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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

LAKEWOOD - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

LAKEWOOD is a city on the shore of Lake Erie adjacent to Cleveland on the east and ROCKY RIVER on the west, occupying 5.6 sq. mi. Originally part of Rockport Twp. (created in 1819), Lakewood became a village in 1903 and was incorporated as a city in 1911. Early pioneer settlers such as James Nicholson, Dr. JARED KIRTLAND†, and Mars Wagar transformed the area from a wilderness into a settled community. By 1871 the area's population had reached 400, and voters created a separate school district east of Rocky River. The Detroit Rd. area became known as East Rockport. Continued population growth led to a movement for incorporation as the hamlet of Lakewood in 1885, but a legal dispute with the Rockport Plank Rd. Co. over ownership of Detroit Ave. delayed the formal use of the name Lakewood until 1889. The discovery of natural gas and oil wells in the area greatly aided development. Wells were drilled as early as 1883, with one yielding almost 22,000 cu. ft. of gas daily. Additional natural gas reserves, discovered in 1911, were exhausted within a few years.

The construction of a municipal light plant in 1896 and a streetcar line in 1903 facilitated the village's growth. By 1910 the population was more than 15,000. In 1917 a real estate boom followed the opening of the DETROIT-SUPERIOR BRIDGE; the price of lakefront properties rose to $15,000 an acre. By 1920 the population exceeded 40,000. Calling itself a "city of homes," in 1980 Lakewood was also a city of 1,100 small businesses. The largest INDUSTRY was then the Carbon Products Div. of the Union Carbide Corp., established in Lakewood as the NATIONAL CARBON CO. in 1892. In 1916 Lakewood created its independent public library system, which in 1980 had 2 buildings on Detroit Ave. and Madison Ave. In 1980 Lakewood School District had 8,000 students in 10 elementary and 3 middle schools and 1 high school. In addition, 7 parochial schools served the city. Lakewood's facilities also included LAKEWOOD HOSPITAL (opened in 1907), parks and recreational facilities, and the Rocky River Reservation of the CLEVELAND METROPARKS. In the 1990s the city renovated shopping areas and the Lakewood City Center, and constructed a new lakefront pavilion and bandshell at Lakewood Park. Lakewood's population in 1995 was 62,000 and in 2000 was 56,646.

Borchert, James and Susan. Lakewood: The First Hundred Years (1989).

Butler, Margaret. The Lakewood Story (1949).

Lindstrom, E. George. Story of Lakewood, Ohio (ca. 1935).

Last Modified: 22 Jun 2003 01:24:18 PM

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