The Flats' Industrial Heritage, Cleveland, Ohio
Long before Cleveland’s Flats were abuzz with nightlife, concerts, bar-hopping and fine dining, they served as the industrial and shipping core of the city. And long before revelers criss-crossed the Cuyahoga River on water taxis, or boaters cruised out the river’s mouth and past the breakwall to the recreational expanse of Lake Erie, tankers and ore boats navigated the hairpin turns of the winding river at the behest of hearty tugs.
In many ways, the Flats still serve as an industrial district, and the tugs still ply river traffic below the teeming citizens high above.
The Flats consist of the land areas flanking the east and west banks of the winding Cuyahoga River that runs directly through the heart of Cleveland. Due to the extremely circuitous nature of the watercourse, however, the banks along the roughly half-mile-wide river valley swell into peninsulas of varied size and shape. Those irregular land areas proved ideal for the warehouses, storage yards and docks of the City’s earliest industry, shipping and storage enterprises.
The 1827 opening of the Ohio & Erie Canal and the growth of the railroads starting in the 1850s both spurred tremendous growth in Cleveland’s role as an industrial, ore and shipping hub. As more and more businesses saw the advantages of ready rail and water traffic, an entire range of manufacturing and industrial enterprises flocked to the Flats — shipyards, foundries, lumber yards, iron furnaces, rolling mills, oil refineries, paint and chemical companies, building materials storage, ore, gravel, salt, etc.
Though industry in the Flats diminished as alternatives to rail and water transportation arose, it is resident yet. As the above photo shows, massive ships still dock at industrial storage yards to take on the loads they will transport throughout the Great Lakes.
- Cleveland's Public Square
Examine the four square blocks at the cross-hairs of Cleveland's downtown that contain many of the landmark historical elements of this Midwest metropolis.
- Cleveland's Settlers Landing
Settlers Landing, Cleveland, Ohio In mid-summer of 1796 â just two decades after the United States had declared its independence from Great Britain â the estimable Moses Cleaveland led a colonial surveying team as they disembarked onto the...
- Cleveland's Flats District
The low-lying or 'flat' area of the downtown Cleveland core, along the Cuyahoga River was the first area settled, and is still vibrant today.
- Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Bridge #464, Cleveland, Oh...
Should you be a bridge aficionado, then you MUST travel to Cleveland's Cuyahoga River, along the banks of which you'll enjoy views of more different styles of bridge than perhaps anywhere else.
- Tour Cleveland's lakefront (and riverfront)
If you're traveling to the Forest City, you might want to check out any of these sights strung along the Lake Erie shoreline and the banks of the Cuyahoga throughout downtown Cleveland.
- Cleveland's Power House
Having been repurposed several times, this historic power house is now home to the walk-through shark tank of the new Nautica Aquarium.
- The Western Reserve Building, Cleveland, Ohio
This structure is one of Cleveland's first true high-rises, constructed of senstively detailed multi-color brown brick and sizable windows.
- Cleveland: A Cluster of Communities
Cleveland and some of its surrounding communities I was born into Cleveland, Ohio when it was one of the nationâs ten largest cities, as its urban population peaked at almost 915,000, and the city had been named an All-America City for the first...