Cleveland: Green City?

glsc.jpgForty years ago, Cleveland’s river burned. Literally. The Cuyahoga River, which winds through Cleveland and Akron, was once one of the most polluted rivers in the United States, having caught fire more than a dozen times since 1868. When it burned in 1969, Time magazine described the Cuyahoga (which means “crooked river” in Iroquois) as the river that “oozes rather than flows” and where a person “does not drown but decays.” Needless to say, the 1969 fire spurred environmental concerns and a plethora of environmental legislation was passed, including the Clean Water Act and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

But where is Cleveland today? According to MSNBC, Rock City still ranks among one of the most polluted cities in the U.S. (In fact, one fifth of the top 25 air-particle polluted cities are located in Ohio. Ouch.) But the city, if ever slowly, is hopping on the green bandwagon, trying to dispose of its bad rap.

Last October, five Cleveland hotel groups took the first steps to being green, according to Green Lodging News.

The Radisson Hotel Cleveland has implemented a recycling program and unplugged its mini-fridges when not in use; Hyatt Cleveland is seeking an Energy Star label and wants to go paperless by 2020. The city’s baseball stadium and Great Lakes Science Center installed solar panels on both roofs, and the museum’s front lawn is home to a wind turbine.

And Cleveland’s green efforts aren’t limited to trimming energy use, they’re also incorporating green thinking into their menus. Stop by the Greenhouse Tavern (for roasted tea hills chicken with Ohio asparagus. Yum!), one of the first green-certified restaurants in the state. Or try the Great Lakes Brewing Company, a sustainable brewer that serves organic and locally grown food, has an intricate recycling program, uses vermicomposting (worms) to dispose of kitchen scraps, and operates the “Fatty Wagon,” a delivery truck that runs on recycled vegetable oil from the restaurant.

We can drink to that.

To learn more about Cleveland’s green efforts, check out the Positively Cleveland blog.

Photo: Great Lakes Science Center


  1. […] paragraphs some mention or joke that its river, the Cuyahoga, caught on fire briefly in 1969. (Like this one, or that one, and even this R.E.M song.) Sometimes that was followed with the dismissal that the […]

  2. jean-paul batiste
    cleveland by way of montreal
    March 1, 2012, 2:31 pm

    i came to cleveland from montreal,qc back in 84…i can honestly say that its downtown area has come a long way …we have the casino coming in may,there’s plans to build up the lakefront things are lokkig up for cleveland

  3. seodofollows
    November 16, 2010, 12:50 am

    aving caught fire more than a dozen times since 1868. When it burned in 1969, Time magazine described the Cu laptop bag factory,

  4. Michael O'Hare
    November 26, 2009, 5:51 pm

    Thank for the article on Cleveland Jeannette. It sounds similar to a city in the UK recently votes Britain’s most Sustainable City – Newcastle..

  5. Samantha Fryberger
    October 14, 2009, 9:43 am

    Hey! Thanks for the link to our blog. Ms. Kimmel makes a lot of good points.
    There’s actually quite of bit of green movement in Cleveland. In hospitality, our waterparks are going green (Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, for example), our restaurants are not only championing sustainable and locally grown foods, but popular eateries like Greenhouse Tavern have taken it a step further (as mentioned above, it’s the first green-certified restaurant in the State of Ohio and it’s in the heart of Cleveland’s entertaiment district–East Fourth Street) and our attractions have moved in that direction (solar panels at Progressive Field power the TV sets around the ballpark and a giant windmill at Great Lakes Science Center educates while providing power to the museum). Our city, as mentioned above, held a green summit (Sustainable Cleveland 2019) and is investigating the viability of wind turbines near the lakefront. If our Mayor has his way, we will become the green city on a blue lake.
    But these are, of course, the first steps and there is certainly much more we can and will do. However, I do feel the need to point out that being green and being clean are not the same thing. Our city is very clean since the launch of a Downtown Cleveland Ambassadors program. There now are people on the street everyday cleaning up the core of the city and I regularly receive emails and letters from travelers who remark on the cleanliness of our downtown area. In fact, a journalist from LA in town for a media visit marveled over how spic and span everything on Public Square seemed to her. (And thank you “Adventure Vacation” for noticing!)

  6. John
    September 16, 2009, 12:38 am

    Look for Cleveland to continue its green ways in the upcoming decade and easily place itself as the greenest city in the midwest, if it isnt already tere. The city recently hosted a Green Summit that attracted participants from around the world…bye bye rust belt, hello green belt!

  7. Bob yanega
    June 4, 2009, 10:38 pm

    Yes, we are going very green here. We are celebrating the “Year of the River” this year, in honor of how clean it has become. Also, last year we hosted the national solar conference and are developing a pilot project for the world’s first freshwater wind farm. If you are looking for a culturally rich, laid back vacation with lots to see, do, and eat – come to Cleveland!

  8. Adventure Vacation
    June 1, 2009, 2:36 pm

    I visited Cleveland last June and really enjoyed myself there. Before planning my trip, I read a couple a travel books and a few personal opinions on a travel site of people who had visited. Quite a few people regarded it as being a dirty city that offered visitors few entertainment sites; however, when I visited I found it to be a really beautiful city–much cleaner than most! Just wondering what people have to say bad about Cleveland. Also, I saw a UFO in Cleveland; that became the highlight of my trip.