After the discovery of the New World, the land that became North Olmsted was originally part of the French colony of Canada (New France), which was ceded in 1763 to Great Britain and renamed Province of Quebec. In the late 18th century the land became part of the Connecticut Western Reserve in the Northwest Territory, then was purchased by the Connecticut Land Company in 1795.
In 1806, the vast tract of land comprising present-day North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township was purchased for $30,000 by Aaron Olmsted, a wealthy sea captain. In 1815, David Johnson Stearns of Vermont was followed by other pioneers from New England who established a settlement in the wilderness.
Earliest records show the area was called Kingston. In 1823 the people organized into a township called Lenox. In 1826, Aaron Olmsted's son, Charles Hyde Olmsted, offered to donate books from his father's personal collection in Connecticut, if the residents of Lenox agreed to change the name of the area to Olmstead to honor his father. These books became known as the Ox Cart Library.
On March 1, 1931, the village of North Olmsted started the historical North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line, one of the first, as well as one of the oldest, municipal transit systems in the United States, which was in operation for over 74 years until March 20, 2005, when it was absorbed into the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.
On March 24, 1966, the Great Northern Theatre opened at Great Northern Shopping Center in North Olmsted. This was one of the first and few Cinerama Theatres in Ohio and had a gold colored curtain in front of the long 90 foot screen in a very large auditorium with 1,346 seats. It was closed in 2000 due to new cinemas that were added in nearby Westlake by Regal Cinemas.
The Unitarian Universalist Church in North Olmsted was once part of the underground railroad. Escaped slaves would hide in the belfry to escape to Canada. The church was mentioned in the paper "How the fellowship came to be what it is" written by Alice Russell in August 1982.