Cuyahoga River

July 20, 2001


Provided by: Cleveland State University Library
Summary authors & editors: April Chiriboga

The above image pair shows Cleveland's Cuyahoga River in flames (left) and a rejuvenated Cleveland and a much cleaner Cuyahoga River (right). Over the course of Cleveland Ohio's history, the Cuyahoga River, which cuts through the center of the city, has caught fire three times because it was so polluted. When the city was first settled, the flat area near the water was too marshy and caused sickness among those who tried to settle there. Later, because of the waterway, it became a logical location for industrial development. As a result, a significant amount of industrial waste was dumped in the river. It is said that the people at that time felt that a polluted river was a sign of wealth and prosperity. The last time the river caught fire was 1969. Since that time there have been gentrification efforts that have cleaned up the area, making it a hotspot for nightlife known to locals as The Flats. Many groups support the diversity that The Flats hosts, from boating to dining to industry.

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