Akron, Ohio

Akron, Ohio
City of Akron
—  City  —


Nickname(s): The Rubber City, City of Invention
Location within Summit County, Ohio, USA
City of Akron is located in Ohio
City of Akron
Location within Ohio
Coordinates: 41°4′23″N 81°31′4″W / 41.07306°N 81.51778°W / 41.07306; -81.51778Coordinates: 41°4′23″N 81°31′4″W / 41.07306°N 81.51778°W / 41.07306; -81.51778
Country United States
State Ohio
County Summit
Demonym Akronite
Founded 1825
Incorporated 1836 (village)
Incorporated 1865 (city)
 – Mayor Don Plusquellic (D)
 – City 62.4 sq mi (161.6 km2)
 – Land 62.1 sq mi (160.8 km2)
 – Water 0.3 sq mi (0.9 km2)
Elevation 1,004 ft (306 m)
Population (2010) 199,110 (110th in U.S.)
 – Metro 703,200
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 330, 234
FIPS code 39-01000[1]
GNIS feature ID 1064305[2]
Website http://www.ci.akron.oh.us

Akron (pronounced /ˈækrən/), is the fifth largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Summit County. It is located in the Great Lakes region approximately 39 miles (63 km) south of Lake Erie along the Little Cuyahoga River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 199,110.[3] The Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area covers Summit and Portage counties, and in 2010 had a population of 703,200.[3] Akron is also part of the larger Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area, which in 2010 had a population of 2,780,440.

Co-founded by Paul Williams and surveyor of the Connecticut Western Reserve General Simon Perkins, Akron was settled in 1825 as a strategic point at the summit of the developing Ohio and Erie Canal. Williams arrived in the area during 1811 and suggested the settlement to Perkins who had been in Ohio since 1807. Due to Eliakim Crosby founding "North Akron"(Cascade) in 1833, "South" was added to Akron's name until they unified in 1836 becoming incorporated later that year.[4] In 1840 Summit County formed from portions of Portage, Medina, and Stark counties. Akron replaced Cuyahoga Falls as its county seat a year later and opened a canal connecting to Beaver, Pennsylvania helping to birth the stoneware, sewer pipe, fishing tackle, and farming equipment industries.[5][6] In 1844 Abolitionist John Brown moved into the John Brown House across the street from business partner Colonel Simon Perkins whom lived in the Perkins Stone Mansion. Numerous Congregational, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches erected between the 1870s and World War I were built using the Akron Plan.[7][8]

During the 1910-1920 decade Akron was the fastest growing city in the country and experienced a 201.8% population increase becoming a boom town. World-renowned industries including the cereal, lamp, toy & marble, and tire & rubber were flourishing in the city at the time. It became "The Rubber Capital of the World" owing to its location along canals, railroads, and interstate.[clarification needed] Having landmarks such as the All-America Bridge, Akron is one of the nation's pioneer cities producing the first championship teams for the American Professional Football Association (National Football League) and the National Basketball League (National Basketball Association).[clarification needed] The University of Akron which has both the Goodyear Polymer Center and the National Polymer Innovation Center on campus, is the center of the Polymer Valley which is a leader in polymer research and production. In 2001 for its contributions to the Information Age Newsweek named Akron 5th on the list of ten high tech havens.[9] It was also granted awards by World's most livable cities, the National Civic League, and the National Arbor Day Foundation.[10] Akron is also host to the All-American Soapbox Derby, the National Hamburger Festival, Founders Day(Alcoholics Anonymous), Road Runner Akron Marathon, and will be the venue for some events of the 2014 Gay Games.

Residents of Akron are referred to as "Akronites". Nicknames for the city include "The Rubber City" and "City of Invention".[11] At one time home to all four major tire makers (Goodrich, Goodyear, Firestone, General Tire), it also gained the nickname "Tire City".[12]



Original town plot of Akron

In 1811, Paul Williams settled near the corner of what is now Buchtel and Broadway and suggested to surveyor of the Connecticut Western Reserve General Simon Perkins the co-founding of a town at the summit of the developing Ohio and Erie Canal. The name derived from the Greek word ἄκρον signifying a summit or high point. Laid out in December 1825, where the South Akron neighborhood now is; Irish laborers working on the Ohio Canal built approximately 100 cabins nearby in autumn. Due to Eliakim Crosby founding "North Akron" (Cascade) in 1833, "South" was added to Akron's name up until the two merged and became an incorporated village in 1836.[4] In 1840 Summit County formed from portions of Portage, Medina, and Stark counties. Akron replaced Cuyahoga Falls as its county seat a year later and opened a canal connecting to Beaver, Pennsylvania, helping birth the stoneware, sewer pipe, fishing tackle, and farming equipment industries.[5][6] In 1844, Abolitionist John Brown moved into the John Brown House across the street from business partner Colonel Simon Perkins whom lived in the Perkins Stone Mansion. The Akron School Law of 1847 began the K-12 grade school system, which currently is used in every U.S. state.[13]

1850s-1890s: Summit City

Quaker Square as it appeared in 1979.

