Founded in 1912, the City Club has long been known as "Cleveland's Citadel of Free Speech." The City Club was the brainchild of Mayo Fesler, a young reformer from St. Louis who came to Cleveland to direct the reorganization of the Municipal Association. Fesler convinced local business and civic leaders that Cleveland needed a City Club like those that existed in several other cities at the time.
As the oldest, continuous free speech forum in the US, the City Club has always encouraged a nonpartisan, open exchange of ideas relating to the key issues of the day. The weekly City Club Forum - the club's trademark event - has proven to be highly successful, drawing locally, nationally, and internationally distinguished speakers to Cleveland. Each Forum includes a mandatory question and answer session at the end of the week's speech or debate, allowing for genuine audience participation.
The City Club has moved several times, always in downtown, in its 110+ year history. After four decades at 850 Euclid Avenue, the club relocated to 1317 Euclid in Playhouse Square in 2023.