Cleveland History

Cleveland has a proud history more than 200 years in the making.

General Moses Cleaveland founded the City of Cleveland in 1796. The name changed to its current spelling in 1831 when the "a" was dropped in order to fit the city's name on a newspaper masthead. Originally a frontier village, Cleveland grew into a manufacturing and business center for northern Ohio.

Today, the city is headquarters for both manufacturing and service industries, as well as a growing tourism and convention destination. It is the 16th largest metro area and 15th largest consumer market in the United States with 2.9 million residents in the Greater Cleveland metro and nearly 400,000 in the City of Cleveland, making it the 48th largest city in the country.

For more Cleveland History, visit the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History and the Cleveland Memory Project or click here to download the new Cleveland Historical App for iPhone and Android.

Cleveland Timeline

1796 - July 22. U.S. General Moses Cleaveland from the Connecticut Land Company surveys the Western Reserve. 3.3 million-acre piece of land on the shores of Lake Erie is called the "Western Reserve."

1797 - May 2. Lorenzo Carter arrives at original town site as the city's first permanent settler. Built a log cabin on the East Bank of the Cuyahoga River that also served as the village's jail and inn.

1802 - First census of Cleaveland Township shows 76 males over the age of 21.

1814 - December 23. Cleaveland receives its charter as a village.

1820 - Population of Cleaveland is 606 people. The population of Cuyahoga County is 6,328.

1831 - January 6. The Cleveland Advertiser changes the spelling of the village's name to Cleveland, dropping the first "a" in order to fit the General's name upon the newspaper masthead.

1832 - Ohio and Erie Canal completed to the Ohio River.

1836 - Cleveland incorporated as an official city.

1850 - Population of Cleveland is 17,034 people. The population of Cuyahoga County is 48,099.

1866 - Sherwin Williams Company established.

1868 - September 6. First "blow" of Bessemer steel made at the Cleveland Rolling Mills.

1869 - First professional baseball game in Cleveland played by the Forest City team. Cleveland Public Library established. Lake View Cemetery opens.

1870 - January 10. Standard Oil Company established by John D. Rockefeller. February 3. Cleveland's population - 92,829 (15th largest city in nation).

1879 - April 29. Arc light (forerunner to electric streetlight) installed on Public Square by Charles F. Brush. Forest City, Cleveland's professional baseball team, joins the National League.

1888 - First electric streetcar runs in the city.

1890 - Cleveland is the 10th largest city in the nation with a population of 261,353 people. The Arcade, one of the nation's first indoor shopping center, opens.

1901 - The Cleveland Blues, predecessor to the Cleveland Indians, are established as a charter member of the new American League.

1915 - Playhouse Settlement, forerunner to Karamu House, is found by Russel and Rowena Jelliffe.

1916 - Cleveland Museum of Art opens. First production by the Cleveland Play House.

1917 - Cleveland Metroparks created.

1918 - The world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra performs its first concert.

1920 - Cleveland is the 5th largest city in the nation with a population of 796, 841 people. The Cleveland Indians win their first World Series.

1921 - Cleveland Clinic founded.

1925 - Cleveland Municipal Airport (now Cleveland Hopkins International Airport) opens. University Hospitals established.

1931 - Cleveland Municipal Stadium opens with the Schmeling-Stribling boxing match. Severance Hall dedicated.

1933 - Clevelanders Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster create the comic book character Superman.

1935 - Eliot Ness becomes Safety Director of Cleveland.

1936 - Clevelander Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at Berlin Olympics. Cleveland Barons hockey team established.

1937 - Cleveland Rams begin play in the National Football League (NFL).

1945 - Cleveland Rams win NFL championship then move to Los Angeles.

1946 - Cleveland Browns begin play in new All-American Football Conference (AAFC). Win all four championship titles in conference history. (1946-1949).

1948 - Cleveland Indians win their second World Series.

1950 - Cleveland Browns join the NFL and win the NFL championship. Browns also win titles in 1954-1955 and 1964 (their last NFL title). Cleveland's population reaches 914,808 (highest ever).

1952 - Alan Freed, Cleveland radio deejay, coins the term "Rock n' Roll." First rock n' roll concert, The Moondog Coronation Ball, is held in Cleveland.

1967 - Carl B. Stokes elected mayor of Cleveland. He is the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city.

1970 - Cleveland Cavaliers enter the National Basketball Association (NBA) as an expansion team.

Late 1970s - PlayhouseSquare renovation project complete.

1986 - Cleveland selected as site of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

1990 - March 29. The Avenue at Tower City Center opens.

1991 - Key Tower is completed on Public Square. At 948 feet, it is the tallest building between New York City and Chicago.

1993 - Cleveland named All-American City for fifth time. All-American City in 1949, 1982, 1984, 1986.

1994 - Gateway Sports Entertainment Complex (Jacobs Field and Gund Arena) opens.

1995 - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens. Cleveland Indians win their first American League pennant in 41 years and make their 4th World Series appearance.

1996 - Cleveland celebrates its Bicentennial. Great Lakes Science Center opens.

1997 - Cleveland Indians win the American League pennant and return to the World Series. Cleveland hosts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

1999 - August 21. The new Cleveland Browns Stadium opens with the historic return of the Cleveland Browns.

2001 - Cleveland Indians set a Major League record by selling out 455 consecutive games.

2002 - Cleveland citizens elect Jane L. Campbell as the first female mayor of Cleveland.

2005 - Gund Arena (home of the Cleveland Cavaliers) is renamed Quicken Loans Arena.

2006 - The Economist names Cleveland one of "America's Most Liveable Cities" and "The Best City for Business Meetings in the Continental U.S."

2007 - The American Public Transportation Association names Cleveland's mass transit system the best in North America. Cleveland Chef Michael Symon is named "Iron Chef" by the Food Network.

2008 - Cleveland RTA completes the environmentally friendly rapid transit "Healthline" which runs along Euclid Avenue from downtown through University Circle. Jacob's Field (home of the Cleveland Indians) is renamed Progressive Field and ranked as Major League Baseball's "Best Ballpark" by a Sports Illustrated fan poll.

2009 - Cleveland once again hosts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Cleveland's signature cultural event, "Parade the Circle" celebrates its 20th anniversary. Destination Cleveland, one of the nation's longest running convention and visitors bureaus, turns 75.

2011 - David Gilbert becomes the CEO of Destination Cleveland, Cleveland’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

2012 - Cleveland hosts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction Ceremony once again. Also this year, the number of major attractions in Cleveland grew with the opening of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and Ohio’s first casino, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. In addition, one of the city’s flagship cultural institutions, the West Side Market, celebrated its centennial year of operation.

2013 - The FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland Center opened its doors in June 2013 allowing the city to become a viable competitor for major conventions, and housed multiple sporting events for the National Senior Games, which drew 20,000 athletes and supporters. In October, the Global Center for Health Innovation opened, offering state-of-the-art space and technology for its high-profile healthcare industry tenants.

2014 - Cleveland and Akron welcome the 2014 International Gay Games (GG9). With more than 5,000 expected participants and an estimated 20,000 spectators, this event promises to boost regional businesses by pumping tens of millions of dollars into Cleveland’s economy.  In addition, Cleveland’s theatre district, PlayhouseSquare, is looking to embellish the area with $16 million in development that will include a 20-foot-tall outdoor chandelier to hang over the intersection of East 14th Street and Euclid.

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