As of the 2000 Census, the city proper had a total population of 478,403, and was then the 33rd largest city in the nation and the second largest city in Ohio. It is the center of Greater Cleveland, the largest metropolitan area in Ohio, which spans several counties and is defined in several different ways by the Census Bureau. The Cleveland-Elyria-MentorMetropolitan Statistical Area which in 2000 ranked as the 23rd largest in the United States with 2,250,871 people. Cleveland is also part of the larger Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area, which in 2000 had a population of 2,945,831, and ranked as the country's 14th largest.
In studies conducted by The Economist in 2005, Cleveland and Pittsburgh were ranked as the most livable cities in the United States, and the city was ranked as the best city for business meetings in the continental U.S. The city faces continuing challenges, in particular from concentrated poverty in some neighborhoods and difficulties in the funding and delivery of high-quality public education.
William R. Hopkins served as the first city manager of Cleveland from 1924 to 1929. By that time, Cleveland had seen several controversial political figures in office such as Frederick Kohler and Harry L. Davis. Voters decided to try to extricate municipal government from partisan politics by adopting the city manager plan. Hopkins was selected by local Republican boss Maurice Maschke, former postmaster William J. Murphy, and business manager of the news George Moran as the man who could hold the job as the city's manager. He was elected to the position by a coalition.
As city manager, Hopkins brought new development to Cleveland. He pushed for the development of parks, improved welfare institutions, wider boulevards, more playgrounds, air pollution control, and the construction of the Van Sweringen brothers' Terminal Tower. However, because the balance between city council and the city's central government was outweighed due to Hopkins' efficiency, council was always at war with the city manager, especially the newly-elected Peter Witt.
In 1925, he proposed a bold new initiative; the construction of a large airport located ten miles southwest of downtown. At the time, the idea seemed like a pipe dream with the introduction of the airplane being relatively new. However, it was built as Cleveland Municipal Airport and became the first municipally owned airport in the United States. In 1951, the name was changed to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in his honor.