When the Ohio Women's Rights Convention came to Akron in 1851, Sojourner Truth extemporaneously delivered her speech named Ain't I A Woman?, at the Universalist Old Stone Church. Associated with the church, John R. Buchtel founded Buchtel College in 1870, renamed the University of Akron in 1913. Purchasing a mill in 1856, Ferdinand Schumacher mass-produced oat bars which the Union Army were supplied with during the American Civil War, becoming high in demand afterwords. Akron incorporated as a city in 1865.[14] Philanthropist Lewis Miller, Walter Blythe, and architect Jacob Snyder designed the widely used Akron Plan, debuting it on Akron's First Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872.[15] Numerous Congregational, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches built between the 1870s and World War I use it.[7][8] In 1883, local journalist began the modern day toy industry by founding the Akron Toy Company. A year later, the first popular toy was mass produced clay marbles made by Samuel C. Dyke at his shop where Lock 3 Park is now located. Others popular inventions include rubber balloons; ducks; dolls; balls, Baby Buggy Bumper, and Little Brown Jug. In 1895, the first long distance electric railway, the Akron, Bedford and Cleveland Railroad, began service.[16] On 25 August 1889, the Boston Daily Globe referred to Akron with the nickname "Summit City".[17] To assist local police, the city deployed the first police car in the U.S. running on electricity.[18]

1900s-1990s: Rubber Capital of the World

Goodyear headquarters

The Riot of 1900 resulted in city officials being assaulted, two deaths, plus Columbia Hall and the City Building burning to the ground.[19] The American trucking industry was birthed through Akron's Rubber Capital of the World era when the four major tire companies Goodrich Corporation (1869), Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (1898), Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (1900),[20] and General Tire (1915)[21][22] were headquartered in the city. The numerous jobs the rubber factories provided for deaf people led to Akron being nicknamed the "Crossroads of the Deaf".[23] On Easter Sunday of 1913, Akron's total rainfall was recorded at 9.55 inches resulting in a flood which killed five citizens and destroyed the Ohio and Erie Canal system. From 1916-1920 10,000 school girls took part in the successful Akron Experiment, testing iodized salt to prevent goiter in what was known as the "Goiter Belt".[24]

Rubber companies responded to housing crunches by building affordable housing for workers. Goodyear's president, Frank Seiberling, built the Goodyear Heights neighborhood for employees. Likewise, Harvey Firestone built the Firestone Park neighborhood for his employees.[25] During the 1910-1920 decade Akron became a boom town being America's fastest growing city with a 201.8% increase in population. Of the 208,000 citizens, almost one-third were immigrants (also Clark Gable)[26] and their children from places including Europe and West Virginia. In 1925 Goodyear's subsidiary Zeppelin Company began manufacturing airships used in World War II and eventually blimps for advertising purposes.[27][28][29] Akron again grew when Kenmore was annexed by voter approval on November 6, 1928. Found hiding under a bed at one of his hideouts in the city, notorious bank robber Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd was arrested under the name "Frank Mitchell" in March 1930.[30] Goodyear became America's top tire manufacturer after merging with The Kelly-Springfield Tire Company in 1935.[31] Lasting five weeks and consisting of roughly 5,000 strikers including union sympathizers from other factories and neighboring states, the Akron Rubber Strike of 1936 successfully used "sit-down" tactic being organized by the United Rubber Workers.[32] During the 1950s-60s Akron surged as use of the automobile did. The historic Rubber Bowl was used by the National Guard of the United States as a base during the racial Wooster Avenue Riots of 1968. Like many other industries of the Rust Belt, both the tire and rubber experienced major decline resulting from multiple labor union strikes occurring from the 70s-80s. By the early 1990s, Goodyear was the last major tire manufacturer based in Akron.

2000s: City of Invention

The UofA displays the Archives of the History of American Psychology

Despite the number of rubber workers decreasing by approximately half from 2000–07, Akron's research in polymers gained international notoriety.[33] It now centers the Polymer Valley which consist of 400 polymer-related companies of which 94 were located within the city itself.[9] Research is focused at the University of Akron which is home to the Goodyear Polymer Center and National Polymer Innovation Center, and first College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Due to its contributions to the Information Age, Newsweek's listed Akron 5th of ten high tech havens in 2001.[9] In 2008 "City of Invention" was added to the seal when the All-America City Award was received for the 3rd time. Summit County has received the nickname "Meth Capital of Ohio" ranking 3rd in the number of registered sites due mainly to homemade methamphetamine in Akron.[34] In September 2009 it was announced that some events of the 2014 Gay Games will use the city as a venue.


Downtown Akron from the All-America Bridge

Akron is located in the Great Lakes region approximately 39 miles (63 km) south of Lake Erie, on the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau. It is bordered by Cuyahoga Falls on the north, and Barberton on the south. It is the center of the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area which covers Summit and Portage counties, and the larger Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area. Located on the western end of the plateau, the topography of Akron includes rolling hills and varied terrain. The Ohio and Erie Canal passes through the city, separating the east from west. Akron has the only biogas facility[35] in the United States that produces methane through the decomposition process of sludge to create electricity.[36] According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2000 the city has a total area of 62.1 square miles (161 km2), of which 62.1 square miles (161 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) is water.[37]


