Cleveland's Settlers Landing
In mid-summer of 1796 — just two decades after the United States had declared its independence from Great Britain — the estimable Moses Cleaveland led a colonial surveying team as they disembarked onto the gently sloped eastern bank of a sharply winding Cuyahoga River. It was here that the energetic Moses founded the city that would thenceforth bear his name (albeit with a slightly altered spelling).
Cleaveland, born 42 years earlier in Connecticut, had become a law graduate of Yale, a commissioned officer in the Continental Army, a member of his state’s general assembly, and a shareholder in the land company that acquired territory in what is now northern Ohio (part of Connecticut’s congressionally-established ‘Western Reserve’). The landing site of Cleaveland’s party of fifty or so is now called Settlers Landing, and is today marked by a pedestrian plaza, a gridded cluster of graphic steles, and an artful rail transit station.
Settlers Landing occupies an outer curvature of the serpentine Cuyahoga: Iroquois for ‘crooked river’. Throughout Cleveland’s history, the river’s bends have proven challenging for the pilots of the tugs and massive ore tankers that regularly ply its waters. Nestled into the city’s Flats — the low lying land amid the twists and turns of the knotted and winding watercourse — are ore storage sites, restaurants, steel mills, warehouses, marinas, pubs, bridgehouses, nightclubs, factories and grand river vistas.
The explorers’ initial 1796 route to Settlers Landing is depicted in one of eight art glass panels that serve as passenger windscreens at the Regional Transit Authority’s station near the riverside site. Other panels depict early colonial travelers as well as later transportation modes. The parklike lawn that descends to the riverside is studded with a 5x5 grid of vertical concrete steles (or posts), each tiled with multiple pieces of art created by Cleveland schoolchildren in celebration of the bicentennial of the founding of the city.
In addition, a local microbrewery, The Great Lakes Brewing Company, has commemorated the town’s founder — who, by the way, left Cleveland after his initial exploratory trip, never to return — in its Holy Moses White Ale.
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