What Is Cleveland Known For? 14 Fun Facts About Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland Fun Facts

Did you know that in addition to being one of the best places to live in Ohio, Cleveland is also the birthplace of Superman and the location of the world’s first traffic light? Known for its rich history and vibrant culture, Cleveland offers many surprises and interesting facts. Learn about its famous residents, unique landmarks, and exciting events. Discover the fun facts that make Cleveland, OH, an amazing place to explore and appreciate.

Quick Highlights

  • Superman was created by Cleveland native Jerry Siegel and his friend Joe Shuster, reflecting the city’s creative spirit and historical significance in pop culture.
  • Cleveland pioneered traffic safety by installing the world’s first electric traffic signal in 1914 and has made significant contributions to science, healthcare, and space exploration.
  • The city has a rich entertainment and sports legacy, boasting the first major rock and roll concert, the holiday-famous ‘A Christmas Story’ house, and passionate sports fans.

The Origins of a Superhero: Cleveland & Superman

Unbeknownst to many, the Man of Steel himself has roots in the Cleveland area! That’s right, the iconic Superman character was born in the creative minds of Cleveland native Jerry Siegel and his friend Joe Shuster while they were attending Glenville High School in 1933. The duo began their comic book careers creating adventure strips for New Fun Comics, Inc. in 1936, culminating in Superman’s debut in Action Comics No. 1 in 1938.

Their journey, unfortunately, wasn’t as smooth as Superman's taking to the skies. After selling Superman to publisher Harry Donnenfeld for a mere $135 in 1938, Siegel and Shuster faced financial hardship and obscurity, having relinquished their rights to the character. It wasn’t until 1975, with public advocacy and industry support, that they were awarded lifetime annual compensation of $20,000 each from Warner Communications. This is a testament to the perseverance and enduring legacy of Cleveland’s finest.

Electrifying Firsts: Public Square & Traffic Lights

Cleveland Was the First City With an Electric Traffic Light

Cleveland, the first major American city to adopt progressive traffic solutions, made history in 1914 by becoming the site of the world’s first electric traffic signal. Installed at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in the University Circle area—one of Cleveland’s best neighborhoods—this pioneering traffic system was based on a design by James Hoge. In 1918, Hoge received a U.S. patent for his ‘Municipal Traffic Control System’.

The first traffic signal system featured pairs of red and green lights as stop-go indicators, mounted on corner posts. They were operated manually from a control booth to ensure signals didn’t conflict, bringing a new level of order and safety to the bustling streets of the city. Cleveland’s pioneering spirit certainly didn’t stop at traffic lights, though.

The Rock 'n' Roll Revolution Begins Here

Do you sense the rhythm? That’s the pulsating beat of Cleveland’s rock ‘n’ roll heart! Thanks to DJ Alan Freed, Cleveland is the proud birthplace of the term ‘rock and roll’. Freed’s radio show ‘The Moondog House’ on Cleveland’s WJW station played a pivotal role in introducing rock and roll to mainstream audiences.

In 1952, the ‘Moondog Coronation Ball’, organized by Freed, marked the first major rock and roll concert, signaling the genre’s arrival on the cultural scene. These events firmly established Cleveland’s place in music history as the starting point of the rock ‘n’ roll revolution.

This rich musical legacy eventually led to the establishment of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the city in 1983. Today, visiting the hall is one of the top things to do in Cleveland and a must for any rock ‘n’ roll fan.

A Storied Past Along Millionaires' Row

Cleveland’s historical tapestry also interweaves elements of wealth and grandeur. This is best exemplified by the storied past of Millionaires’ Row on Euclid Avenue, home to some of the most magnificent luxury homes in Cleveland. Rufus Dunham was the first investor in Euclid Avenue, opening a farm and tavern to accommodate stagecoaches. This set the stage for what would eventually become known as Millionaires’ Row, an area celebrated for its grand mansions and the elegant architecture of the city’s industrialists and entrepreneurs.

However, the opulence of Millionaires’ Row began to wane around 1910. Rising taxes and land costs prompted many mansion owners to relocate, leading to the demolition of many luxurious homes in favor of commercial buildings. This decline was further exacerbated by the construction of the Innerbelt Freeway in the 1950s. But even as the area transformed, a few original mansions still stand today, marking the legacy of its former splendor and the city’s link to industrial magnates such as John D. Rockefeller.