Akron has a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa), with cold but changeable winters, wet, cool springs, warm (sometimes hot) and humid summers, and cool, rather dry autumns. Precipitation is fairly well distributed through the year, but summer tends to have the most rainfall (and also, somewhat paradoxically, the most sunshine), and autumn the least. The mid-autumn through early-spring months tend to be quite cloudy, with sometimes less than 30% possible sunshine. The cloudiest month is December, and the sunniest month is usually July, which is also the wettest month because most of the precipitation occurs with brief, intense thunderstorms. Winters tend to be cold, with average January high temperatures of 32 °F (0 °C), and average January lows of 17 °F (−8 °C), with considerable variation in temperatures. During a typical January, high temperatures of over 50 °F (10 °C) are just as common as low temperatures of below 0 °F (−18 °C). Snowfall is lighter than the snowbelt areas to the north, but is still somewhat influenced by Lake Erie. Akron-Canton Airport generally averages about 46.7 inches of snow per winter. During a typical winter, temperatures drop below 0 °F (−18 °C) on about 6 occurrences, generally only during the nighttime hours.[38] Average July high temperatures of 82 °F (27 °C), and average July lows of 61 °F (16 °C) are normal. Summer weather is more stable, generally humid with thunderstorms fairly common. Temperatures reach or exceed 90 °F (32 °C) about 9 times each summer, on average.[39] In hot summers, such as 1988, however, as many as 30 days over 90 °F (32 °C) have been observed, and in cooler summers, such as the summer of 2000, the temperature may never reach 90 °F (32 °C). Temperatures over 100 °F (38 °C) are rare (about once per decade on average), most recently occurring on several occasions in the hot summer of 1988. The all-time record high in Akron of 104°F (40°C) was established on August 6, 1918,[40] and the all-time record low of −25 °F (−32 °C) was set on January 19, 1994.[41] Normal yearly precipitation based on the 30-year average from 1971-2000 is 38.56 inches (979.4 mm).[42]

Climate data for Akron, Ohio
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
Average high °F (°C) 33.2
Average low °F (°C) 18.1
Record low °F (°C) −25
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.49
Snowfall inches (cm) 13.3
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 16.7 14.2 15.0 13.9 13.6 11.7 11.0 10.1 10.6 10.7 14.3 15.8 157.6
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 13.0 9.2 6.7 2.5 0 0 0 0 0 .5 4.3 9.5 45.7
Source: National Weather Service[42][43]


View of the Akron skyline from the west looking east


Jablonski Sculpture, a gift of the Zimmite Corporation in tribute to Nola M. Guzztta's humanitarian interest in providing for the blind a vision of artistic and architectural design through touch.[44]

As a result of multiple town merging, and industry boom, Akron's architecture is diverse. Originally a canal town, the city is divide into two by the Ohio and Erie Canal, with downtown being centered on it. Many of the city's government and civic buildings, including City Hall, the Summit County Courthouse, the Akron-Summit County Public Library, and John S. Knight Center. The First Methodist Episcopal Church first used the Akron Plan in 1872, the plan later gained popularity, being used in many Congregationalists, Baptists, and Presbyterians.[15][45] For remodeling all public schools to serve as community centers year round, the city was awarded with the City Livability Award in 2008. The National Arbor Day Foundation designated Akron as a Tree City USA for the 14th time, the latest being 2009.[10] The city is home to one of the last remaining civic theaters. Along the locks, the city has a path paved with rubber. Completed in 1931, Akron's tallest building, the FirstMerit Tower, features the art deco style and is covered in glazed architectural terra-cotta.[46] Standing 330 feet (100 m), it is built on top of the Hamilton Building, completed in 1900 in the neo-gothic style.[citation needed] Near the turn of the millennium the tower was given a $2.5 million facelift, including a $1.8 million restoration of the tower's terra-cotta, brick and limestone.[46] The top of the building has a television broadcast tower, formerly used by WAKR-TV (now WVPX-TV) and WAKR-AM.[47] The antenna reaches 134.7 metres (442 ft).[citation needed]Located on the University of Akron campus, the Goodyear Polymer Center, is glass twin towers connected by walkways. The university also utilizes the former Quaker Oats factory as a hotel shopping centers called Quaker Square. The Akron Art Museum, remodeled in 2007, is divided into three parts known as the “Crystal”,[48] “Gallery Box”,[49] and the “Roof Cloud”.[50] The contrasting neighborhoods of Goodyear Heights and Firestone Park, were built during the rubber industry to house workers and their families.

Lock 3 Park amphitheater


Akron consists of 24 neighborhoods, with an additional 3 that are unincorporated but recognized within the city. The neighborhoods of the city differ in design largely due to expansions such as town merging, annexation, housing construction in various time periods, and rubber era.

Maple Valley covers the west end of Copley Road, before reaching I-77. Along this strip are several businesses using the name, as well as the Maple Valley Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Spicertown falls under the blanket of University Park, this term is used frequently to describe the student-centered retail and residential area around East Exchange St. and Spicer, near the University of Akron. West Hill is roughly bounded by West Market on the north, West Exchange on the south, Downtown on the East, and Rhodes Ave. on the West. It features many stately older homes, particularly in the recently recognized Oakdale Historic District.


Akron's suburbs include Fairlawn, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, Tallmadge, Silver Lake, Green, and Mogadore. Akron formed Joint Economic Development Districts with Springfield, Coventry, Copley, and Bath (in conjunction with Fairlawn) townships.[51]


