of the Federal Security Agency. Burke defeated Ness in the election, but some historians believe that Ness would have won had he run six years earlier against Frank Lausche. At that time, Ness was at the peak of his popularity in Cleveland.

Cleveland's post-war period saw the city's greatest successes in sports with the Cleveland Indians winning the World Series in 1948 and the Cleveland Browns dominating the NFL from 1950 to 1956. In 1949, Cleveland was named an All-America City for the first time. In 1950, the city's population had grown to 914,808, the largest in its history. Cleveland was also advertised as the "best location in the nation" by many businessmen who felt the city's new growth brought more potential, using the slogan originated from the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (today part of FirstEnergy) in a campaign that ran from 1944 to 1974.[10][11][12]

Burke's greatest achievement as mayor was his large capital-improvement program that included the establishment of the Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport. In 1954, progressive Democrat Anthony J. Celebrezze succeeded Burke. Celebrezze wanted to promote the city as a world trade center and did so by establishing the Cleveland Seaport Foundation. He was so popular with the voters that he served an unprecedented five terms before he retired to work as the United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Recent history: 1962–present[edit]

Turbulent era[edit]

Ralph S. Locher became Celebrezze's successor in 1962. Although Locher made some progress such as helping expand Hopkins Airport, his tenure was strained by the racial turmoil the city faced during the decade. It was the Hough Riots of 1966 that culminated the city's racial unrest. Four were killed; several injured and about 240 fires were reported. This and other city problems led to the gradual suburbanization of Cleveland residents. Locher was becoming less and less popular and lost the 1967 mayoral primary to Democrat Carl B. Stokes. Stokes went on to face Republican Seth Taft and won the election, becoming the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city, attracting national attention.

As mayor, Stokes began initiating reforms to boost the city's economy and aid its poverty-stricken areas. He first persuaded the Department of Housing and Urban Development to release urban renewal funds frozen under Locher. He persuaded city council to pass the Equal Employment Opportunity Ordinance and to increase the city's income tax from .5% to 1%. Stokes also launched Cleveland: Now!, a program aimed at rehabilitating the city. This program was highly successful. However, during the period after the Glenville Shootout, it was discovered that Fred (Ahmed) Evans and his black militant group who had initiated the chaos received money from Cleveland: Now!, putting Stokes in a bad position. It was because of this incident and controversy surrounding an idea to build public housing in the Lee-Seville area, that lead Stokes to decline from running for a third term.

Ralph J. Perk became the city's next mayor, the first Republican to serve since Edward Blythin. Perk's political affiliation lead to good connections with President Richard Nixon. He obtained federal funds to help aid the Cleveland economy and a grant of $22 million to help crack down on city crime. Perk also had a reputation for being tough on labor unions. Perk also became a source of ridicule due to an incident in which his hair caught on fire, and his wife, Lucille, famously refused a dinner invitation from Pat Nixon for her "bowling night." However, Perk could not create any long-term solutions to help the city's economy and lost the 1977 nonpartisan primary.

The Kucinich administration[edit]

Dennis J. Kucinich went on to win both the primary and the general elections. Kucinich was 31 when he was elected mayor, becoming the youngest mayor of a major city in the United States.

Kucinich's time as mayor began with one of the worst blizzards in Cleveland history on January 26, 1978, with winds up to 100 miles an hour. In March, Kucinich suspended his newly appointed police chief, Richard D. Hongisto. The feud later erupted into a heated debate between the two on live local television, ending with Hongisto being fired. With this move, voters felt that the "boy mayor" was not fit to govern the city. A successful recall drive with petitions of some 50,000 signatures led to the first recall election in the city's history. Kucinich was nearly ousted from his position, but narrowly won with 236 votes.

Part of Kucinich's promise to the city was to cancel the sale of the publicly owned electric company, Municipal Light, to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI), a private electric company. The sale was initiated by Perk, but when Kucinich came to office, that all changed.

