SHAKER HEIGHTS, originally part of WARRENSVILLE TWP., then CLEVELAND HTS., incorporated as a village in 1911 and as a city in 1931. It is located on the eastern edge of Cleveland, 8 miles southeast of downtown. It occupies 6.5 sq. mi., bounded on the north by Cleveland Hts. and UNIV. HTS., on the east by BEACHWOOD, and on the south by WARRENSVILLE HTS. and Warrensville Twp. The name was derived from the NORTH UNION SHAKER COMMUNITY, located in the area from 1822-9. Speculators purchased the community's lands, but development did not begin until 1905, when ORIS P. AND MANTIS J. VAN SWERINGEN began creating a comprehensive "Garden City" suburb. The plan worked around the natural topography and lakes and designated specific locations for apartments, commercial areas, public schools, churches, and 3 private secondary schools. A large tract was transferred to the SHAKER HTS. COUNTRY CLUB, opened in 1915. The development detached from Cleveland Hts. and incorporated as the village of Shaker Hts., with an estimated population of 250. Strict ZONING and building and deed restrictions, and architectural design guidelines managed and enforced by the Van Sweringen Co. resulted in a model residential suburb in the 1920s and 1930s. The Van Sweringens constructed the SHAKER RAPID TRANSIT line to downtown Cleveland, opened in 1920, which aided local growth. The population was 1,700 by 1920; in 1931 it was 17,783. The city charter provided for a mayor-council form of government, with council members elected at large. The third mayor, WILLIAM J. VAN AKEN, served from 1917-50.
In 1949 the population of Shaker Hts. was 23,393. The Van Sweringen Co. ceased to operate as a real-estate firm in 1959, but continued to oversee the deed restrictions for several years, after which the authority was vested in the city. Shaker Hts. has provided a city model in transportation, education, government, housing, recreation, and landscaping. The Shaker Hts. Public Library operates a main library and the Bertram Woods branch. The public Horseshoe Lake Park is situated on one of the 2 lakes of DOAN BROOK. In the 1990s a new shopping area, Shaker Towne Centre, was developed at Chagrin Blvd. and Lee Rd., while business at Shaker Square and in the Larchmere district continued to thrive (see BUSINESS, RETAIL). Groundbreaking began on October 17, 2002, for a new firehouse, 17000 Chagrin Boulevard, the first new City building constructed since 1973. The population declined from 36,306 in 1970 to 30,831 in 1990 and 29,405 in 2000; the city's diverse housing stock varied from mansions to smaller homes. A landmarks commission, an architectural review board, design-standards publications, commercial revitalization, and community associations maintained the Garden City vision into the 1990s and beyond. Perhaps for this reason, Shaker Hts. tax rates have been the county's highest and among the highest in the state. The original Van Sweringen Co. agreements had included racial and ethnic restrictions, but intensive efforts to achieve an integrated community succeeded in the 1970s and 1980s (see LOMOND ASSN. and LUDLOW COMMUNITY ASSN.). By the 1990s up through the 2000 Census, African Americans made up 30% of the population of Shaker Hts.