Stan Hywett Hall and Gardens entrance

Akron is home to E.J. Thomas Hall, the largest of three Akron performance halls. Regular acts include the Akron Symphony Orchestra, Tuesday Musical Club, and Children's Concert Society. World-class performances events include Broadway musicals, ballets, comedies, lectures, entertainers, attracting 400,000 visitors annually. The hall seats 2955, divided among three tiers. To maintain top-notch acoustic sound, the counter-weighted ceiling is adjustable, altering the physical dimensions of the hall. Located downtown is the Akron Civic Theater, which opened in 1929 as the Loewe's Theater. This atmospheric-style theatre was designed by John Eberson and contains many Moorish features including arches and decorative tiles. It originally featured elaborate wood carvings, alabaster statuary, and European antiques. The theater got its current name in 2001 after remodeling. Behind it on the canal is the Lock 3 Park amphitheater, which annually host the First Night in Akron. The Akron Art Museum also located downtown, features art produced since 1850 along with national and international exhibitions.[52] It opened in 1922 as the Akron Art Institute located in the basement of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. It moved to its current location at the renovated 1899 old post office building in 1981. In 2007, the museum more than tripled in size with the addition of the John S. and James L. Knight Building, which received the 2005 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum[53] while still under construction.[54][55]

Built between 1912 and 1915 for Frank Seiberling, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens ranks seventh on the list of Largest Historic Homes in the United States. Located within the Sand Run Metro Parks, the 104 acres (0.42 km2) F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm features a visitors' center, hiking trails, three ponds, gardens, and an array of special programs throughout the year. The Akron Police Museum displays mementos including items from Pretty Boy Floyd, whose gang frequented the city.[56][57] The city is home to several other galleries and museums include American Marble and Toy Museum and the Don Drumm Studios & Gallery.[58]

Film and television

Akron has served as the setting for several major studio and independent films. Inducted into the National Film Registry, Dance, Girl, Dance (1940), tells the story of two dancers from Akron who go to New York City.[59][60] My Name is Bill W. (1989) tells the true story of Bill Wilson who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous, which held its first meetings at the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens and has over two million members today.[61] The program's connection to the Saint Thomas Hospital is referenced in an episode of the television series Prison Break (2005), where Michael Scofield talks to Sara Tancredi on the phone while there.[62] The Akron Armory is used as a venue for a female wrestling team in ...All the Marbles (1981).[63] More Than a Game (2009) documents National Basketball Association player Lebron James and his St. Vincent – St. Mary High School high school basketball team's journey.[64] In Drake's music video to Forever (2009) off the More Than a Game Soundtrack (2009), the iconic Goodyear's logo on top the company's theater is shown. The city has been the subject of many different portrayals in media, from "Hell on Earth" in the television series I'm In Hell (2007),[65] to the whereabouts of a holy woman in The Virgin of Akron, Ohio (2007).[66] Henry Spivey of My Own Worst Enemy (2008), travels to Akron through the series many times.[67] George Costanza in an episode of Seinfeld (1989), flies to the city.[68] M.Y.O.B. (2008) is centered on an Akron runaway girl named Riley Veatch.[69] Jake Foley of Jake 2.0 (2003), Pickles family of the Rugrats (1991), and J.Reid of In Too Deep (1999) are also natives of the city.

In popular culture

Thomas and Beulah, a book of poetry written by native and former Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Rita Dove, tells the story of her grandmother and grandfather who separately moved from the South to the city, where they lived through the Great Depression and the rest of their lives.[70] The city is also the setting for the novel The Coast of Akron, by former editor of Esquire, Adrienne Miller.[71] To reflect Akron's decline during the 80s, Native Chrissie Hynde wrote the Pretenders song "My City Was Gone".[72] The Black Keys album title Rubber Factory refers to the former Goodrich Corporation rubber factory in which it was recorded.[73] Akron serves as a setting in the first-person-shooter PC platform video game, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy In H.A.R.M.'s Way.[74][75]


The Grassman, also known as the Ohio Grassman and Kenmore Grassman, is an alleged bipedal, ape-like creature reportedly seen in Akron, primarily around Kenmore.[76] In 1995, the possible creature got its name when researchers from Cincinnati came to Akron due to claims of local residents who said an unusual creature was living in a swampy area of the Kenmore neighborhood off Manchester Road.


Akron Art Museum with lit roof cloud

Akron is home to many festivals throughout the year. In mid July, the National Hamburger Festival consists of different vendors serving original recipe hamburgers and has a Miss Hamburger contest.[77] Lock 3 Park annually hosts the First Night Akron celebration on New Year's Eve.[78] The park also annually hosts the Italian Festival and the "Rib, White & Blue" food festival in July.[79] Founders Day is celebrated annually due to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous within the city.[80][81] In Highland Square, Akron hosts a convergence of art, music, and community annually called Art in the Square, a festival featuring local artists and musicians.[79]


Several residents of Akron have played a role in defining the American cuisine. Ferdinand Schumacher created the first American oatmeal and is a pioneer of breakfast cereal.[82] He also founded the Empire Barley Mill and German Mills American Oatmeal Company,[83] which would later merge several times with other companies, with the result being the Quaker Oats Company.[84] The Menches Brothers, are the disputed inventors of the waffle ice cream cone,[85] caramel corn,[86] and hamburger.[87] The beer, BORIS The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout, brewed by the Hoppin' Frog Breweing Company located in the city, won 1st place in the Imperial Stout category of the 2008 Great American Beer Festival, and the company was named the 24th best brewer in the world for 2010 by RateBeer.com[88] Native singer Chrissie Hynde owns The VegiTerranean restaurant in the Northside Lofts, and other notable eateries in Akron are Talamos Pizza with its famous jojo's and garlic dip recipe by mama Talamo. Other places include: Luigi's, Mary Coyle Ice Cream, Metro Burger, Swenson's, Ken Stewart's, The Diamond Grille, Tangier, Menches Brothers Restaurant, Louie's, Duffy's, New Era, The Office Bistro, Strickland's Frozen Custard, and Hamburger Station.[89][90] The rivalry between Swenson's and Skyway, aired on Iron Chef Michael Symon's Food Feuds, which Swenson's won.[91]

Spoken dialects

Although Akron is in northern Ohio, where the Inland North dialect is expected, its settlement history, puts it in the North Midland dialect area.[92] Some localisms that have developed include devilstrip, which refers to the grass strip between a sidewalk and street, and the unofficial term Akroness,[93][not in citation given]which has been defined as "simultaneously possessing a look of prolonged neglect and frequent use."


