The U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE, CLEVELAND DISTRICT OFFICE, is responsible for enforcing customs and tariff laws and collecting import revenues for the Midwest region. The District Office, located at 55 Erieview Plaza, services Ohio and parts of Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia, as well as 200 mi. of Lake Erie Shoreline. In 1986 the Cleveland office had a staff of approx. 35 inspectors and investigators to monitor the traffic between Canada and the U.S., with customs inspection provided at CLEVELAND-HOPKINS INTL. and BURKE LAKEFRONT airports and at the Cleveland dock during the Great Lakes shipping season. The Customs Service has undergone a number of organizational and name changes since Congress first authorized the collections of duties and tariffs called for in the Constitution. Part of the U.S. Treasury Dept., the service became a division in 1875; a bureau in 1927; and was renamed the U.S. Customs Service in 1973.
During the 1800s Customs was aided by the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (RCS). Created in 1789 to be a floating police force, the RCS employed boats for the collection of revenues. The first revenue cutter to visit the Port of Cleveland was the Erie during its initial voyage in 1833. The city's first customs inspector, JOHN W. WALWORTH, was appointed in 1806, and in 1829 the Customs House was located behind the post office in Miller's Block on the north side of Superior St. between Seneca (W. 3rd) and Bank (W. 6th) streets. It moved to the new government building on Superior at the northeast corner of PUBLIC SQUARE in 1859 and to the new Federal Bldg. in 1911.