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.