The CLEVELAND BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION was established in Oct. 1992 to coordinate the civic celebration of the 200th anniversary of MOSES CLEAVELAND's arrival at the mouth of the CUYAHOGA RIVER on 22 July 1796. Appointed by Cleveland mayor Michael R. White in cooperation with the NEW CLEVELAND CAMPAIGN, the declared goal of the commission was to encourage the widest possible involvement of the peoples of Greater Cleveland in the bicentennial celebration, so that all citizens felt a sense of participation and pride in the commemoration of Cleveland's rich history and bright future.
The commission, comprised of 29 members from business, government, and local civic organizations, directly enlisted hundreds of citizens through 9 committees, each chaired by a commission member. The standing committees included Arts & Culture, Communications, Education, Events, Finance, History, Legacy Projects (which would remain after the bicentennial), Neighborhoods & Community, and Sports. A 175-member community advisory board counseled the commission on the planning and execution of bicentennial programming and projects. David Abbott, a former Cuyahoga County administrator, served as the commission's executive director. Robert W. Gillespie and Richard W. Pogue served as co-chairs. Gathering the estimated $80 million in funding for bicentennial events and projects was aided by many local nonprofit groups, which acted as representatives of the commission and were responsible for planning events and raising money, as well as by corporate and public sector support. In April 1995 SOCIETY NATIONAL BANK became the first Founding Sponsor of the Bicentennial, donating $600,000 to the commission.
Leading up to the actual bicentennial date, the commission was active in its participation and support of a variety of civic projects, including the opening of Gateway's Jacobs Field and Gund Arena, as well as the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME and Great Lakes Science Center at NORTH COAST HARBOR. Other notable projects included the following: the construction of a $47 million lakefront trolley line, connecting the Gateway complex with North Coast Harbor via the FLATS; the $8.5 million City of Bridges project, in which permanent lights were installed in and around the BRIDGES that span the Flats; the Bicentennial Village project, whereby homes in select Cleveland neighborhoods were renovated or newly constructed; a Trees for Tomorrow project, in coordination with CLEAN-LAND, OHIO, which hoped to plant 10,000 new trees throughout the city by July, 1996; Teaching Cleveland, an educational curriculum guide with resource materials for the county's schoolchildren; the Unity Walk, a mosaic sculpture of ceramic tiles testifying to Greater Cleveland's diversity; as well as several professional sports events, including the World Triathlon championships. In all, the commission planned to sponsor or coordinate about 96 projects, including the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, and a new companion volume, the Dictionary of Cleveland Biography.