Cleveland, OH, USA

Cleveland, OH

[Text supplied by Jordan Yin]

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 the efforts of 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.



Pierre Clavel’s “The Progressive City” (Chapter 3) (1986).

Todd Swanstrom, “The Crisis of Growth Politics” (1985).

Norman Krumholz and John Forester, “Making Equity Planning Work” (1990).

“Cleveland: Post-Populist Public Private Partnerships” (1989) by W. Dennis Keating, Norman Krumholz, and John Metzger in “Unequal Partnerships: The Political Economy of Urban Redevelopment in Postwar America”.

“The Community Development Industry System: A Case Study of Politics and Institutions in Cleveland, 1967-1997” (1998) by Jordan Yin in Journal of Urban Affairs, Vol. 20 (2).

“Re-Thinking the Future of Cleveland’s Neighborhood Developers: Interim Report” by Norman Krumholz and Kathryn W. Hexter, Center for Community Planning and Development, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

Documents, Links, and Images

RMC Resources

Series V: Cleveland
The Cornell collection derives initially from research by Pierre Clavel in the 1980s and includes interview tapes and transcripts, 24 key city documents, a number of news clippings covering mainly the period 1968-1979, and many issues of Point of View