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Cleveland: The Mistake by the Lake?

             Cleveland, Ohio has taken a lot of verbal abuse over the years. While its own Chamber of Commerce advertises the city as "the best location in the nation," people in other areas of the nation often refer to it as "the mistake by the lake." This paper will examine the site and settlement of Cleveland to determine which of these two descriptions comes closest to the truth. This will be accomplished by looking at the characteristics of Cleveland's site and situation and the history of settlement in the Western Reserve.
             In the post-Revolutionary War period, settlers began to move into the Old Northwest. The Ohio Valley area was settled in the 1790s, but the land of northern Ohio remained relatively uninhabited by white men. The northeastern corner of the State of Ohio was known as the Connecticut Western Reserve and comprised approximately 5,000 square miles in the northeastern corner of the State of Ohio (see map on next page) . The State of Connecticut claimed title to these lands, located "between the 41st parallel and Erie, westward 120 miles from the western boundary of Pennsylvania." About 500,000 acres in the western area of this reserve were set aside as "Fire Lands," to be sold to compensate various cities in Connecticut for losses by fire during the Revolution. .
             In 1795, the State of Connecticut sold its interest in the Western Reserve to the Connecticut Land Company. The company's first decision was to send a survey party into the area to choose a site for a capital and survey the land, creating townships of 25 square miles each instead of the standard 36. Land was set aside in each township to provide for the support of schools and religious aid (500 acres each). In addition, 240 acres were reserved for the first minister who settled in each town. .
             The survey party, led by General Moses Cleaveland, made its way to Buffalo in the spring of 1796. There, Cleaveland negotiated an agreement with the Seneca Indians, who relinquished their claim to the lands for a sum of $1,500 and two beef cattle and several barrels of whiskey.

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