Established in 1809, Shaker Heights is a Cleveland inner-ring suburb that was one of the first planned suburban communities in the country. It was incorporated as a village in 1912 once the Van Sweringen brothers, who had purchased the land in 1905, had fulfilled their vision of developing a suburban retreat from Cleveland’s industrial inner city. The name was derived from two local factors: the community was founded on land formerly owned by the religious community known as the “Shakers,” and it rested at an elevation of 1050 feet above sea level, making it similar to the “Heights” plateau east of Cleveland that rested at 950 feet above sea level.
Because of community involvement, Shaker Heights evaded many of the problems generated by “white flight” and “blockbusting” during the 1950s. Then in 1986, Shaker Heights created a “Fund for the Future of Shaker Heights,” which offered residents buying homes in segregated neighborhoods a down payment loan to assist with creating a multi-ethnic neighborhood. The city continues to run a housing assistance office that collaborates with home buyers in successful neighborhood integration. Shaker Heights’ community efforts made it a finalist in 1989 for the All-American City Award, an award given to only ten communities each year for working together to face community-wide challenges and achieving uncommon results.
Today, Shaker Heights maintains strong building codes and zoning laws to ensure a stable community housing stock and maintain the community’s core identity. Roughly 75 percent of Shaker Heights is recorded as the Shaker Village Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
Some places of interest in Shaker Heights include Shaker Historical Society; Shaker Heights Community Rose Garden; Nature Center at Shaker Lakes with hiking trails and a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk trail; Shaker Heights Thornton Park with a skateboard park, batting cages, ice skating, swimming pool and more; and Shaker Heights Country Club. Shopping destinations include a historic shopping district called Shaker Square in the Shaker Village Historic District, the Shaker Plaza and Van Aken Center, and Shaker Town Center. Notable pubs and eateries include Rudy’s Pub, Pearl of the Orient, Alfonso's Restaurant Group, Saffron Patch Authentic Indian cuisine, and The Metropolitan Brownie.
Shaker Heights City School District contains eight schools: five elementary schools, an upper elementary, a middle school, and a high school. There are also private schools, including Laurel School and Hathaway Brown school, a parochial school, University School, and John Carroll University. Transportation in Shaker Heights is relatively convenient, given its roots as a streetcar suburb: the Blue and Green Lines of the RTA Rapid Transit, or “The Rapid,” provide service from Cleveland to Shaker Heights, among other bus services available within the city.
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