Cleveland population is at 431,000, where once it peaked at 915,000

Civil War pushed Cleveland manufacturing strength

CLEVELAND - Cleveland has lost significant population in the last 60 years. The 2010 census figure shows that figure has dwindled to about 431,000. In the 1950 U.S. Census, Cleveland boasted nearly 915,000 people.

However, the little settlement at the convergence of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie began almost unnoticed. It was in 1796 when Cleveland was founded by Connecticut surveyor Moses Cleaveland, who ventured here with his surveying equipment to map out what was called the Connecticut Western Reserve.

By 1860, the year before the Civil War, Cleveland's population was listed at about 43,000 people. The city was not a manufacturing center, but more of a wholesale center. When the American Civil War began between the Union North and the rebelling southern states, Cleveland began to flex its manufacturing muscle.

"Demand for railroads, iron goods, shot up and Cleveland took a leadership role," said Ed Pershey, vice president of the Western Reserve Historical Society, based in Cleveland.

It was the business people of the 1861, the year the Civil War began, who realized the Union war effort needed heavy-duty products. They went to work establishing manufacturing companies. They also realized there was money to be made and Cleveland began to grow.

By 1870, the city's population had grown to more than 93,000. Many of the people came to Cleveland because of the need for workers in the heavy industry jobs. From those seeds, millions of dollars were made by businessmen who seized the opportunities presented by the needs of war.

When the 20 century came, one of every six millionaires in the world called Cleveland home. Through the first half of the 20th century, Cleveland's muscular manufacturing biceps bulged. The city was a center for steel, textiles, shipbuilding and other products.

With the loss of jobs over the last several decades, the city's population has trickled to 431,000 people. Many of the residents, however, do remain in the Greater Cleveland area, having moved to the several dozen suburbs that surround the city. Although there is still some manufacturing in the city, many of the goliaths that peppered the heavy industrial belt of the Cleveland flats have moved elsewhere or gone out of business.

However, the 2010 Census shows expanding new industries -- namely those in the medical ranks. With the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals of Cleveland, and the MetroHealth Medical Center, there are thousands of additional jobs in the medical professions.

Cleveland has become a major medical center with patients from around the world coming to the renown Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals for specialized treatments.

Cleveland is stretching its mucles again. Some contend the city is reinventing itself for the 21st century.

However, the smokestacks of heavy industry that were silhouetted against the sky are not as large in number as they were once. Instead, there are new buildings, some of them packed with medical equipment and hospitals beds, which is helping Cleveland find an economic footing again. Census figures show fewer people living in the city, especially when compared to the heyday of heavy manufacturing earlier in the 20th century.

Cleveland is hoping to grow again based on new industries and new times.

For modern-day census statistics, please check the 2011 U.S. Statistical Abstract:



Information for this report from Scripps Howard News Service

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