GARFIELD HEIGHTS, originally part of the village of NEWBURGH, split off in 1907 as the village of South Newburgh and incorporated as the city of Garfield Hts. in 1930. It is located southeast of Cleveland and occupies approx. 6.75 sq. mi., bounded on the north by Cleveland, on the east by MAPLE HTS., on the south by VALLEY VIEW, and on the west by CUYAHOGA HTS. The city took its name from GARFIELD PARK, the former Newburgh Park, renamed in 1897 in memory of Pres. JAMES ABRAM GARFIELD. In the 19th century, the heights above the Cuyahoga Valley were more desirable to settlers than the swamps of the CUYAHOGA RIVER. Local farmers supplemented their income by producing "black salt," a mixture of lye and potash from burned timber, more profitable than grain (see AGRICULTURE). Real-estate developers began to promote the area as a residential community in the 1920s. The population jumped from 2,530 in 1920 to 15,589 by 1930. Whereas many early residents were GERMANS, residential immigration after 1920 consisted of working-class POLES, other Slavs, and ITALIANS (see IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION). Garfield Hts., like many commuter SUBURBS, had a small industrial base, which resulted in budgetary difficulties. Overbuilding in the 1920s led to an 80% mortgage delinquency rate in the Depression. Rapid growth resumed after World War II, and in the 1950s Garfield Hts. experienced a net gain of nearly 17,000, the largest absolute growth in its history. After peaking at 41,417 in 1970, the city lost more than 15% of its population in a decade. No longer able to afford the maintenance of Garfield Park, the municipal government unsuccessfully sought state oversight in the late 1970s. In 1986, CLEVELAND METROPARKS agreed to administer and revitalize the park, which was renamed Garfield Park Reservation. By 1990, the city’s population was down to 31,739 and AFRICAN AMERICANS predominated in some neighborhoods. By 2018, whites and African Americans each accounted for approx. 48% of the city’s estimated population of 27,687.
For many years, the major industries in Garfield Hts. were the Round Chain Co. and General Chemical.Ohio Aluminum Industries opened a casting plant in 1970 that continues in operation today. The Garfield Mall (later Garfield Commons) was built in 1974. The city’s most ambitious shopping plaza, City View Center, opened in 2006 atop a closed landfill on E. 98th St. south of I-480 but soon lost nearly all of its tenants following the discovery of high underground levels of methane gas. Plans for a third major shopping center to the north of I-480 stalled in 2018 when the Netherlands-based home furnishings store IKEA withdrew from the project. In 2020, the community maintained police and fire departments, a recreation center and 3 parks, and a school system consisting of 3 elementary, 1 middle, and 1 high school. MARYMOUNT HOSPITAL and Convent were located in Garfield Hts.; the city was also home to a branch of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM.
Updated by Mark Souther 4/10/2020