Our Citified County
A Study of Cuyahoga County and Its Land Use Now, and for the Future
"There is more than enough room for everyone, room for work and play, and no need for overcrowding any land anywhere, if we don't waste it."
In 1954, the Regional Planning Commission (RPC), the predecessor of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, published Our Citified County. This land use study examined how urban and rural activities were distributed across the county, and supplied information so that local leaders could make informed land use decisions. It also offered a vision for coordinated regional planning.
The May 1954 issue of the RPC's Regional Topics newsletter said, "This study, in a general way, makes recommendations for the land use pattern when the ultimate population is reached. It is our first step in preparing a comprehensive plan for the metropolitan area. This overall planning is necessary since, as the title of the report implies, the county is really just one city."
The RPC's 1954 annual report reads, "With the aid of aerial photographs, research upon land use in Cuyahoga County began in 1948. From the analysis have come the salient facts of fundamental importance to this subject. Fortunately, our county has enough land to fill the residential, business, and recreational needs of its citizens for 50 years with an anticipated surplus at that time of 80,000 acres (over a quarter of the county). This surplus is unlikely, however, if certain wasteful practices now prevailing are not eliminated. The report, 'Our Citified County', recommends revision of land valuation to encourage and protect agricultural uses, preservation of good sites for industrial growth, zoning and subdivision regulations to help good land practices and discourage bad ones, and reassembly of the poorly laid out and poorly located subdivisions that are still undeveloped."
Sadly, most of the report's suggestions went unheeded. By 2000, Greater Cleveland's urbanized area had spread and Cuyahoga County was almost entirely built out, but with a population similar to the 1950 figure. Many of the issues identified in the study remain relevant today, as land use decisions and urban sprawl continue to impact our lives.
Download the report (4.5 MB)