Cleveland History

Cleveland has seen its fortunes rise and fall more than once.

Cleveland was first settled in the late 18th century, named after General Moses Cleaveland, who laid out the town’s plans.

The first settlers arrived in 1814 and the population began to expand rapidly around 1832, when the Ohio and Erie Canal was completed.

The city was incorporated in 1836 and was an early headquarters for Standard Oil, with iron ore and coal being transported through the city.

By 1870, Cleveland’s newfound wealth was apparent in the mansions being built; there was even a ‘millionaires row’ on Euclid Avenue. This late period of the 19th century was known as the ‘Gilded Age’.

A number of notable manufacturing companies moved into the city, propelling it to become the fifth largest city in the USA in the early 20th century.

The 1920s were prosperous for Cleveland. Waves of new immigrants arrived from Eastern Europe, though local mobs became powerful after Prohibition.

The stock market crashed in 1929, coupled with what was widely considered incompetent leadership in Cleveland.

In 1936, the city debuted the Great Lakes Exposition, designed to kickstart the economy. It worked incredibly well, drawing 4 million visitors in its first year and 7 million by the end of its second year. This success continued after WWII.

Political unrest and a series of economic slumps in the 1960s and 70s sent the city into a sharp decline, and come the 1980s, industry was badly faltering.

A couple of proactive mayors turned Cleveland’s fortunes around in the 1990s, redeveloping Downtown and building the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Cleveland earned the nickname ‘The Comeback City’. It has improved infrastructure, is more diversified, and has invested in the arts. It’s attracted back innovative young businesspeople, nurtured its neighbourhoods and emerged as a vibrant, strong city.

Did you know?
• Clevelanders Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the first Superman comic in 1933.
• Actress Halle Berry was born in Cleveland in 1966.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) was mainly shot in the Mansfield area, just southwest of Cleveland.

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