Lorain, Ohio
Flag of Lorain, Ohio
Official seal of Lorain, Ohio
International City,[1] Steel City[2]
Interactive map of Lorain
Lorain is located in Ohio
Lorain is located in the United States
Coordinates: 41°26′24″N 82°10′08″W / 41.44000°N 82.16889°W / 41.44000; -82.16889
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedFebruary, 1817
IncorporatedJuly 16, 1834 (township)[4]
 • TypeMayor–council
 • City24.08 sq mi (62.37 km2)
 • Land23.61 sq mi (61.14 km2)
 • Water0.47 sq mi (1.23 km2)
617 ft ([6] m)
 • City65,211
 • Density2,762.36/sq mi (1,066.57/km2)
 • Urban
 (Lorain–Elyria, OH)[7]
199,067 (US: 196th)
 • Urban density2,196.9/sq mi (848.2/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Zip code(s)
Area code440
FIPS code39-44856
GNIS feature ID1086514[6]

Lorain (/lɔːˈrn/)[8] is a city in Lorain County, Ohio, United States. It is located in Northeast Ohio on Lake Erie at the mouth of the Black River, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Cleveland. As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of 65,211,[9] making it Ohio's ninth-largest city, the third-largest in Greater Cleveland, and the largest in Lorain County by population.


See also: Black River Township, Lorain County, Ohio

"At the Loop", Lorain, c. 1913

According to local government records, the city began as an unincorporated village established before 1834 as “Black River Village”, and was renamed in 1837 as "Charleston." According to 19th-century historians, the new name was rejected by its own citizens, who continued to use Black River Village. The village was incorporated as Lorain in 1874 and became a city in 1896.[10] The first mayor was Conrad Reid, who took office on April 6, 1874. The municipal boundaries incorporated most of the former Black River Township judicial boundaries, and portions of the Sheffield Township, Amherst Township, and Brownhelm Township judicial borders.

1924 tornado

The 1924 Lorain–Sandusky tornado hit the city on Saturday, June 28, 1924. The tornado formed over the Sandusky Bay during the late afternoon hours and hit Sandusky, where it killed eight people and destroyed 100 homes and 25 businesses.[11] After moving east over Lake Erie for several miles, the tornado then struck Lorain, killing 72. Among the dead were 15 people inside a collapsed theater, which makes it the worst tornado-related death toll from a single building in Ohio. Eight people were also killed inside the Bath House near the location where the tornado came onshore.[11]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.14 square miles (62.52 km2), of which 23.67 square miles (61.31 km2) is land and 0.47 square miles (1.22 km2) is water.[12]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

As of the 2020 United States census, Lorain had a population of 65,211. Of which, 49.4% were non-hispanic White, 29.2% were Hispanic/Latino, 15.2% non-hispanic Black, 0.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American or Pacific Islander, and 5.6% mixed or other.[14]

As of the census[15] of 2010, there were 64,097 people, 25,529 households, and 16,368 families living in the city. The population density was 2,707.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,045.5/km2). There were 29,144 housing units at an average density of 1,231.3 per square mile (475.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.9% White, 17.6% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 8.3% from other races, and 5.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.2% of the population, over 19% is made up of Puerto Ricans.[16]

There were 25,529 households, of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.1% were married couples living together, 21.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.9% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.09.

The median age in the city was 36.8 years. 26.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.6% were from 25 to 44; 26% were from 45 to 64; and 13.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.


Launching of the SS Greater Detroit in Lorain, 1923

Lorain has a deindustrialized economy and was home to the American Ship Building Company Lorain Yard, Ford Motor Company Lorain Assembly Plant, and United States Steel Corporation's steel mill on the city's south side. The city faces many similar issues to other Rust Belt cities, including population decline and urban decay. Poverty in the city is above the national average at 26.2%,[17] lower than Cleveland's 36%.[18] but higher than neighboring Elyria's 22.2%[19]

CenturyTel of Ohio is based in Lorain.

Top employers

According to the city's 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[20] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Mercy Health 1,657
2 Lorain City School District 870
3 Lorain Tubular 796
4 Republic Steel 633
5 CAMACO, Inc. 500
6 The City Of Lorain 468
7 Grace Management Services 314
8 Cleveland Clinic 300
9 The Nord Center 228
10 Walmart 211

Arts and culture

The Lorain International Festival is an annual summer festival featuring a pageant.[citation needed]

The Lorain Palace Theatre opened in 1928 and continues operating.[21]

Parks and recreation

There are 51 parks managed by the city parks and recreation department, a total of 583 acres.[22]

Lakeview Park

Lakeview Park is bisected by West Erie Avenue, with the northern section being managed by the Lorain County Metro Parks and the southern by the city. The park was established in 1917 under Mayor Leonard M. Moore as a way of providing more publicly-accessible space on the lakefront.

