On January 16, 1810, the Ohio government established Cuyahoga County. Residents took the county's name from the Indian word "Cuyahoga" or "crooked river." The state made Cuyahoga County from part of Geauga County. Cuyahoga County was originally part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, and Moses Cleaveland brought the first white settlers to the area in 1796. He established the city of Cleveland that same year. With completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal and its location on Lake Erie, Cleveland prospered as a trade center, and the city also became a major industrial site in the late 1800s.
Cuyahoga County is located in the northern portion of Ohio and covers 458 square miles. Its northern border is Lake Erie. The county has experienced a small decline in population, losing 1.3 percent of its 1,398,169 residents between 1995 and 2000. As of 2000, Cuyahoga County still ranked as Ohio's most heavily populated county, averaging almost 3,044 residents per square mile. Cleveland is the county seat and is also the county's largest city, with a population of 447,459 people in 2000. Cleveland is unusual in comparison to Ohio's other large cities, as it has lost population, nearly thirty thousand people between 1990 and 2000. This decline has principally resulted from the loss of industrial jobs in recent years. The next largest city in Cuyahoga County is Parma, a suburb of Cleveland. The county is ethnically diverse, as people from all around the world came to Cleveland during the late 1800s and the early 1900s looking for work in the city's industries.
Approximately forty-five percent of Cuyahoga County's residents earn their livings by working in service industries, including in health care and in communications. Manufacturing and sales combine for almost fifty percent of the county's employment opportunities. Some residents work in the shipping industry, transferring coal, iron ore, and steel across the Great Lakes. A new tourism industry has blossomed in the county, especially with the construction of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland. The county also has three Major League professional sports franchises, the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Cleveland Indians, encouraging tourism. The county's average income was approximately 32,200 dollars per person in 1999, with almost fourteen percent of the population living in poverty. In Cleveland, the poverty rate was much higher. Until 2005, a greater percentage of Clevelanders lived in poverty than residents of any other city.
Most voters in Cuyahoga County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates at the national level.
Among the county's more famous residents were comedian Bob Hope and President of the United States James Garfield. Cuyahoga County also was the home of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, as well as several important inventors, scientists, and business owners, including Charles F. Brush, Alexander Winton, Marcus Hanna, Jeptha H. Wade, and Thomas A. White. Several Ohio governors also lived in the county, including Reuben Wood, John Brough, Myron T. Herrick, Harry L. Davis, Frank J. Lausche, Thomas J. Herbert, Richard F. Celeste, and George Voinovich.'