Canal Park

Akron's professional sports teams include the Akron Aeros (Minor League Baseball), Akron Racers (National Pro Fastpitch), The Rubber City Rollergirls (Roller Derby) and NEO Roller Derby,(Women's Flat Track Derby Association) (Roller derby). Local sporting facilities include Canal Park, Firestone Stadium, Summit County Fairgrounds Arena Complex, InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field, James A. Rhodes Arena, and the Lee Jackson Field.

The Aeros won the Eastern League Championship six times, the last being in 2009. Nearly growing 87% that year, the Akron Road Runner Marathon has consecutively gained participants since beginning.[94] It was announced that Akron will host some of the events of the 2014 Gay Games including the marathon, the men's and women's golf tournaments at Firestone Country Club, and softball at Firestone Stadium.[95] The All-American Soap Box Derby taken place each year at the Derby Downs since 1936. The Firestone Country Club, annually host the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and in the past hosted tournaments including the PGA Championship, American Golf Classic, and Rubber City Open Invitational. The Akron & National Marble Tournament was created in 1923, by Roy W. Howard, being owned by the Akron District Marbles Tournament and the Akron Beacon Journal sometime before it ended permanently in the 1960s. On January 7, 1938, Akron became the birthplace of women's professional Mud Wrestling, in a match including Professional Wrestling and Wrestling Observer Hall of Famer, Mildred Burke.[96] The Professional Bowlers Association started in the city during 1958. LeBron James' King for Kids bike-a-thon feature James riding with kids through the city each June.[97] In November, the city host the Home Run for the Homeless marathon.

Firestone Stadium hosts the National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series.

Past sports teams

Former teams of Akron include the Akron Professionals (National Football League), Goodyear Silents (deaf semi-professional football), Akron Black Tyrites (Negro League), Akron Americans (International Hockey League), Akron Lightning (International Basketball League), and the Akron Wingfoots (National Basketball League), who won the first NBL Championship and the International Cup three times. The Akron Firestone Non-Skids (National Basketball League), later won the title consecutively, in 1939 and 1940.

College sports

InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field

As home to the University of Akron, the city is also home to the Akron Zips, who compete in the NCAA in a variety of sports at the Division I level. Before completion of the InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field, the football team played at the historic Rubber Bowl, former home of the 1920 National Football League Championship winners, the Akron Professionals. The men's basketball team appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 1986, 2009, and 2011. In 2009, the Zips men's soccer team completed the regular-season undefeated, then won the NCAA Men's Division I Soccer Championship in 2010. Zippy, one of the eight female NCAA mascots, won the Capital One National Mascot of the Year contest in 2007.

Parks and recreation

Firestone Country Club

Major parks in Akron include Lock 3, Firestone, Goodyear Heights, the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm (or Naturealm), and part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Several of the parks along on the locks of the canal. Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron is the city's hub for entertainment. It is commonly used as an outdoor amphitheater hosting live musical entertainment, festivals, and special events year-round. The park was created in the early 21st century to provide green space within the city of Akron. The Ohio-Erie Canal can still be seen flowing behind the stage where there was once a boat yard and dry dock. Later, a pottery factory stood there until the O’Neil’s parking deck was built in the current location. More than 65,000 guests use the park for recreation annually. During Lock 3 Live, it holds concerts for almost every musical genre, including alternative, R&B, reggae, gospel, country, pop, jazz, and classic rock. Some festivals the park hosts throughout the year include Soap Box Derby opening ceremonies, firefighter competitions, charity events, tournaments, and animal events. From November through February, Lock 3 Park is transformed into an outdoor ice-skating rink.[98] Adjacent to the Derby Downs race hill is a 19,000-square-foot (1,800 m2) outdoor skatepark. The park features concrete ramps, including two bowls going as deep as 7 feet (2.1 m), a snake run, two hips, a stair set with handrail, many smaller quarter pipes and a variety of grind boxes. Positioned just a few feet from the Akron Skatepark is a Pro BMX course where organized races are often held in the warmer months.

The Ohio and Erie Canal towpath is a regional bike and hike trail that follows the canal. A bridge was completed in 2008, crossing Route 59/The Innerbelt, which connects the towpath proper with bike routes painted onto streets downtown, thus completing another step towards the connection of Cleveland and East Liverpool with a hike and bike trail.[citation needed] The State of Ohio plans to reconstruct the trail which once ran completely through Ohio, to New Philadelphia from Cleveland. The trail features a floating observation deck section over Summit Lake. It is a popular tourist attraction, as it attracts over 2 million visits annually.[99][100][101] The Portage Hike and Bike Trail, when fully complete, will connect with the hike and bike trails in the county.[102]


Akron Beacon Journal Headquarters

Akron is served in print by the daily Akron Beacon Journal and the weekly West Side Leader newspapers and the monthly magazine Akron Life & Leisure. The Buchtelite newspaper is published by the University of Akron.[103]

