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Parma is a city in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States, located on the southern edge of Cleveland. As of the 2010 census it is the seventh largest city in the state of Ohio and the second largest city in Cuyahoga County after Cleveland.
In 1806, the area that would eventually become Parma and Parma Heights was originally surveyed by Abraham Tappan, a surveyor for the Connecticut Land Company, and was known as Township 6 - Range 13. This designation gave the town its first identity in the Western Reserve. Soon after, Township 6 - Range 13 was commonly referred to as "Greenbriar," supposedly for the rambling bush that grew there. Benajah Fay, his wife Ruth Wilcox Fay, and their ten children, arrivals from Lewis County, New York, were the first settlers in 1816. It was then that Greenbriar, under a newly organized government seat under Brooklyn Township, began attending to its own governmental needs.
Self-government started to gain in popularity by the time the new Greenbriar settlement contained twenty householders. However, prior to the establishment of the new township, the name Greenbriar was replaced by the name Parma. This was largely due to Dr. David Long who had recently returned from Italy and "impressed with the grandeur and beauty...was reminded of Parma, Italy and...persuaded the early townspeople that the territory deserved a better name than Greenbriar."
Thus, on March 7, 1826, a resolution was passed ordering the construction of the new township. It stated,
On the same day, a public notice was issued to qualified electors by the County Commissioners. They met at the house of Samuel Freeman on April 3, 1826 to elect township officers according to the law. It was then that the first eleven officers were elected to lead the new government.
During this time, Parma Township remained largely agricultural. The first schoolhouse was a log structure built on the hill at the northern corner of what is now Parma Heights Cemetery. A memorial plate on a stone marks the spot. In 1827, the township was divided into road districts. The Broadview Road of today was then known as Town Line Road as well as Independence Road. Ridge Road was known then as Center Road as it cut through the center of town. York Road was then known as York Street as arrivals from the state of New York settled there. Pearl Road then had many names which included Medina Wooster Pike, Wooster Pike, the Cleveland Columbus Road, and the Brighton and Parma Plank Road.
A stone house, built in 1849 and known as the Henninger House, was occupied by several generations of Henningers and is still standing today. The house rests on one of the higher points in Cuyahoga County, which provided visibility for the entire northeastern part of Parma Township. This was also the same site where the Erie Indians, centuries before, stood to read and send fire signals as well as pray to their spirits.
By 1850, the US census listed Parma Township's population at 1,329. However, the rising population of the township had slowed over the decades. The Civil War affected Parma much as it did other towns and villages in the nation. Three out of four homes sent a father, sons, or sometimes both, to fight in the war. By 1910, the population of the township had increased to 1,631.
In 1911, Parma Heights, due to the temperance mood of the day, separated itself from the Parma Township after by a vote of 42 to 32 and was incorporated as a village comprising 4.13 square miles.
By 1920, the US census showed Parma Township had a population of just 2,345, but the following decade proved to be a time of significant growth and development for Parma. It was in the 1920s that Parma Township transformed from a farming community into a village. On December 15, 1924, Parma was incorporated as a village.
The largest and fastest growing development of that time was H. A. Stahl's Ridgewood Gardens development, which started in 1919, continued through the 1920s, and into the 1930s. A resident of Shaker Heights, Ohio's first Garden City, H. A. Stahl developed Ridgewood as an ambitious "model village" project patterned along the lines of and rivaling the earlier Shaker Heights project with "churches, schools, motion picture theater, community house, and other features forming a part of all well-developed residence communities.". Ridgewood was designed and marketed as a Garden City on 1,000 acres of land to accommodate about 40,000 residents "325 feet above Lake Erie, in the healthiest section of the South Side, free from the smoke of industries, or the congestion and noises of sections nearer the Public Square."
On January 1, 1931, Parma became a city with a population of 13,899. Whereas the incorporation of the village of Parma was met with much optimism, the newly established city of Parma faced the uncertainty of the Great Depression which had almost entirely stopped its growth. Money was scarce, tax income was limited, and some began to talk of annexation of both the city and school district to Cleveland. Both annexation issues, however, were soundly defeated as Parma voters overwhelmingly voted against them and silenced proponents of annexation. Not long after this, Parma was once again solvent due in large part to the newly created Gallagher Act and the determination of Parma's Auditor, Sam Nowlin. By 1941, a building boom appeared to be underway in Parma just as the United States was about to enter World War II.
After World War II, Parma once again began to experience tremendous growth as young families began moving from Cleveland into the suburbs. Between 1950 and 1960, Parma's population soared from 28,897 to 82,845. By 1956, Parma was unchallenged as the fastest growing city in the United States. The population peaked in 1970 at 100,216.
Today, Parma's population has reached 81,601, though it remains one of the Cleveland area's top three destinations young adults (aged 22 to 34) are increasingly choosing as a place to live, along with Lakewood and downtown Cleveland and in 2016 was recognized by Businessweek as one of the best places to raise kids in Ohio.
Parma is southwest of Cleveland; it is bounded by Cleveland and Brooklyn on the north, Brooklyn Heights, and Seven Hills on the east, North Royalton and Broadview Heights on the south, and Brook Park, Middleburg Heights, and Parma Heights on the west.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.07 square miles (51.98 km2), of which 20.02 square miles (51.85 km2) is land and 0.05 square miles (0.13 km2) is water.
