In 1796, General Moses Cleaveland surveyed the area, then known as “New Connecticut”, for the Connecticut Land Company. Cleaveland chose the location near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River on Lake Erie as the townsite. The settlement was named after General Cleaveland. During this first settlement, Charles Phelps Stiles, the first person born in Cleveland, was born. Eventually, the settlement was abandoned due to disease.
In 1799, the settlement was re-established. Lorenzo Carter was influential in making the settlement permanent due to his success in trade. During this time, Cleveland became a major hub for transporting goods due to its location on the lake. The name was changed to its current spelling in 1831 when a newspaper changed it so that it would fit on the paper’s masthead. The completion of the Erie Canal, in 1832, further cemented Cleveland’s status a trade port with the city finally being incorporated in 1836.
The Civil War
The Civil War brought an increase to Cleveland’s iron industry with the making of railroad iron and gun battery axels. This boom was caused by the discovery of iron ore in the canal beds. In addition to the iron industry, Cleveland played an active role within the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. It was one of the stops along the Oberlin-Wellington Trail.
Post Civil War
In 1870, Cleveland’s population was over 92,000. The city continued to grow and increase in industrial prominence. The oil refining business played a major role in this expansion. In 1870, John D. Rockefeller formed Standard Oil of Ohio in Cleveland. Standard soon became one of the nation’s major supplier of oil in the country.
Turn of the Century
Cleveland saw even bigger growth during the early 1900s with the 1920s being its heyday. During this time, Cleveland saw a progress reform in its government. This was due in part to the administration of then Cleveland mayor Thomas L. Johnson. Johnson saw to regulation in Cleveland’s meat market. Another reform was the push for home rule in Ohio with Cleveland being a major supporter. By 1920, Cleveland was the 5th largest city in the U.S.
Decades of Decline Followed by Renewal
Following the 1920s, Cleveland saw a several decade slide until the 1980s. Since that time, Cleveland has begun to see an upward swing in growth and industry. Hopefully, that growth will continue, and Cleveland will return to its status as a major U.S. city.