Akron is less than 40 miles (64 km) from Cleveland, and forms part of the Cleveland-Akron (Canton) media market, the 18th largest market in the US.[104] However, WAOH-LP, WEAO (PBS), WVPX (ION), and WBNX-TV (CW) are licensed to Akron. WAOH and WEAO serve the city of Akron specifically, while WBNX and WVPX identify themselves as Akron/Cleveland, serving the entire Northeast Ohio market. Akron has no native news broadcast, having lost its only news station when the former WAKC became WVPX in 1996. WVPX and Cleveland's WKYC later provided a joint news program, which was cancelled in 2005.[105][106]

On the radio side, Akron is served by WZIP 88.1 (Top 40 / College – University of Akron), WAPS 91.3 (Varied formats: local artists, modern rock, blues, jazz and public radio), WAKR 1590 (Oldies), WKDD 98.1 (Adult contemporary), WHLO 640 (News/talk), WJMP 1520 (News/Talk), WKSU 89.7 (National Public Radio, operated from the campus of Kent State University), WONE 97.5 (Classic rock), WNIR-FM 100.1 (News/talk), WSTB 88.9 (Alternative), WARF 1350 (Fox Sports Ohio), WQMX 94.9 (Country), WRQK 106.9 (Rock), and WHOF 101.7 (AC).


GOJO Industries headquarters

Many industries in the United States either began or were influenced by the city. After beginning the tire and rubber industry during the 20th century with the founding of Goodrich, Firestone, General Tire, also the Goodyear merger with The Kelly-Springfield Tire Company gained the status of, "Rubber Capital of the World". Akron has won economic awards such as for City Livability and All-American City, and deemed a high tech haven greatly contributing to the in the Information Age.[107] Current Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the city include the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and FirstEnergy. In addition, the city is the headquarters to a number of other notable companies such as A. Schulman, GOJO, Advanced Elastomer Systems, FirstMerit Bank, Roadway Express, Myers Industries, Acme Fresh Market, Sterling Jewelers, and Lockheed Martin, Maritime Systems & Sensors Division. Goodyear, the fifth-largest private employer in Summit County,[108] is currently constructing a new headquarters in the city. The project referred to as, Akron Riverwalk, will feature a large retail and commercial development area.[109] The project began in 2007, but was put on hold due to the financial crisis of 2007–2010, and is now continuing.[110] Bridgestone is building a new technical center, with state-of-the-art R&D labs, where its operation will relocate to by 2012.[111][112] The Eastern Ohio Division of KeyBank, which has six branches in the city, built a regional headquarters in Downtown.[113] The city has a free WiFi corridor centered in downtown. Neighborhoods in range include Goodyear Heights, East Akron, North Hill, Firestone Park, Kenmore, and West Akron.[114] Some frequented locations in the area include, Akron-Summit County Public Library, John S. Knight Center, and the Intermodel Transit Center.

Polymer Valley

Polymer Valley is in the northeastern part of the Ohio, centered in Akron. The area holds forty-five percent of the state's polymer industries with the oldest starting the 19th century. It is considered[by whom?] the polymer manufacturing center in the country, due to the educational, mineral, and transportation resources of the area. During the 1980s and 1990s, an influx of new polymer companies came to the region.[115] In 2001, more than 400 companies manufactured polymer-based materials in the region.[116] Many University of Akron scientists became world renowned for their research done at the Goodyear Polymer Center.[citation needed] The first College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering was begun by the university. In 2010, the National Polymer Innovation Center opened on campus.


Local hospitals

Akron has designated an area called the Biomedical Corridor, aimed at luring health-related ventures to the region. It encompasses 1,240 acres (5.0 km2) of private and publicly owned land, bounded by Akron General on the west and Akron City on the east, and also includes Akron Children’s near the district’s center with Saint Thomas Hospital to the north of its northern boundaries.[117] Since its start in 2006, the corridor added the headquarters of companies such as Akron Polymer Systems.[118]

Akron's adult hospitals are owned by two health systems, Summa Health System and Akron General Health System. Summa Health System operates Akron City Hospital and St. Thomas Hospital, which in 2008, were recognized for the 11th consecutive year as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.[119][120] Summa is recognized as having one of the best orthopaedics programs in the nation with a ranking of 28th.[121] Akron General Health System operates Akron General Medical Center, which in 2009, was recognized as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.[122][123] Akron Children's Hospital is an independent entity that specializes in pediatric care and burn care.[124] In 1974, Dr. Howard Igel and Dr. Aaron Freeman successfully grew human skin in a lab to treat burn victims, making Akron Children's Hospital the first hospital in the world to achieve such a feat.[125] Akron City and Akron General hospitals are designated Level I Trauma Centers.

Top employers

According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[126] the top private sector employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Summa Health System 5,669
2 Akron General Health System 4,532
3 University of Akron 4,427
4 County of Summit 3,388
5 Akron Public Schools 3,131
6 Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company 3,001
7 Akron Children's Hospital 2,680
8 Time Warner Cable 2,440
9 FirstEnergy 2,316
10 Sterling Jewelers 2,045

Government and politics

The Ocasek Building includes state, county, and city offices.[127]

The mayor of Akron is elected in a citywide vote, the city has reached its 59th mayor. They city is divided into 10 wards, each elect a member to the Akron City Council, while an additional 3 are elected at large. The mayor's cabinent currently consist of directors and deputy directors of administration, communications, community relations, economic development, intergovernmental relations, labor relations, law, planning & urban development, planning director - deputy, public safety, and public service.[128] The city adopted a new charter of the commissioner manager type in 1920, but reverted to its old form in 1924.

