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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

NORTH OLMSTED - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

NORTH OLMSTED formed as a village in 1909 from portions of Olmsted and Dover townships and was incorporated as a city in 1960. It evolved from Lenox Township and is located on the western edge of Cuyahoga County 12 miles southwest of Cleveland, bounded by WESTLAKE on the north, FAIRVIEW PARK and BROOK PARK on the east, OLMSTED TOWNSHIP on the south, and Lorain County on the west. It occupies 11.65 square miles.

David Johnson Stearns, the area's first permanent settler, arrived from Dover, Vermont, in 1815. His father, Elijah, had purchased a tract of land in the northwestern part of Township 6, Range 15 of the WESTERN RESERVE from the heirs of Aaron Olmsted, a shareholder in the CONNECTICUT LAND COMPANY. Other families from New England followed Stearns westward; organizing a township they named Kingston. In 1823, the township became known as Lenox. In 1829, local residents agreed to change the name of their township to Olmsted in exchange for a 500-book library of Charles Olmsted, Aaron's son. Uneven development and political discontent prompted some township residents to form their own self-governing village of North Olmsted in 1909, comprising 10 square miles of northern Olmsted Township and 4 square miles of southeastern Dover Township.

North Olmsted remained a small rural farming community until the 1920s. It then began to prosper as a truck-gardening and greenhouse center (see AGRICULTURE). In 1931, the village, under the leadership of Mayor Charles A. Seltzer, organized the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line to replace the transportation service of the discontinued INTERURBANS. Some citizens and certain public utilities opposed the concept of a municipally owned bus line in the courts. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the village; it is claimed that this bus line established a national precedent (see MUNICIPAL OWNERSHIP). In 1986, the GREATER CLEVELAND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY operated the bus line. In the 1990s development of and around the Great Northern Mall and Plaza led to the city's citation as one of Cuyahoga County's major commercial areas. A stretch of Lorain Rd. in North Olmsted was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most restaurants within a mile radius. Population increased from 3,487 in 1940 to 34,204 in 1990; it reached 34,113 in 2000 and declined to 32,718 in 2010. Recreational and public facilities included a recreation center and a branch of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM.

Banks, Bruce and Jim Wallace. The Olmsted Story: A Brief History of Olmsted Falls & Olmsted Township. Charleston: The History Press, 2010.

Thomas, Dale., North Olmsted. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2008.

See also SUBURBS.

Last Modified: 04 Aug 2011 12:35:05 PM

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