When he cancelled the sale, CEI went to a United States federal court to demand that Muny Light pay $14 million in damages for the power it had purchased and to get an order attaching city equipment. Quickly, Kucinich attempted to pay the bill by cutting city spending. However, The Cleveland Trust Company, then Ohio's largest bank, told him that they would not renew the city's credit on $14,000,000 (USD) of loans taken out by the previous administration unless Kucinich would agree to sell. As it happened, Kucinich did not sell and at midnight on December 15, 1978, Cleveland Trust made Cleveland the first major American city since the Great Depression to default on its financial obligations.

With the CEI-Muny Light incident, the humorous situations surrounding Ralph Perk, and a 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River where the oil and waste on the river's surface caught on fire, national media began referring to Cleveland as "the mistake on the lake". The city has struggled to shed this nickname ever since, though in recent times the national media have been much kinder to the city. Kucinich's popularity plummeted to an all-time low. In the 1979 mayoral election, he came in second in the mayoral primaries, only to be defeated by Republican George V. Voinovich.

"The Comeback City"[edit]

Cleveland's current skyline as seen from the Flats.

Voinovich brought the city out of its major economic problems, bringing about a downtown revitalization and urban renaissance. He oversaw the construction of Richard and David Jacobs' Key Tower, which surpassed the previous Terminal Tower in height as well as the Sohio (BP) Building, becoming the largest building in the city and state. By 1986, Cleveland was not only out of default but was named an All-America City for a second, third, and fourth time. Voinovich then made a successful run for the governorship of Ohio. Voinovich's successor was another progressive figure in Cleveland politics and the second African American to become mayor, Michael R. White. Redevelopment within the city limits under White was strongest in the downtown area near the Gateway complex—consisting of Jacobs Field and Gund Arena—and near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Cleveland Browns Stadium. White's tenure as mayor was arguably the longest. In 2001, he declined from running for a fourth term and retired to an alpaca farm near Newcomerstown, Ohio. Four years later, it was revealed that despite the strides White made in office, he may have accepted bribes from one of his associates, Nate Gray, in exchange for construction and parking contracts. He is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors.

In 2002, Jane L. Campbell was elected the city's first female mayor. Campbell had a relatively lackluster tenure as mayor. In the November 8, 2005 general mayoral election, Campbell lost to Cleveland City Council president, Frank G. Jackson. Jackson received 55% of the vote while Campbell secured 45%. His victory broke a 138-year tradition where sitting city council members failed to reach the city's highest office. Jackson assumed office as the city's 57th mayor on January 1, 2006.

An uncertain future[edit]

In the first decade of the 21st century, the economic and civic recovery of the 1980s and 1990s appeared to stall. The white flight of the previous century continued as wealth and the middle class moved to the suburbs, leaving behind impoverished citizens and a decaying infrastructure in most neighborhoods.[citation needed] Tight budgets forced layoffs of city employees and cuts in public services. Still, several city neighborhoods attracted investment for revitalization, including Downtown, Tremont, Ohio City, Detroit-Shoreway, and parts of Hough. Meanwhile, many suburbs saw job growth, rising tax revenue, and new construction.

In 2006, the Ohio House legislature eliminated rules that required city workers to live within city limits. Amid fears that workers would move en masse to the suburbs, Cleveland's mayor supported lawsuits by the cities of Akron and Lima challenging the law, but these were defeated in a June 2009 Ohio Supreme Court ruling.[13]

The national decline of the steel and auto industries hurt the region's economy, but there were other reasons for the city's malaise, according to a 2006 report by the Cleveland Branch of the Federal Reserve.[14] The large publicly financed projects of the 1990s, such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Browns Stadium, and the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex, mostly failed to deliver their promised economic growth. The city's public school system languishes in the state's "academic emergency" rating, and the city proper attracted fewer college-educated citizens than the surrounding region. Moreover, regional governments did not spend much to develop new companies or train and retain engineers, scientists, and other highly educated persons who could drive a new knowledge-based economy.

