A City of Bridges
To identify the need for bridges across the Cuyahoga River.
- What is the importance of bridges to Cleveland past and present?
- How might the building of bridges across the Cuyahoga contribute
to the growth of Cleveland?
- Survey students on how many of their parents cross the Cuyahoga
River to get to work each day? How many cross the river to visit
family or friends? How many cross the river for special events,
activities, etc.? How often do they cross the river in an average
- Explain to students that bridges were not always built across
the river, connecting the east and west sides of Cleveland. In
fact, the west side of the river was known as Ohio City and did
not become a part of Cleveland until 1854. The people of 1896
needed to cross the Cuyahoga River for similar reasons that people
do today -- work. If bridges were not convenient for people to
use in 1896, how else might they cross from east to west side?
(ferry boats) Why would people cross by boat rather than bridge?
(would be faster and easier if you traveled to work by foot) What
problems could this mode of transportation cause? (dangers of
boat sinking, fear of collisions with other boats)
- Discuss with students the effects the building of bridges
had on the development of Cleveland as a city. How did they help
Cleveland grow? (population grew because it was easier for people
to travel to Cleveland, areas developed faster, businesses could
increase their markets, etc.) How did they impact on businesses?
(increased availability of work force, easier to get supplies,
increased markets, etc.)
- Distribute reading and discuss the disaster as it was reported.
How could this disaster have been avoided? How could this disaster
lead to the building of more bridges on the Cuyahoga River?
- Writing assignment. Students are to write a letter to City
Council in 1896, describing their anger that such a disaster could
occur in Cleveland and suggestions on how this type of a disaster
can be avoided in the future. They can write their letter from
the view point of the family of a German worker who lost his life;
a fellow worker who survived the disaster; the boy who ran the
scow; the passing steamer; the ore company that employed the workers;
or a concerned citizen.