Ashtabula is a city in Ashtabula County, Ohio, United States, and the center of the Ashtabula Micropolitan Statistical Area (as defined by the United States Census Bureau in 2003). A major location on the Underground Railroad in the middle 19th century, the city today is a major coal port on Lake Erie at the mouth of the Ashtabula River northeast of Cleveland. The name Ashtabula comes from ashtepihəle, which means 'always enough fish to be shared around' in the Lenape language. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 19,124, a decrease of 1,838 (8.8%). from the 20,962 residents recorded in the 2000 census.
Poet Carl Sandburg wrote a poem titled "Crossing Ohio when Poppies Bloom in Ashtabula." There is also a novel called The King from Ashtabula by Vern Sneider, published in 1960. The city is also mentioned in the Bob Dylan song "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go."
Ashtabula hosts an annual Blessing of the Fleet Celebration, usually in late May or early June. As part of the celebration, a procession and prayer service is held at Ashtabula Harbor. Ashtabula was also home of the FinnFestUSA in 2007.
The site of Ashtabula was settled in 1803 and incorporated in 1891. The city contains several former stops on the Underground Railroad which was used to convey African-American slaves to freedom in Canada in the years before the American Civil War. Among the stops is Hubbard House, one of the handful of termination points. Ex-slaves would reside in a basement of the house adjacent to the lake and then leave on the next safe boat to Canada, gaining their freedom once they arrived in Ontario. Its harbor has been a large ore and coal port since the end of the 19th century and continues to be to some extent with a long coal ramp draping across the horizon in the current harbor and the ore shipments unloaded from lakers that is sent down to the steel mills of Pennsylvania.
Many newcomers to Ashtabula in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were immigrants from Finland, Sweden, and Italy. Ethnic rivalries among these groups were once a major influence on daily life in Ashtabula. A substantial percentage of the current residents are descended from those immigrants. The population in the City of Ashtabula grew steadily until 1970, but has declined in recent years.