Two major changes and developments have recently occurred regarding two principal sites within the city:
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 81,601 people, 34,489 households, and 21,646 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,076.0 inhabitants per square mile (1,573.8/km2). There were 36,608 housing units at an average density of 1,828.6 per square mile (706.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.0% White, 2.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 1.0% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.6% of the population. According to the 2010 Census., 22.5% were of German ancestry, 17.6% Polish, 14.8% Italian, 13.8% Irish, 7.4% Slovak, 6.7% English, 5.3% Ukrainian, 2.6% French, 2.2% Serbian, 1.9% Czech, 1.4% Arab, and 1.2% of Croatian, Lithuanian, or Russian ancestries. In regard to languages spoken, 87.03% spoke English, 2.26% Ukrainian, 1.68% Polish, 1.27% Spanish, 1.24% German, and 1.18% Italian as their first language.
There were 34,489 households of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.2% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.95.
The median age in the city was 41.5 years. 20.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.7% were from 25 to 44; 27.7% were from 45 to 64; and 17.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.1% male and 51.9% female.
The median income for a household in the city is $50,198, the median income for a family is $60,696 and the mean income for a family is $68,828. The per capita income for the city is $25,064. The poverty rate in the city is 10.2%. This is low in comparison to other large Ohio cities as well as the state's individual poverty rate of 15.4%.
In 2014, Parma ranked as the third safest city in the United States with a population of 25,000 or more by Neighborhood Scout. In 2014, Parma had a crime index of 90 meaning it was safer than 90% of cities in the United States.
Parma's major north-south roads, in order from west to east, are:
Its major east-west roads, in order from north to south, are:
Also, Pearl Road (U.S. Route 42) runs from southwest to northeast through northern Parma for less than two miles (3 km).
Public transportation in Parma includes bus routes operated by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, which serves the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County suburbs.
During the population boom between 1950 and 1980, Parma's commercial sector grew to match its residential sector. Since the 1950s, Parma has fostered the growth of many small businesses and been an operating hub for such well-known companies as General Motors, the Union Carbide Research Center (now GrafTech International-CLOSED as of 2017) and Cox Cable Television.
The Shoppes at Parma, formerly Parmatown Mall, is a commercial shopping district that totals approximately 800,000 square feet. It is located approximately 3 miles south of Cleveland's southern border at the southwest corner of Ridge Road and West Ridgewood Drive in central Cuyahoga County. It is anchored by J.C. Penney, Dick's Sporting Goods, Marc's and Walmart. The mall opened as a shopping plaza in 1956 and was enclosed in the mid-1960s.
Currently, it is owned and managed by Phillip's Edison & Co. and is undergoing extensive redevelopment at an expected cost of more than $70 million. Senior vice president of Phillips Edison's strategic investment funds, Roy Williams, has stated:
Redevelopment will transform the commercial center into a pedestrian-friendly community-oriented mall and will include attractive landscaping, new lighting, creation of two tree-lined boulevards, repaving of the parking lots, changing the entire facade of the outdoor shopping strip and medical offices, demolition of the current Macy's and Dick's Sporting Goods buildings, creating a new point of entry to J.C. Penney from West Ridgewood Drive, the construction of six new outbuildings, and the separation of Walmart from the rest of the mall.
Recently, it was announced that a 15-member "Parma Mayor's Town Center Task Force" will be formed to develop a plan for a town center based around the Ridge Road-West Ridgewood Drive intersection that features the Shoppes at Parma, Parma Branch library, University Hospitals Parma Medical Center and City Hall. It will be made up of representatives from various organizations including the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma Area Chamber of Commerce, Parma schools and the Cleveland Metroparks' West Creek Reservation.
The Ukrainian Village commercial district is located along State Road between Tuxedo Avenue and Grantwood Drive. This district was designated Ukrainian Village in September, 2009.
This commercial district features a large number of small, family-owned businesses and medical offices, features one of the most "walkable" neighborhoods in Parma, and boasts a traffic count of more than 40,000 vehicles each day at the intersection of State and Snow Roads. This area also hosts the Ukrainian Independence Day parade (August).
In 2013, Parma formed a sister-city relationship with Lviv, Ukraine and is home to Ohio's largest Ukrainian community, the majority of whom are foreign born, with more than twice the number of any other city.
Parma is the seat of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saint Josaphat, which was established by Pope John Paul II in 1983.
The Polish Village commercial district is located along Ridge Road between Pearl Road and Thornton Avenue. This district was designated Polish Village on May 1, 2011.
This commercial district features a large number of small, family-owned businesses and medical offices, features one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Parma, and boasts a traffic count of more than 40,000 vehicles each day at the intersection of Ridge and Snow Roads. This area also hosts the Polish Constitution Day parade (May), St. Charles Carnival parade (July), Independence Day parade (July), and Christmas parade (December).
The Parma City School District serves Parma, Parma Heights, and Seven Hills.
The District's sports stadium is Byers Field. All three high schools play golf at Ridgewood for their home course. The rivalry that exists between these schools is well documented.
Constellation Schools: Parma Community public charter schools:
The Drew Carey Show's opening credits of its first season consisted of a caricature of Drew Carey — consisting of his face and a yellow tie — singing the Robert McGuire-penned "Moon Over Parma". The song was trimmed for the opening sequence, and the reference to Eastlake in the line "Guide her to Eastlake underneath your silvery light" was changed to a reference to Cleveland to stay in theme with the show.
Occasionally, during the 1960s and 1970s, Parma was the target of light-hearted jabs by local movie show hosts Ghoulardi, Hoolihan, Big Chuck and Lil’ John, and The Ghoul, due to its central European and, most specifically, Polish, make-up. Ghoulardi, the horror host of late night Shock Theater at WJW-TV, Channel 8, in Cleveland, Ohio from January 13, 1963 through December 16, 1966, made a series of shorts called "Parma Place" and focused on an alleged love of white socks, pink flamingos, chrome balls, kielbasa, pierogi and the polka.
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