Correcting the Mistake on the Lake

Downtown Cleveland

History of Cleveland/Correcting the Mistake on the Lake
Vamonde Creators
Written By Vamonde Creators

Adventures written by the VAMONDE Team

Correcting the Mistake on the Lake

In the late 20th century and during the first decade of the 21st century, Cleveland faced turbulent economic challenges that earned it the nickname “the mistake on the lake.” In 1978, 31 year old Dennis Kucinich was elected Mayor of Cleveland- the youngest mayor of any major city in the United States. Unfortunately for the idealistic politician, his administration was riddled with scandal that initiated a significant economic downturn for the city.

Losing the Battle with Power

Three months into his term, Mayor Kucinich and his appointed police chief argued publically on television, and the police chief got fired. Concerned voters considered this move immature, and a recall of the Mayor was launched. Kucinich won the recall by only 236 votes, but his term continued along a disastrous trajectory as he continued to follow his path of integrity. One of his promises to the city was to cancel the sale of a publicly owned electric company "Municipal Light" to a private company. The sale had been initiated by his predecessor, but, as a man of the public, Kucinich wanted Municipal Light to stay in public control.

After the sale was canceled, the private company quickly sued Municipal Light for $14 million in damages, and Kucinich attempted to pay the settlement by cutting city expenses. However, the Cleveland Trust Company then demanded Kucinich to sell the utility company or else it would not renew the city’s credit on its loans accumulated through the preceding administration. Kucinich kept his promise to the public to not sell Municipal Light, and at midnight on December 15, 1978, the Cleveland Trust Company bankrupted the city of Cleveland. It was the first time in American history since the Great Depression that a city declared bankruptcy.

Although the administration to follow Kucinich produced positive economic results, Cleveland faced other obstacles through the 1980s, the 1990s, and into the next millennium. It has only been in recent years since the Great Recession that Cleveland is finally reclaiming the vibrance that validates its beautiful architecture, hospitable neighborhoods, and creative potential. The past may have been rocky for this city perched on the shore of Lake Eerie, but residents and travelers alike are looking into its future for the next opportunities that Cleveland will certainly offer.

Cover image: "Edgewater Park along Lake Eerie at Sunset" by Amanda Lynn Barker.

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Correcting the Mistake on the Lake

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