The former municipality of Waverley was declared a city on 11 April 1961, being the remnant of Mulgrave Shire following 1948 and 1959 excisions in the south-west by Oakleigh. Warrigal Road in the north-west, Highbury Road on the north, Dandenong Creek on the east and Police Road in the south-east have been unchanged municipal boundaries since 1857. A square mile grid of roads as far east as Springvale Road was laid across once-timbered ranges threaded by tributaries of Gardiners Creek. East of Springvale Road is a ridge above Dandenong Creek, notably steep at Waverley and Ferntree Gully roads, gentler at High Street and Wellington roads. A Roman Catholic seminary on the Waverley Road crest which opened in 1957 became the Police Academy in 1972. The Australian (formerly Victorian) Football League's Waverley Park stadium on the Wellington Road rise hosted its first match in July 1970. From 2003 it became a sports ground at the centre of a housing estate. In 1994 Waverley was amalgamated with part of Oakleigh City to form the new Monash City.
Cattle grazing from the late 1830s, followed by dairying and horticulture from the 1850s, were largely aimed at the metropolitan fresh food market. A co-operative cool store, established in 1919 on the High Street Road-Orchard Street corner, amalgamated with others in the eastern metropolitan region in 1930 as the Victorian Pear Packing Co., later Blue Moon, with headquarters at Blackburn.
A suburban railway extension from East Malvern to Glen Waverley opened in 1930, with intermediate stations at Holmesglen on Warrigal Road, Jordanville (named for a leading family of orchardists), Mount Waverley and Syndal. However, housing development was delayed by an onerous betterment tax, economic depression and wartime restrictions. A shire community of less than 5000 in 1945 was swiftly transformed into raw suburbia with nearly 45 000 residents and 11 364 dwellings in 1961. The Jordanville Housing Commission estate, developed between 1945 and 1960, spilled into four decades of private development, with A.V. Jennings brick estates prominent between 1953 and 1970. Young married couples buying into the estates meant concomitant waves of new primary and secondary schools, both state and Catholic, with technical colleges at Jordanville, Syndal and Brandon Park and new campuses for the independent Huntingtower (1956), Wesley College Junior School (1966) and Caulfield Grammar (1981).
The railway line was duplicated and fully integrated into the metropolitan system in 1964. Sections of the Mulgrave Freeway, now the Monash Freeway, between Police Road and Warrigal Road opened progressively between 1973 and 1981. The city's peak census population of 122 935 in 1986 fell by about 12% over the next decade, although the number of dwellings rose from 37 094 to 38 158, reflecting a growth in unit development and smaller household sizes. The proportion of overseas-born residents was relatively low until the 1970s. By 1986 at 25.8%, it was three points higher than the Victorian average with particularly high concentrations of those born in Malaysia and Singapore. Local senior citizens clubs include ones for Armenian, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Greek Macedonian, Macedonian and Polish residents.
Light industry is concentrated on the north-western border with Burwood, at central Notting Hill and at Mulgrave in the south-east. Municipal planning controls ensured that residential development included generous open space parks and reserves. Native species were favoured for reserve and street tree planting from the 1960s. Land acquired by the municipality allowed the progressive development of Scotchmans Creek linear park including wetland filters and an overhead bridge across Blackburn Road. Along Dandenong Creek, reserves were incorporated in a Dandenong Valley Metropolitan Park initiated by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, with the Jells Park area available to the public from 1976, south of a municipal golf course opened in 1965. Between 1923 and 1927 Camberwell Golf Club converted what was once the Sabine Farm of Sir Redmond Barry into Riversdale Golf Club. Waverley Golf Club, begun in 1938 and transferred to Rowville in 1962, was replaced by a housing estate with golfing terms used for street names.
Municipal offices, opened on a new Springvale Road site in 1955, were superseded in 1984 by a distinctive complex designed by Sydney architect Harry Seidler, who was also commissioned for the municipality's Australian Bicentennial project, an art gallery at Wheelers Hill. The city's floral emblem, the chocolate lily (Arthropodium strictum), was adopted in 1985 on the recommendation of the Waverley group, Society for Growing Australian Plants.