Independence, created by a glacier on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River first sheltered Indians, then became a settlement, grew with the Ohio and Erie Canal, expanded into a stone quarrying center, then slumbered along as a farming community until the urbanization of Cuyahoga County which resulted in its growth as a suburban city.
Nomadic Indians first roamed the area. Permanent Indian settlements occurred in the 1650's when several large villages were locally established. Independence became a transportation crossroads of two well-trodden Indian trails, the Muskingum Trail and the Mahoning Trail. Today, Independence is still a crossroads of Northeast Ohio with I-77, I-480, and S.R. 21 all crossing through its borders.
Independence was organized as a Township around 1814. The first recorded resident is traced to 1818--Ichabod Lord Skinner, a young farmer, who, by 1834, owned 384 acres around "Skinner's Hill" (Schaff Road). Ichabod's youngest son, David P., built a brick home on "Skinner's Hill" that still stands today.
With the opening of the Ohio and Erie Canal in 1827, Independence Township became accessible to trade and settlers.
After farming, the major industry in early Independence was quarrying. High quality sandstone and bluestone were quarried for sixty years leaving lovely lakes and ponds scattered throughout Independence. Local clay deposits also gave rise to three brick/tile yards of which only one remains today on Stone Road, DiGeronimo Aggregates.
Independence became a Village in April 1914, and a City in November 1960. In the early 1960's, LTV Steel's Technical Center became the first corporate office to locate within the City. With the construction of the I-77 and I-480 interchange at Rockside Road, Independence became a strategic location for growing and established businesses to occupy office space. Rockside Road became home to more regional and national companies than any other suburb in Greater Cleveland. As the business community grew, so, too, did government. In 1982 a state-of-the-art City Hall, the beginning of a municipal complex located on Brecksville Road, was dedicated.
Revenues from Rockside Road benefit the entire community. Approaching the 1990's, Mayor Gregory P. Kurtz, a descendant of the original Independence settler, Ichabod Lord Skinner, focused on social services and needs of the individual resident. A bond issue was passed and the Civic Center was planned and built. Here, many programs, from transporting seniors to doctor appointments and weekly hot lunches, to after school programs and summertime child care, plus a multitude of recreational programs are offered at little or no cost to residents - all at one of the lowest commercial and residential tax rates in Ohio.
Today's key to success for Independence is maintaining a financial balance, having top-notch public services, modern municipal facilities, superior transportation access and quality schools, making Independence an appealing place to work, live, visit and raise a family within the "Heart of Cuyahoga County."