Over the past 50 years, however, Americans have continually been moving farther south and west across the continent, taking much of their wealth, industry, jobs and development with them. Like all older and established Midwestern manufacturing cities, Cleveland has thus continued to shrink. But although the population of the city proper has dwindled to about 450,000, the residency of the overall Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (or SMSA) that encompasses Cleveland and many of its immediately surrounding communities today stands at just about 3 million people.
That places the Cleveland-Akron environs on a rough population par with the metropolitan vicinity of Minneapolis-St. Paul, at about 14th-largest in the land. It holds more citizens than the metropolitan regions of Pittsburgh or Portland or St. Louis or Denver or Newark or Miami or Tampa, and only slightly fewer than those of Boston or Dallas.
But Cleveland may be truly unique among American cities for the sheer number of independent surrounding cities, towns and villages — almost 100 in all — that cluster about its flanks, adding to that overall population, as well as to the vitality and vibrancy of the region.
Among the many older, inner-ring suburbs, cities, villages and towns that immediately abut the city’s perimeter are: Bedford, Bedford Heights, Bratenahl, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Brook Park, Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, East Cleveland, Euclid, Fairview Park, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Linndale, Maple Heights, Newburgh Heights, Parma, Parma Heights, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, University Heights and Warrensville Heights.
Creating a second concentric ring about these are the additional cities of Avon, Avon Lake, Bay Village, Bentleyville, Berea, Brecksville, Broadview Heights, Chagrin Falls, Eastlake, Gates Mills, Glenwillow, Highland Hills, Hunting Valley, Independence, Kirtland, Kirtland Hills, Lakeline, Lyndhurst, Macedonia, Mayfield, Mayfield Heights, Mentor, Middleburg Heights, Moreland Hills, Northfield, North Olmsted, North Ridgeville, North Royalton, Oakwood, Olmsted Falls, Orange, Pepper Pike, Richmond Heights, Rocky River, Sagamore, Seven Hills, Solon, Strongsville, Timberlake, Twinsburg, Valley View, Waite Hill, Walton Hills, Westlake, Wickliffe, Willoughby, and Willoughby Hills.
Still farther afield lie Akron, Amherst, Aurora, Bainbridge, Barberton, Bath, Boston Heights, Brunswick, Burton, Chardon, Chesterland, Columbia Center, Concord, Cuyahoga Falls, Elyria, Fairlawn, Fairport Harbor, Fowlers Mill, Lorain, Garrettsville, Grafton, Hinckley, Hiram, Hudson, Kent, Mantua, Medina, Mogadore, Munroe Falls, Newbury, Norton, Novelty, Oberlin, Painesville, Ravenna, Reminderville, Richfield, Sheffield, Silver Lake, South Russell, Stow, Streetsboro, Tallmadge, Vermilion and Wadsworth, among many others.
As a result, Cleveland’s vast and diverse cluster of communities sustains a substantial and thriving population, while offering residents such fine amenities as world-class art museum, orchestra and medical facilities; a scenic lake; a rich cultural fabric; a number of professional sport franchises; many sizable and well-respected colleges and universities; a pervasive network of parks; a panoply of housing options; and a rich and affordable quality of life.