Recent trends, however, point to a gradual awakening of the population to these problems and the beginnings of solving them. Cleveland has begun to rediscover its entrepreneurial past, and has begun to capitalize on the wealth of educational and medical facilities in the region to produce economic growth. The most promising economic developments for Cleveland are centered around its so-called "ed and med" district, University Circle. Projections of 10,000 new jobs to be created in the area of the circle and surrounding areas such as the Cleveland Clinic's Fairfax neighborhood offer a new opportunity to reinvent Cleveland as a modern city. The city and local economic development entities such as University Circle Inc. are currently working on a variety of plans to redevelop the neighborhoods surrounding University Circle and to build a vibrant neighborhood in what they term Cleveland's "Uptown" area. In addition to the improvement of housing stock and development of new neighborhood retail, the ed and med entities are investing in start-up and early stage companies at a higher rate than the city has seen in decades. Several area organizations, such as "JumpStart Inc.", are investing venture capital in early stage companies, while others, such as "BioEnterprise", focus on attracting venture capital and other funding into bioscience and technology firms. The level of venture capital investment in the region has increased more than five times over since 2001.[15] Both the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals have announced billions of dollars in investment in new facilities, such as a new heart center for the Clinic, as well as a cancer center and new pediatric hospital for UH. Case Western Reserve University, the region's leading research university, is planning to focus its bioscience research into a new research and incubation park known as the "West Quad", which will also involve a variety of institutions from around the region. It is hoped that initiatives such as these will deliver the private-sector economic growth that Cleveland has so desperately craved, and bring with it a better future for the city and region.


  • 1863 – Free home delivery of mail - Joseph W. Briggs
  • 1879 – Electric lighting of public streets - Charles F. Brush
  • 1880 – Standardized formula paints - Sherwin-Williams Co.
  • 1890 – Indoor shopping center (The Arcade)
  • 1896 – X-ray machine and whole-body scanner – Dayton C. Miller (Case School of Applied Science); X-Ray photograph in the U.S. - Dudley Wick (his hand)
  • 1898 – Automobile sale in the U.S. - Alexander Winton
  • 1899 – Wound-rubber core golf ball - Haskell Coburn
  • 1900 – Automobile club
  • 1901 – Automobile steering wheel - Alexander Winton
  • 1905 – Blood transfusion - Dr. George W. Crile, Sr.
  • 1910 – Automobile shock absorbers - C.H. Foster
  • 1914 – Electric traffic signal - Euclid Ave. & East 105th St.
  • 1915 – Submachine gun
  • 1916 – Gas mask successfully demonstrated at Cleveland Waterworks explosion - Garrett A. Morgan
  • 1920 – Unassisted triple play in a World Series Baseball Game
  • 1921 – Automobile windshield wiper - Frederick G. and William M. Folberth
  • 1927 – Municipal airport (Cleveland Hopkins International) and air traffic control tower
  • 1928 – Frosted light bulbs - Marvin Pipkin
  • 1929 – Airplane automatic pilot (tested)
  • 1936 – Health museum
  • 1951 – Rock and Roll Music (public recognition and coinage of the term) - Alan Freed
  • 1952 – Successful siamese twin separation
  • 1967 – Elected the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city - Carl B. Stokes; Coronary artery bypass - Dr. René Favaloro - Cleveland Clinic
  • 1968 – Rapid transit rail service from airport to downtown

See also[edit]


  • Auburn, William H., and Miriam R. Auburn. 1933. This Cleveland of Ours. Cleveland: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co.
  • Condon, George E. Yesterday's Cleveland. ISBN 0-912458-73-9
  • Miller, Carol Poh, and Robert Anthony Wheeler. Cleveland: A Concise History, 1796-1996. ISBN 0-253-21147-6
  • Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia Of Cleveland History Cleveland: Cleveland Bicentennial Commission. ISBN 0-253-33056-4