Cleveland's Architectural Marvel: The Terminal Tower

The Terminal Tower Was Once The Tallest Building in the Country

As we delve into Cleveland’s history, the towering symbol of the city’s architectural prowess, the Terminal Tower, is impossible to ignore. The result of the city’s largest construction project in the 1920s, the Terminal Tower was initiated by the Van Sweringen brothers following a 1919 public referendum. The tower required the demolition of over 1,000 buildings and the construction of numerous bridges and viaducts.

On completion in 1927, the Terminal Tower stood at a staggering 771 feet, making it the tallest building in North America outside of New York City until 1953. The complex encompassed multiple structures, including the Hotel Cleveland, Higbee’s Department Store, and the U.S. Post Office, spanning an area of 17 acres.

The Terminal Tower’s journey didn’t end there. In 1990, its steam concourse was transformed into the Tower City Center shopping mall, integrating new office towers and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. In 2010, Forest City Enterprises performed a significant $40 million overhaul, restoring the Terminal Tower’s terracotta facade and reopening the observation deck to the public.

What Celebrities Are From Cleveland?

Stars sprinkle Cleveland’s rich cultural tapestry. Award-winning actress Halle Berry was born in Cleveland and is named after Halle’s, a local department store chain. Comedian Drew Carey, an alumnus of James Ford Rhodes High School and Kent State University, also hails from Cleveland.

TV host Steve Harvey spent his childhood along East 112th Street in Cleveland, which was renamed “Steve Harvey Way” in 2015. Before Eagles center Jason Kelce and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce made history as the first brothers to face off in the Super Bowl, they were just two kids growing up in one of the homes in Cleveland Heights. From the big screen to the sports field and beyond, Cleveland has been home to a variety of stars!

The Great Lakes Science Adventure

Cleveland’s innovative spirit transcends the realms of comics, music, and architecture. It also finds a home in the field of science at the Great Lakes Science Center. This premier destination offers a variety of interactive science exhibits, making learning fun and engaging for visitors of all ages.

Notable exhibits at the Great Lakes Science Center include:

  • The NASA Glenn Visitor Center
  • Child-focused interactive displays like the Polymer Funhouse and Port Polymer
  • The Cleveland Clinic Dome Theater, which offers educational shows like “Pandas: The Journey Home” and “Space: The New Frontier”

Case Western Reserve University: A Hub of Innovation

Additionally, Cleveland houses some of the nation’s leading universities. Two of the most well-known schools in Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University, are recognized for their diverse research strengths. These universities have made significant contributions to various fields, with faculty receiving awards in:

  • Neuroscience
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Political science

The university’s commitment to fostering academic talent is evident in its support for young talents through programs like the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program. This, along with the numerous prestigious grants and fellowships awarded to its faculty, cements Case Western Reserve University’s role in fostering innovation and academic excellence.

Streetcars to Green Spaces: The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Learn About the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which was moved to Brookside Park in 1907 after outgrowing the Wade Park Zoo site, has evolved from a small outpost to a world-class attraction. Following the relocation, the zoo was managed by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Under the management of the Cleveland Metroparks, the zoo—one of the top things to do with kids in Cleveland—saw several new developments, including Monkey Island, Sea Lion Pools, and bear and elephant exhibits. Notably, Balto, the famous sled dog, once called the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo his home. Significant developments such as the Primate and Cat Building have been constructed, alongside the enhancement of the zoo with biothematic zones.

When Hollywood Came to Hough: The Christmas Story House

Cleveland’s allure goes beyond academia, reaching into the sphere of entertainment. The city played host to Hollywood when the house featured in the holiday classic ‘A Christmas Story’ was transformed into a real-life attraction. Purchased by a fan in 2004, the house was restored to reflect its appearance in the film, much to the delight of movie buffs everywhere. In addition to this iconic location, the Cleveland Play House offers a variety of theatrical performances for locals and visitors alike.

Adjacent to the house is a museum displaying original props, costumes, and behind-the-scenes photos. A gift shop offers replicas of the Leg Lamp and other memorabilia, allowing fans to take a piece of the movie magic home with them. Located in the Tremont area—one of Cleveland’s most walkable neighborhoods—the Christmas Story house offers immersive experiences with free entry for children under six.

The Pioneering Spirit of the Cleveland Clinic

The Cleveland Clinic exemplifies Cleveland’s pioneering spirit in the healthcare sector. From its origins as a small outpatient clinic, it has grown into the first integrated international healthcare system in the world, providing world-class medical services to patients worldwide.