The current mayor of Akron is Don Plusquellic, who is currently serving his fifth term and was the President of the United States Conference of Mayors during 2004. Plusquellic is also a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group dedicated to making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets.[129] In 2008, he was selected along with other mayors, by President Barack Obama to work on solving the Global financial crisis of 2008–2009 at the local level.[130] He defeated a recall attempt in 2009.

Humanitarian affairs

Aside from city founder, Simon Perkins, negotiating a treaty with Native Americans to establish a mail route from the Connecticut Western Reserve to Detroit in 1807, others partook in historic humanitarian affairs in Akron. Aside from being part of the Underground Railroad, when active, John Brown was a resident, today having two landmarks (John Brown House) (John Brown Monument) dedicated to him. During the 1851 Women's Rights Convention, Sojourner Truth delivered her speech entitled "Ain't I A Woman?". In 1905, a statue of an Indian named Unk was erected on Portage Path, which was part of the effective western boundary of the White and Native American lands from 1785 to 1805.[131] The Summit County chapter of the Ku Klux Klan reported having 50,000 members, making it the largest local chapter in the country during the 20th century. In 1905, the sheriff, county officials, mayor of Akron, judges, county commissioners, and most members of Akron's school board were members. The Klan's influence in the city's politics eventually ended after Wendell Willkie, arrived and challenged them.[132] Race took part in two of Akron's major riots, the Riot of 1900 and the Wooster Ave. Riots of 1968. Others giving speeches on race, in the city include Dr. W.E.B. DuBois (1920)[133] and President Bill Clinton (1997).[134] In 1971, Alpha Phi Alpha Homes Inc. was founded in Akron by the Eta Tau Lambda chapter, with James R. Williams as chairman. The centerpiece, Henry Arthur Callis Tower, is located in the Channelwood Village area of the city. In 2008, 91 year old Akron native, Addie Polk, became the poster child of the financial crisis of 2007–2010, after shooting herself.[135]


Simon Perkins, founder of Akron, in front of the University of Akron College of Business Administration moved from its original location in Grace Park.
Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 3,266
1860 3,477 6.5%
1870 10,006 187.8%
1880 16,512 65.0%
1890 27,601 67.2%
1900 42,728 54.8%
1910 69,067 61.6%
1920 208,435 201.8%
1930 255,040 22.4%
1940 244,791 −4.0%
1950 274,605 12.2%
1960 290,351 5.7%
1970 275,425 −5.1%
1980 237,177 −13.9%
1990 223,019 −6.0%
2000 217,074 −2.7%
2010 199,110 −8.3%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 217,074 people, 90,116 households, and 53,709 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,497.3 people per square mile (1,350.3/km²). There were 97,315 housing units at an average density of 1,567.9 per square mile (605.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.22% White, 28.48% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.50% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.43% from other races, and 2.07% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.16% of the population. The top 5 largest ancestries include German (18.1%), Irish (11.5%), English (7.2%), Italian (6.8%), and American (6.4%).[137]

There were 90,116 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.5% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.4% were non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,835, and the median income for a family was $39,381. Males had a median income of $31,898 versus $24,121 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,596. About 14.0% of families and 17.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.7% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.

Akron has a metropolitan population of 694,960 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Akron is also part of the larger Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area, which was the 14th largest in the country with a population of over 2.9 million according to the 2000 Census.


Goodyear Polymer Center

Preschool, elementary, and secondary education is mainly provided by the Akron City School District. Planning of the district began in 1840, when Ansel Miller suggested to build free public schools for all children in the city, paid for by property taxes. After enduring much opposition by citizens, in 1843 Miller joined with Rev. Isaac Jennings. Three years later, Jennings became the chairman of a committee of citizens who discussed how to improve the school system. On November 21, 1846, their plan was approved unanimously by the citizens. The Ohio Legislature adopted the plan, called "An act for the support and better regulation of the Common Schools of the Town of Akron" on February 8, 1847. Akron’s first public schools were established in the fall of 1847 and were led by Mortimer Leggett. The first annual report showed that it cost less than $2 a year to educate a child. In 1857 the cost of running the schools for a year was $4,200. The primary schools were taught by young women, which the Akron Board of Education justified because they could be paid less and were under the supervision of a male superintendent. From 1877 to 1952, Akron graduated students semi-annually instead of annually. 9% of the city’s school-aged population were born in other countries in 1888. In the 1920s, an Americanization program was designed to help the many Akron students who were first-generation Americans. Classes were in the rubber companies and some of the schools. A “continuation school” began for working boys and girls who were required by law to have at least four hours of schooling a week. In 1924, Akron's platoon schools attracted visitors from all over the country. Being a stronghold for the Ku Klux Klan during the decade, the majority of school board and government officials were members. Their influence ended with the arrival of Wendell Willkie. During the city's 1950s boom town phase, Akron schools grew eight times faster than the city’s population. In 1967, Kenmore launched the Air Force JROTC. In 1971, Jennings piloted the middle school model, which moved ninth-graders to the senior high school. In 1984, all-day kindergarten was piloted at Seiberling, Rankin and Hatton schools, and Ellet, East and Garfield high schools piloted the in-school suspension program. The district received an A+ evaluation from the state in 1987.[138]

In 2009 Akron-Summit County Public Library was recognized with a 5 star rating by Library Journal[139]

The city is home to the University of Akron, which the Princeton Review listed among the Best in the Midwest, in 2008.[140] Originally Buchtel College, the school is home the Goodyear Polymer Center and the National Polymer Innovation Center.[141] All Akron Public Schools are currently going through a 15-year, $800 million rebuilding process.[142] In recent times the city’s schools have been moved from “Academic Watch” to “Continuous Improvement” by the Ohio Department of Education.[143] Akron also has many private, parochial and charter schools. Akron Public Schools made headlines in 2004 when a freshman student of Akron Digital Academy, the district’s own online charter school, was not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, an event later covered and satirized by The Daily Show. National Basketball Association player LeBron James, attended St. Vincent - St. Mary High School.