The park features a beach, rose garden, various recreational facilities, bathhouse, concession stand, several gazebos and picnic shelters, and lawn bowling.

There is a sculpture shaped as an Easter basket built in 1935 with local Amherst sandstone, and dedicated on April 3, 1941, as the "floral basket". Traditionally, families in Lorain, in celebration of Easter, take an annual photo at the basket.[23][24]

The rose garden was dedicated in 1932, and has 2,500 roses in 48 beds. The shape of the garden, a wheel with eight spokes, is the Rotary International emblem in honor of the 17 community organizations that funded the garden initially, including the Lorain Rotary. The garden was restored in 2005 and roses are planted to honor and commemorate those that had ties to the community or garden itself in city history.[25]


See also: List of mayors of Lorain, Ohio

Lorain City Hall

The Lorain municipal government is a Mayor-Council structure, and operates as a statutory city under the laws and regulations set by the Ohio Constitution, making it one of the largest Ohio cities to operate without a charter. The City of Lorain operates on a ward-based system. Elected positions include the mayor, eleven City Council members, the Council President, Auditor, Treasurer, Law Director, Clerk of Courts, and two judges.[26]

The mayor functions as the chief of the executive branch, with job duties including: determining city laws, spurring economic development, planning and administering city projects, delivering city services, negotiating city contracts, and budgeting.[27] As of January 1, 2020, Jack Bradley is mayor.[28]

The City Council consists of 11 members; eight members are elected by ward and three members are elected at-large, with one council member presiding as the President of Council. The Lorain City Council responsibilities include: determining the salary of city officials and employees, enacting ordinances and resolutions of city services, enacts tax levies, appropriating and borrowing money, licensing, regulating business, commerce, and other municipal duties. Council members serve two-year terms.[29] Through the City Budget, the City Council directly controls the operation of the planning, zoning, street construction, maintenance and repair, water and sewer services, municipal court services, and general administrative services.[26]


Politics in the city have traditionally been closely tied to the local Democratic Party.

On the State level, Lorain is represented by State Senator Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) of Ohio Senate District 13, and by State Representative Joe Miller (D-Amherst) of Ohio House District 53.

On the Federal level, all of Lorain is represented in the United States House of Representatives by Republican U.S. Representative Bob Latta of Ohio's 5th congressional district. Lorain is represented in the United States Senate by Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Republican U.S. Senator J. D. Vance.

Voter turnout for the 2016 presidential election in Lorain was 24,198 out of a registered 40,885 voters, a voter turnout rate of 59.19%. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton captured 15,192 votes, or 62.78%; Republican candidate Donald Trump captured 7,584 votes, or 31.34%; Independent candidate Gary Johnson captured 613 votes, or 2.53%; Green candidate Jill Stein captured 222 votes, or 0.92%. Other candidates had marginal amounts of write-in votes; additionally, it is possible that some voters did not select a presidential candidate when casting their ballot.[30][31]


Lorain City School District operates ten elementary schools, three middle schools, and Lorain High School.[32]

Lorain is served by the Lorain Public Library System.[33]


Lorain is the city of license for CW station WUAB, channel 43, which has its studios and offices in Cleveland along with Shaker Heights-licensed WOIO.


Aerial view of Lorain and the Lorain Harbor


Lorain primarily has a local street network with four state highways maintained by the Ohio Department of Transportation and one U.S. route. There are no interstate highways that pass through the city limits. Public transit is provided by Lorain County Transit, which operates two fixed-route bus lines. Norfolk Southern Railway operates a freight railroad running parallel to the Lake Erie shoreline.

Public transit

Lorain County Transit operates two fixed-route bus lines in Lorain: Route 1 and Route 2. Route 1 is a 34-stop bus route connecting Meridian Plaza in downtown Lorain to the LifeSkills Center in Elyria, operating one bus in each direction every two hours. Similarly, Route 2 operates every two hours and serves 36 stops, connecting the same points as Route 1.[citation needed]



There are three bridges that cross the Black River in the Lorain Harbor; two of these bridges are for motor vehicles and pedestrians and one is for rail transport only. The two motor vehicle/pedestrian bridges are the Charles Berry Bridge and the Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge.These two bridges, formerly known as the Erie Avenue Bridge and 21st Street Bridge, respectively, opened on October 12, 1940.[34] At the time of opening, they were coined the "Twin Bridges."

