Dike 14, Cleveland, Ohio: Containing Pollution in the Age of Ecology


  • David Stradling University of Cincinnati, USA


In the mid-1960s, growing public concern about the health of the Great Lakes led to a concerted effort to end the practice of dumping dredge spoils into open waters. The Army Corps of Engineers, which conducted or contracted for the dredging of harbors on the United States side of the lakes, developed an alternative: the creation of containment areas along the shore. Behind steel and stone walls that held back pollutants that had accumulated in the silt of industrial and commercial harbors, spoils dried out and created new land. In the case of Cleveland, Ohio, where the terribly polluted Cuyahoga River ensured that spoils would be tainted, the Army Corps created several diked disposal areas—including Dike 14, an 88-acre enclosure on the city’s eastern shore. Even before it was full, the area had begun to transition into a coastal forest, providing habitat for migrating birds and other species. Dike 14 is now known as the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve.

Author Biography

David Stradling, University of Cincinnati, USA

David Stradling has taught urban and environmental history at the University of Cincinnati since 2000. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996, after having earned a BA and MAT from Colgate University. His most recent book was coauthored with his brother, Richard Stradling. Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland narrates the environmental crisis together with the urban crisis, allowing for a fuller accounting of both. He has also published two books on New York: The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State and Making Mountains: New York City and the Catskills. His career began with a study of early efforts to control air pollution and resulted in Smokestacks and Progressives: Environmentalists, Engineers and Air Quality in America, 1881–1951. He serves as coeditor of the Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy series at Temple University Press.