  1. ^ Cp. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
  2. ^ Wickham, Gertrude Van Rensselaer (1899). "The Pioneer Mothers of Cleveland". Annals of the Early Settlers Association of Cuyahoga County. Cleveland: J.B. Savage. 4 (1): 490. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  3. ^ Wickham, Gertrude Van Rensselaer (1914). The Pioneer Families of Cleveland 1796–1840. Cleveland: Evangelical Publishing. pp. 7–8. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  4. ^ Guild, Mary A. Stiles Paul (1892). The Stiles Family in America. Albany: J. Munsell's Sons. p. 217. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  5. ^ "Stiles, Job Phelps". Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  6. ^ Bourne, Henry E. (1896). "The Story of Cleveland". New England Magazine. 14 (6): 744. It was agreeable to the wishes of many of our oldest and most intelligent citizens, who are of the opinion that the 'a' is superfluous.
  7. ^ William T. Horner, Ohio’s Kingmaker: Mark Hanna, Man and Myth (Ohio University Press, 2010).
  8. ^ Robert Bionaz, "Streetcar Politics and Reform Government in Cleveland, 1880–1909." Ohio History 119.1 (2012): 5-29.
  9. ^ "Eliza Bryant Center". African American Heritage Trail of Cleveland. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
  10. ^ Porter, Philip W. (1976). "Chapter Nine: Erieview, the Big Mistake: 1953-1962". Cleveland: Confused City on a Seesaw. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press. p. 180. ISBN 0-8142-0264-0. Transcription at The Cleveland Memory Project website.
  11. ^ Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. 1997-06-14. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.
  12. ^ Larkin, Brent (2009-07-12). "Cleveland: the best location bleeding population". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
  13. ^ Lynn Ischay/Plain Dealer. "Ohio Supreme Court rules against city residency requirements". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
  14. ^ Cleveland (on the) Rocks by Guhan Venkatu, Cleveland Federal Reserve. Published April 2006.
  15. ^ Cleveland reaches out to venture capitalists, by Kathleen Gallagher, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Published Dec 23, 2006.

Further reading[edit]

  • Van Tassel, David, and John Grabowski, eds. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (1996), Massive with comprehensive coverage of all topics.
  • Albrecht, Brian, and James Banks. Cleveland in World War II (Arcadia Publishing, 2015).
  • Borchert, James, and Susan Borchert. "Downtown, Uptown, Out of Town: Diverging Patterns of Upper-Class Residential Landscapes in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, 1885-1935." Social Science History 26#.2 (2002): 311-346.
  • Gregor, Sharon E. Rockefeller's Cleveland (Arcadia Publishing, 2010).
  • Hothem, Seth, et al. "From Flames to Fish: Resurrection of the Cuyahoga." Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation 2009.16 (2009): 1655-1672.
  • Jenkins, William D. "Before Downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and Urban Renewal, 1949-1958." Journal of Urban History 27.4 (2001): 471-496.
  • Johannesen, Eric. Cleveland Architecture, 1876-1976 (Western Reserve Historical, 1979).
  • Keating, Dennis, Norman Krumholz, and Ann Marie Wieland. "Cleveland’s Lakefront: Its Development and Planning." Journal of Planning History 4#2 (2005): 129-154.
  • Kukral, Michael A. "Czech Settlements in 19th Century Cleveland, Ohio." East European Quarterly 38.4 (2004): 473.
  • Lamoreaux, Naomi R., Margaret Levenstein, and Kenneth L. Sokoloff. "Financing invention during the second industrial revolution: Cleveland, Ohio, 1870-1920." (No. w10923. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2004). online
  • Morton, Marian J. Cleveland Heights (Arcadia Publishing, 2005).
  • Tuennerman-Kaplan, Laura. Helping others, helping ourselves: Power, giving, and community identity in Cleveland, Ohio, 1880-1930 (Kent State University Press, 2001).
  • Veronesi, Gene P. Italian-Americans & Their Communities of Cleveland (1977) Complete text online

Older sources[edit]

External links[edit]