MAPLE HEIGHTS incorporated as a village in July 1915 and as a city on 1 Jan. 1932. It is a 5 sq. mi. residential and industrial community approx. 10 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland. Bounded on the north by Cleveland and WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, on the south by BEDFORD and WALTON HILLS, on the east by BEDFORD HEIGHTS, and on the west by GARFIELD HEIGHTS, it was originally the northwest part of Bedford Twp., established in 1823. Benjamin Fitch of Connecticut was the first known white settler of the area in 1813. John Dunham, who came in 1817, built the road known as Dunham Rd., which gave access to the OHIO AND ERIE CANAL after 1827. The area grew and developed with the opening of the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad (1849) and the Connotton Valley Railroad (1881). The Akron, Bedford & Cleveland interurban line was also completed through the area in 1895 and operated until 1932 (see INTERURBANS). By the turn of the century, Bohemians, SLOVENES, and LITHUANIANS began to settle in the area to work in the industries of nearby NEWBURGH. The first CZECHS were the families of Joseph Uhlik, Joseph Hodous, and P. N. Tresnicka. The first Slovenian families were those of Martin Potisek (1906) and John Rybak (1909). In 1914 the residents of the Maple Grove area, when annexation to Bedford Village seemed imminent, voted to form their own community. Maple Hts., named for its many maple trees, had a population of 1,000 upon incorporation. The village continued to grow with immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, many of whom moved from Cleveland (see IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION). In 1930 the population was 5,950. A city charter providing for a mayor-council form of government was adopted in June 1930. The city operated its own municipal bus system from 1935 to 1975.
The city expanded industrially primarily along Dunham Rd. Plants included the Aluminum Smelting & Refining Co., Charles Svec, Inc., LEMPCO INDUSTRIES, INC., and the Dunham Industrial Park. Later companies located along Rockside Rd., including Kraft Foods, COOK UNITED, INC., and the JONES AND LAUGHLIN STEEL CORP. (CLEVELAND WORKS) Warehouse. A building boom followed WORLD WAR II. Mapletown shopping center was built in 1947 at Libby and Broadway, and SOUTHGATE SHOPPING CENTER was begun in 1951. The population burgeoned from 6,728 in 1940 to 31,667 in 1960. It grew more slowly to a peak of 34,093 in 1970 before declining through each subsequent decade. The opening of the I-480 freeway along the Cleveland–Maple Hts. border in 1978 failed to reverse the city’s trajectory. By 2018, the estimated population stood at 22,278, the lowest figure since the mid 1950s. Its poverty rate, 22%, was twice as high as the countywide average. As in a number of other east side inner-ring suburbs, Maple Hts. experienced population loss and racial transition. Between 2000 and 2018 its African American population went from 44% to 72% of the city total, but as in EUCLID, black political representation lagged. Only in 2016 did the city elect its first black mayor, Annette Blackwell. Maple Hts. had its own school system, a variety of churches, and many cultural, social-service, and recreational organizations, including one of the four regional libraries of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM (CCPL).
Updated by Mark Souther