Almost the most highly populated
Cuyahoga County, with its county seat of Cleveland, used to be the most populous county in the state of Ohio until the 2019 Census count. That’s when Franklin County, home to the city of Columbus, overtook the top spot and pushed Cuyahoga to second place. Columbus and Cleveland also happen to be the first and second most populous cities in the state, respectively. In spite of having a somewhat smaller population, Cuyahoga County is actually more densely populated than Franklin. Cuyahoga has 2,800 people per square mile compared to 2,186 people per square mile in Franklin.
Former Connecticut territory
Adena and Hopewell Mound Builders were the first major civilizations to live in the region that would become Cuyahoga County. They were followed by the Wyandot, Huron, Shawnee, Miami, and Delaware Native American tribes.
In 1662, European settlers entered the region and claimed the area for England. They designated it as part of what was Connecticut at the time. In 1787, the Northwest Territory was established, encompassing all of present-day Ohio. Connecticut, however, maintained control over a portion of the state along Lake Erie—including the Cuyahoga County region—called the Western Reserve. In 1796, Connecticut sold the portion of the Western Reserve that included Cuyahoga County to the Connecticut Land Company. When the company sent General Moses Cleaveland to survey the land, he established the city of Cleveland upon discovering the region.
On March 1, 1803, Ohio officially became a state, and on May 1, 1810, Cuyahoga County was officially established. Remaining the biggest and most influential city in the county, Cleveland has been the county seat ever since.
Cuyahoga County is named for the Cuyahoga River, which runs through the middle of the county from Cleveland in the north to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at the southeastern border. Cuyahoga is an Iroquoian word meaning “crooked river.”
The Rocky River is another major geographical feature of the county. It's located west of the Cuyahoga River and travels from Lake Erie through the southern end of the county.
Located in northeastern Ohio on the coast of Lake Erie, the county shares an international border with Canada across the lake. Its total area is 1,246 square miles, but most of that is actually water area from Lake Erie. The land area only accounts for 457 square miles of the county.
A welcoming community
With a population of 1,235,072 people, Cuyahoga County is the most diverse county in the state. It’s also in the top 200 most diverse counties in the nation. Of the residents, 63.5% are White, 30.5% are African American, 6.3% are Hispanic or Latino, 3.4% are Asian, and 0.3% are American Indian.
Despite an overall decline in the county’s population that has been ongoing since the 1970s, the immigrant population is growing. The county’s population includes 7.6% of residents born in another country. That likely has to do with Cleveland’s status as the best city in the country for gaining citizenship. It has been recognized for having a quick processing time and a highly efficient citizenship office. Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese are the most spoken languages other than English.
Cuyahoga County is exactly average when it comes to the employment rate. About 63.1% of the working age population is employed, which is just 0.1% different from the overall employment rate for the United States. Of that working population, 77% are private wage workers, 3% are government workers, and 19% are self-employed. The median household income is a little lower than the average for the rest of the state at $50,366.
The most commonly held jobs in the county include office/administrative support, management, and sales. The biggest industries are healthcare/social assistance, manufacturing, and retail.
As the largest industry in the county, healthcare also accounts for some of the largest employers in the area. Cleveland Clinic is the top employer, University Hospitals is the second biggest, and The MetroHealth System is the eighth biggest.
Government is another major employer for the county. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is a federal government office, is the third largest employer across the county. The government offices for the state, county, and the city of Cleveland as well as the U.S. Postal Service are also among the top employers.
Many additional county residents are employed in the education sector. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Case Western Reserve University, and Cuyahoga Community College are all among the top 20 largest employers for the county.
The county seat, Cleveland, is a big city with tons of attractions to keep visitors entertained.
Want to learn something during your visit? Cleveland has plenty of museums and science-focused institutions to keep you busy. At the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, you can see a planetarium show, view life-size dinosaur fossils, or learn about the origins of humans. You can continue your science explorations at the Great Lakes Science Center. They have interactive exhibits focused on science and technology that are fun for all ages.
If you’d rather learn about pop culture history, you can’t go wrong at the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Explore the history and memorabilia from the most legendary musicians in the business. If that’s not enough pop culture for you, take a visit to the actual house featured in the movie A Christmas Story. Now transformed into a museum, you can walk through the house, admire original props from the film, and even stay overnight for a completely immersive experience.
Beyond all the museums, Cleveland has some really great spots to enjoy the outdoors. The Cleveland Zoo is a particularly popular destination. See elephants, koalas, gorillas, and so many more incredible creatures at this 183-acre park. For a more tranquil outdoor experience, visit the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Stroll through 10 acres of gardens plus a 18,000 square foot glasshouse filled with exotic plants, butterflies, birds, and reptiles.
If you work up an appetite on your Cleveland visit, stop by the West Side Market. This long-running institution features more than 100 local businesses selling fresh meats, cheeses, produce, baked goods, prepared foods, flowers, souvenirs, and more. Founded in 1912, this historic public market is a well-loved community fixture.
While Cleveland has tons to offer, it’s definitely not the only spot with attractions in the county. Part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park sits on the southern edge of the county. This park contains 33,000 acres of land and surrounds 20 miles of the Cuyahoga River. It’s a popular spot for hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddling, and cross-country skiing. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad travels through the national park and is a unique way to explore it. You can take a three-and-a-half-hour train ride through the park to enjoy the scenery and spot wildlife along the way.
If that’s not enough nature for you, there are also 24,000 acres of Metroparks across the county. That includes 300 miles of trails and eight lakefront parks. Some popular parks include North Chagrin Reservation, Rocky River Reservation, and Euclid Creek Reservation.
Cuyahoga County is also home to four professional sports teams, including the Cleveland Browns (NFL), Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA), Cleveland Indians (MLB) and Cleveland Monsters (AHL). So there's rarely a time of year that you can't catch a professional sporting event. Enjoy all things Cuyahoga County!!