The clinic’s commitment to community benefits is evident in its significant contributions of $1.41 billion in Ohio, Nevada, and Florida, demonstrating its significant impact as a health system. The Cleveland Clinic is not just a healthcare provider but also a driving force in healthcare innovation and a significant driver of the Cleveland economy. The clinic has contributed to the Cleveland Innovation District and is involved in AI, big data, and drug development.

This strategic partnership is expected to generate a substantial economic impact, creating 20,000 new jobs and $6 billion in total economic influence over the next decade. From healthcare to entertainment, academia, and beyond, Cleveland’s influence is far-reaching!

Space Exploration: The Glenn Research Center

Cleveland's influence even surpasses terrestrial boundaries. The Glenn Research Center has played a key role in the development of groundbreaking technology for air travel and space exploration. The center’s innovations have helped establish the United States’ leadership in the aerospace industry.

The Glenn Research Center boasts state-of-the-art facilities such as:

  • Wind tunnels
  • Drop towers
  • Vacuum chambers
  • A research aircraft hangar
  • The Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio

Whether it’s on land, in the air, or in space, Cleveland’s spirit of innovation continues to soar, and the Cleveland advertiser is here to showcase it all, including the bustling activity at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport!

A Toast to Tradition: Breweries of the Great Lakes Region

Getting to Know Cleveland's Great Breweries

Transitioning from space to suds, Cleveland’s charm persists! The city’s beer culture is widely celebrated, with the Great Lakes Brewing Company, Ohio’s original craft brewery, leading the charge. Founded by brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway in 1988, the brewery’s brewpub operates in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, while its brewing and packaging facility is in the nearby Strongsville community.

The brewery’s production facility, which opened in 1998, showcases its continuous growth and innovation. In 2018, the brewery embraced employee ownership, fostering a proud community within and around the company and its award-winning beer selection. The company’s partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2022, establishing the Great Lakes Experience at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and the introduction of their Christmas Ale in 1992 at their brewpub, show how they’ve expanded their brand and influence.

Sports Legacy: Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers, and Guardians

Naturally, any discussion about Cleveland would be incomplete without its sports legacy and a mention of Cleveland's history! The city is home to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, and the MLB’s Cleveland Guardians, all of which have a rich history of championships, iconic athletes, and fiercely loyal fanbases. The Cleveland Browns, founded in 1944, established a legacy with four NFL championships and four All-America Football Conference championships from 1946 to 1949.

Key figures in the Browns’ historic success included:

  • Quarterback Otto Graham
  • Coach Paul Brown
  • Running back Jim Brown
  • Quarterback Bernie Kosar

The Guardians, previously known as the Indians, have a rich Cuyahoga County history dating back to 1901 and play at Progressive Field. They've won multiple American League pennants and have a passionate fan base. The Cleveland Cavaliers, or Cavs, bring excitement to the city with their thrilling basketball games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Known for their 2016 NBA Championship win, the Cavs have produced some memorable moments and stars, making them a central part of Cleveland's sports culture.

Cleveland Has More Than Meets the Eye

From the birthplace of Superman to the home of rock ‘n’ roll, the tallest building outside of New York City, and a world-class zoo, Cleveland’s rich history and cultural diversity are truly awe-inspiring. The city’s pioneering spirit is evident in its groundbreaking traffic system, its contributions to air travel and space exploration, and its world-renowned healthcare institutions. Cleveland is a city that’s constantly evolving, growing, and breaking boundaries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Made Cleveland Famous?

Cleveland became famous for being a central hub for industrial growth, commerce, and trade due to its proximity to rail and water routes, as well as natural resources like iron and oil. These factors contributed to its prominence throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Where is the Christmas Story House Located in Cleveland?

The Christmas Story House is located at 3159 W 11th St. in Cleveland. It's a popular tourist attraction for fans of the movie.

What is the Significance of the Terminal Tower in Cleveland?

The Terminal Tower in Cleveland is significant because it was the tallest building outside of New York City when it was completed in 1927, and it is a symbol of the city's architectural prowess.

What is the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland Known for?

The Glenn Research Center is known for its contributions to the development of technology for air travel and space exploration, making it a key player in advancing these areas of innovation.

Ready to start looking for your new home in Cleveland? Call The Young Team at (216) 402-4774 today to get in touch with a local real estate expert who can help you start your homebuying journey.

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