There was a man, an ox and some books….
Earliest records show the area was called Kingston. In the early 1800’s it was better known as the township of Lenox. North Olmsted was once a part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, which the state of Connecticut claimed. Investors bought land from the state, sight unseen, and went west to divide it up and sell it to settlers. Aaron Olmsted was one of the early landowners, but never lived here. Charles Hyde Olmsted inherited the northern part of the township from his father, Aaron Olmsted. Charles Olmsted, son of Aaron Olmsted, owned much of the land along Butternut Ridge, and sold plots to the pioneer settlers, beginning in 1815. In 1820, Charles Olmsted offered his father’s library of 500 books to the community, then called Lenox, if they would change the name to Olmsted. They agreed, and the books, brought by oxcart from Connecticut, were used as a circulating library. The library was the first circulating library in the western reserve area. The remaining 153 books are on display in the North Olmsted library.
The town grew from a collection of farms to a community of small business, such as a quarry, blacksmith shop, mill, iron smelter, and pig farm. Until about 1950, the population was still small. Then, following World War II, returning war veterans looking for a good place to live began to move out from Cleveland. North Olmsted grew so fast that at one time it was the fastest-growing city in Ohio. The town was highly agricultural and farmland prospered in this area as late as the 1960’s. Commercial building began to serve the new inhabitants who wanted a nearby place to shop. New schools were built to accommodate the children who had overflowed the original buildings and who were being taught in rented classrooms in churches. And still more people came here to live.
North Olmsted has had several notable “firsts.” In 1931 the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line was founded following the failure of the Cleveland-Southwestern Railway. This was one of the first municipally owned bus lines in the United States. More recently, the City enacted legislation which made North Olmsted the first city in the United States to ban the use of materials and goods manufactured under sweatshop conditions. The City of North Olmsted purchased Springvale Golf Course and Ballroom in 1994.
Now with a population of about 34,000, North Olmsted’s citizens live in a city which has examples of both its history and its present changing scene.