Cleveland, Ohio, is widely known for several important moments in the political history of American cities, including the mayoral administration of Tom L. Johnson (1900-1908) during the "Progressive Era" of the early 20th century that introduced "good government" reforms to city hall and the election of mayor Carl Stokes (1967-1971) who served as the first African-American mayor of a major US city.

During the late 1970s, Cleveland came to the forefront of the modern progressive cities movement with the populist mayoral election of Dennis Kucinich. While Kucinich served only one term (1977-1979), his election fed off of a wave of dissatisfaction in the city's neighborhoods where many residents believed that years of decline were going unanswered by local government and politicians. Throughout the 1970s, the plight of Cleveland's neighborhoods gained visibility through a wide range of efforts, including grassroots community organizing by Cleveland's Catholic Commission of Community Action, the muckraking investigative journalism of Roldo Bartimole in his Point of View newsletter, and the work of neighborhood planners under Norman Krumholz at the City of Cleveland's Planning Commission.

While neighborhood activists hoped that a Kucinich administration would shift the city's focus of redevelopment from downtown projects to neighborhood revitalization, Kucinich's term in office is best known for Cleveland's historic default in December of 1978.

While the progressive hopes for the Kucinich administration went largely unrealized, the city has continued to move forward over the last 35 years as a study in contrasts, with downtown development projects engineered by "post-populists public-private partnerships" receiving vast public subsides, while Cleveland's neighborhoods have developed a nationally-recognized system of Community Development Corporations (CDCs) that carry on a grassroots tradition of improving Cleveland's neighborhoods through community-based housing, economic, and social development programs.

[Text supplied by Jordan Yin]

Recent Submissions

  • Cleveland Policy Planning Report 

    Cleveland (Ohio). City Planning Commission (1975)
    On page 9 of the Cleveland Policy Planning Report, its second page of text, the Cleveland planners stated: "Equity requires that locally-responsible government institutions give priority attention to the goal of promoting ...
  • Krumholz Early Papers 

    Krumholz, Norman (1969)
    When Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes offered Norman Krumholz the directorship of the Cleveland City Planning Department in 1969, Krumholz jumped in with hopes of getting the maximum effort toward the social justice that Stokes, ...


RSS Feeds