Cleveland Metroparks

To commemorate the centennial anniversary of Cleveland Metroparks in 2017, the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities and Cleveland Metroparks worked in collaboration to create a series of new stories that delve into the history of Cleveland's renowned regional park system.

Explore the prehistoric ooze, quarry towns, scenic railways, and dance halls that once could be found where the Cleveland Metroparks now thrive. Witness the park system take on both form and meaning in response to war, an economic disaster, political scandals, suburbanization, the rise of environmentalism, and changes in American social and cultural norms. Discover a history as diverse and varied as the flora and fauna that greets visitors to the park system's picturesque grounds.

Be sure to check back weekly for a new story focusing on the history of the Cleveland Metroparks.

It was a race against time to save the city of Nome from the Alaskan Black Death. The only hope for the isolated, snowbound community was the delivery of diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled relay. An unlikely, fury national hero emerged from the treacherous serum run: Balto.
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Karamu House, originally the Playhouse Settlement, is the nation's oldest African American theater. Its development reflected its members' experiences not only in the segregated city from which it grew but also at a rustic retreat hidden away in Brecksville Reservation.
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Look About Lodge in Cleveland Metroparks South Chagrin Reservation is a symbol of a time when General Science was introduced into the curriculum of Cleveland schools. The lodge offered a home to science educators entrenched in a battle against juvenile delinquency and public perceptions of a failing educational system.
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Over ninety percent of all animals currently displayed in American zoos were born in captivity. Highly regulated breeding and exchange programs, however, replaced a much different method of acquiring zoo animals beginning in the 1960s.
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As part of a nationwide campaign to combat the threat of German U-Boats, submarine chasers were built along the banks of the Rocky River opposite what is now the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation. The labors of the Rocky River Dry Dock Co. signaled a revival of America's wooden shipbuilding industry during the Great War.
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Awakened from the grave on a chilly October evening in 1975, the ghostly manifestation of Western Reserve pioneer Thomas Briggs greeted trespasser at the Frostville Museum complex in Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation with scowls and threats of retribution over the displacement of his beloved home. Brave tour leaders steered visitors towards the not-quite-living history exhibition of…
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Located along the Wildflower Loop Trail of Cleveland Metroparks Brecksville Reservation, a boulder inset with a bronze tablet honors Progressive Era Clevelander Harriet Keeler as a "Teacher - Author - Citizen." Having lived at a time before women could vote, Keeler forged her own pathway towards citizenship in an effort to reform Cleveland politics and society.
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As prices for gasoline, heating oil, electricity and natural gas skyrocketed during the 1970s, Americans increasingly explored alternatives to fossil fuel energy resources. In an effort to promote its mission of conservation, the Cleveland Metroparks opened a unique, state-of-the-art interpretation center that harnessed the power of the sun.
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On October 10, 1915, the natural amphitheater at what is now Cleveland Metroparks Brookside Reservation hosted possibly the largest crowd to ever assemble for an amateur sporting event. Attendance of the baseball game was estimated at between 80,000 and 115,000 by newspapers, park staff and city…
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In 1914 and 1915, Brookside Stadium hosted a series of amateur baseball matches that set local and national attendance records. The bowl-shaped natural amphitheater and park setting offered an idyllic atmosphere for the games, which regularly reported audiences of between 30,000 and 80,000. While…
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Scenic Amusement Park had it all - dancing, rides, recreation grounds, theater and beer gardens. While a favorite destination of Clevelanders, not everyone approved of the frivolity offered at the park.
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Cleveland's Brookside Zoo faced a crisis at the onset of the Great Depression. With Clevelanders going hungry, the city government was faced with the decision of whether to spend its limited resources caring for and feeding zoo animals.
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Buried in the shale cliffs of Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation, the bony armor of a prehistoric monster was uncovered by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in 1928. The discovery of these fossilized remains, along with the subsequent amassing of Devonian era specimens from the Cleveland Metroparks, helped set the stage for the museum to emerge as a prestigious scientific…
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The 1930s signaled the beginnings of a new era for the Cleveland Metropolitan Park System. Under the guidance of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Metropolitan Park Board constructed three buildings that changed the way the public used and understood Cleveland parks.
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The scenic Quarry Park Picnic Area in South Chagrin Reservation masks the history of a small quarrying town that once thrived in the region, but clues to its hidden past can still be found if one knows where to explore.
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In an era characterized by limited educational and career opportunities for American women, Harriet Keeler found celebrity in Cleveland as a nature writer, educator and social reformer. A memorial to the author in Cleveland Metroparks Brecksville Reservation marks her many achievements, as well as the legacy she carved out pursuing a love of teaching and nature.
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All stories sponsored by Cleveland Metroparks