The Charles Berry Bridge is a double-leaf 1,052-foot (321-meter) bascule bridge; of the total length, 333 feet (101 meters) are the bascule span. At the time of construction, the bridge was the largest bascule bridge in the world and is now often credited as the second-largest in the world. Annually, the Charles Berry Bridge has an average of 700 openings.[34]

The rail bridge, historically known as the 11th Street Bridge,[35] is a single-track vertical-lift truss bridge operated by the Norfolk-Southern Railway and constructed in 1974.[36]


The Lorain Police Department was established in 1853 and has 113 police officers and 34 civilian employees.[37]

Notable people

In popular culture

Broadway, looking north, c. 1908

Lorain is the setting for Lorain-born Toni Morrison's first novel, The Bluest Eye,[38] where she writes:

In that young and growing Ohio town whose side streets, even, were paved with concrete, which sat on the edge of a calm blue lake, which boasted an affinity with Oberlin, the underground railroad station, just thirteen miles away, this melting pot on the lip of America facing the cold but receptive Canada—What could go wrong?

See also


  1. ^ "Lorain's International Legacy". Lorain Historical Society. c. 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  2. ^ Lee, Trymaine (May 7, 2016). "The Heartland: Life and Loss in Steel City". msnbc.com. MSNBC. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "History of Lorain - Chronology". Lorain Public Library System. Lorain Public Library. Archived from the original on October 24, 2016. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "4-47 Founding of Lorain | Remarkable Ohio". Remarkable Ohio. Archived from the original on April 6, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  5. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  6. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lorain, Ohio
  7. ^ "List of 2020 Census Urban Areas". census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  8. ^ "Ohio Pronunciation Guide". E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  9. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Lorain city, Ohio; Cleveland city, Ohio". Census.gov. Retrieved July 19, 2022.
  10. ^ Zupka, James G. "CITY OF LORAIN LORAIN COUNTY, OHIO SINGLE AUDIT REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2018" (PDF). City of Lorain. City of Lorain. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Schmidlin, Thomas W.; Schmidlin, Jeanne Appelhans (August 9, 1996). Thunder in the Heartland: A Chronicle of Outstanding Weather Events in Ohio. Kent State University Press. pp. 254–258. ISBN 9780873385497. Retrieved March 15, 2019 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  13. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  14. ^ "Explore Census Data".
  15. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  16. ^ city, ohio&y=2012&tid=ACSDP1Y2012.DP05&hidePreview=true
  17. ^ "Lorain city, Ohio Individuals below poverty level". United States Census Bureau American Factfinder. U.S. Department of Commerce. Retrieved December 19, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Cleveland city, Ohio Individuals below poverty level". United States Census Bureau American Factfinder. U.S. Department of Commerce. Retrieved December 19, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Community Facts". factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved December 19, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report: Year Ended December 31, 2013" (PDF). City of Lorain. p. 187.
  21. ^ Lorain Palace Civic Center in Lorain, OH - Cinema Treasures
  22. ^ "Lorain 2018 Comprehensive Plan" (PDF). Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  23. ^ Lorain Historical Society Blanket Brochure. Lorain: Lorain Historical Society. September 2016.
  24. ^ "Photo Friday: Easter basket awaits bunny in Lorain, Ohio". Midwest Guest. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  25. ^ "Lakeview Park at Lorain County Metro Parks". metroparks.cc. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  26. ^ a b "City of Lorain Financial Information". City of Lorain. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  27. ^ "Mission & Purpose". www.cityoflorain.org. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  28. ^ Payerchin, Richard, Lorain Mayor Bradley takes office, leads planning meeting, The Morning Journal, January 2, 2020.
  29. ^ "City Council". www.cityoflorain.org. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  30. ^ "2016 General Election, Lorain County, Ohio - Turnout Report" (PDF). November 23, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2016. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  31. ^ Lorain County, OH General Election November 8, 2016 - Official Results (PDF). Lorain County Board of Elections. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  32. ^ "Homepage". Lorain City Schools. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  33. ^ "Locations & Hours". Lorain Public Library. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  34. ^ a b "Charles Berry Bascule Bridge rehabilitation". ODOT. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  35. ^ "11th Street Bridge in Lorain, Ohio". The Cleveland Memory Project. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  36. ^ "NS - Black River Lift Bridge". Bridgehunter.com. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  37. ^ "About Our Department". Lorain Police Department. January 30, 2014. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  38. ^ "SparkNotes: The Bluest Eye: Key Facts".