The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Cuyahoga River catching on fire, a cursed sports town, these are just a few of the things that Cleveland is known for around the country. While Cleveland isn’t the most glamorous city in America, there are some pretty interesting things about our city that makes it great. Although useless, enjoy some of these interesting facts and tid bits about Cleveland history that you probably didn’t know.
1. Cleveland was in fact the first city to be lit by electricity
Electricity is widely thought to be invented or discovered by Benjamin Franklin, but it was Charles Brush of Cleveland who put it to it’s greatest use. In 1879, Brush illuminated Public Square to be the first “city” lit with electricity. Additionally, the first electric traffic signal was in the intersection of Euclid Ave. and East 105th St.
2. The first “semi-truck” was invented in Cleveland
Back in the 1800’s, when automobiles were first being rolled out, there were no big trucks capable of transporting large quantities of goods. Alexander Winton was a Scottish immigrant who moved to Cleveland in the late 1800’s. There, he founded the Winton Bicycle Company in 1891. That company turned into an automobile company, and when Winton realized he needed a way to transport automobiles, he attached a large wagon/cart to the back of his car and the first semi truck was born.
Photo via Detroit Metro Times
3. The name “Cleveland” is the way it is because of a newspaper
Cleveland was originally named “Cleaveland” after Moses Cleavelend founded the city in 1796. It was called Cleaveland until 1830 when The Cleaveland Leader, a newspaper in town, couldn’t fit the extra “a” on the front cover, and just decided to scrap it and go with Cleveland. The name stuck, and that’s why it’s called Cleveland after all these years.
4. The first “indoor shopping mall” was in downtown Cleveland
The Arcade downtown opened in 1890 as America’s first indoor shopping mall. The mall was modeled after a similar gallery in Milan, Italy. Some of the richest men in America at the time happened to reside in Cleveland and they funded the construction of it. These men were Louis Severence, John D. Rockefeller, Charles Brush and Marcus Hanna, some extremely famous wealthy Ohioans.
5. Golf was revolutionized in Cleveland
The game of golf today wouldn’t be where it is without the ingenuity of Coburn Haskell, who modernized the golf ball itself which helped grow the popularity of the sport. Haskell was a golfer himself, who designed a new ball that featured rubber thread wrapped around a rubber core which helps the ball travel further distances and easier control.
6. The first rock concert was held in Cleveland
Cleveland has the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame for a reason, as the first ever rock concert was held in 1952 at the Cleveland Arena. Featuring acts such as Paul Williams and the Hucklebuckers, and Tony Grimes and the Rockin’ Highlanders, you could watch the first ever rock concert for a mere $1.50 entry fee. Alan Freed, commonly known as the person who coined the term Rock n’ Roll, was there and broadcasted the show over the radio.
Photo via Wikipedia
7. The first mass produced potato chips were from Cleveland
During the Civil War in 1862, citizens had to go to the post office to retrieve their mail. Since so many people were expecting mail from their loved ones partaking in the war, there were endless lines and wait times for people to get their mail. Joseph Briggs, a postal worker at the time, suggested the idea of delivering pieces of mail to people’s houses as opposed to them going to the cities post office. It caught on and today that is why we get mail delivered daily to our mailboxes.
8. The first mass produced potato chips were from Cleveland
While potato chips were around and eaten well before William Tappenden mass produced them, they were only available in certain restaurants as something people ordered. Tappenden wanted them to be available everywhere, and in 1895 he began making them in his barn and delivering them to grocery stores with his horse and buggy. The first potato chip factory was then built on E 79th Street in Cleveland.
9. Ohio is the only state with an official rock song
You definitely know the tune, the famous “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys is played all over the state of Ohio with it’s famous call out being the “O-H-I-O” chant in the middle. The song is played and sung by Buckeyes fans around the world every football season. The McCoys were originally from Dayton, Ohio.
Oklahoma used to have an official rock song as well, the tune “Do You Realize” by the Flaming Lips was recognized as the official rock song from 2009-2013, a short lived run, leaving Ohio as the only state to have one. Rock on!