Former Akron Fulton International Airport administration building

The primary terminal that airline passengers, travelling to or from Akron, use is the Akron-Canton Regional Airport, which in 2010, had its busiest January of all time with nearly 107,000 passengers.[144] The Akron-Canton Airport is a commercial Class C airport located in the city of Green,[145] roughly 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Akron operated jointly by Stark and Summit counties. Two low-fare airlines, Frontier Airlines and AirTran Airways, have begun serving Akron-Canton in recent years, making it an alternative for travellers to or from the Cleveland area as well. Akron Fulton International Airport is a general aviation airport located in and owned by the City of Akron that serves private planes. It first opened in 1929 and has operated in several different capacities since then. The airport had commercial scheduled airline service until the 1950s and it is now used for both cargo and private planes.[146] It is home of the Lockheed Martin Airdock, where the Goodyear blimps were originally stored and maintained. The Goodyear blimps are now housed outside of Akron in a facility on the shores of Wingfoot Lake in nearby Suffield Township.


Akron Northside Station

Akron Northside Station is a train station located in the city at 27 Ridge Street along the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.[147]

Bus and public transportation

Intermodal Transit Center

Public transportation is available through the METRO Regional Transit Authority system, which has a fleet of over two hundred buses and trolleys and operates local routes as well as running commuter buses into downtown Cleveland. Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) also has a bus line running between Canton and Akron and the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA) runs an express route connecting the University of Akron with Kent State University.[148] Metro RTA operates out of the Intermodal Transit Center located on South Broadway Street. This facility, which opened on January 18, 2009, also houses inter-city bus transportation available through Greyhound Lines.[149]


Akron is served by two major Interstates that bisect the city. Unlike other cities, the bisection does not occur in the Central Business District, nor do the Interstates serve the downtown region, rather The Akron Innerbelt and to a much lesser extent Ohio State Route 8 serve these functions.

The Innerbelt looking northeast
  • Interstate 77 connects Marietta, Ohio to Cleveland, Ohio. In Akron, it features 15 interchanges, four of which permit freeway to freeway movements. It runs north-south at the southern part of the city to its concurrency with I-76 where it takes a westerly turn and after the concurrency takes a northwest turn.
  • Interstate 76 connects Interstate 71 to Youngstown, Ohio and farther environs. It runs east-west and has 18 interchanges in Akron, four of which are freeway to freeway. The East Leg was rebuilt in the 1990s to feature 6 lanes and longer merge lanes. The concurrency with Interstate 77 is eight lanes. The Kenmore Leg is a four lane leg that is slightly less than two miles (3 km) long and connects to I-277.
  • Interstate 277 is an east-west spur that it forms with US 224 after I-76 splits to the north to form the Kenmore Leg. It is six lane and cosigned with U.S. 224.
View of Akron from the south looking north
  • The Akron Innerbelt is a six lane, 2.24-mile (3.60 km) spur from the I-76/I-77 concurrency and serves the urban core of the city. Its ramps are directional from the Interstates so it only serves west side drivers. ODOT is considering changing this design to attract more traffic to the route. The freeway comes to an abrupt end near the northern boundary of downtown where it becomes Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The freeway itself is officially known as "The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Freeway". The freeway was originally designed to connect directly to State Route 8, but plans were laid to rest in the mid seventies due to financial troubles.
  • Ohio State Route 8 is an original state highway that is a limited access route that connects Akron's northern suburbs with Interstates 76 and 77. State Route 8's southern terminus is at the central interchange where it meets I-76 and I-77. The second freeway in Akron to be completed, it went through a major overhaul in 2003 with brand new ramps and access roads. In 2007 ODOT began a project to upgrade the road to Interstate highway standards north of Akron from State Route 303 to I-271, providing a high speed alternative to Cleveland.[150]


Summit County Courthouse and police car. The modern police car originated in Akron in 1899.[18]

In 1999, Akron ranked as the 94th most dangerous city and the 229th safest, on the 7th Morgan Quitno list.[151] Preliminary Ohio crime statistics show aggravated assaults increased by 45% during 2007.[152] Akron became the first city in the United States to train and equip officers with the CornerShot, to aid them in fighting crime.[153] The city invented the first patrol cars to assist officers.

Historically, organized crime operated in the city with the presence of the Black Hand led by Rosario Borgio, once headquartered on the city's north side in the first decade of the 20th century[citation needed] and the Walker-Mitchell mob, of which Pretty Boy Floyd was a member.[154] Akron has experienced several riots in its history including, the Riot of 1900 and the Wooster Avenue Riots of 1968.

Methamphetamine history

The distribution of methamphetamine ("meth") in Akron greatly contributed to Summit County becoming known as the "Meth Capital of Ohio". The county ranks third in the nation in the number of registered meth sites.[34] During the 1990s, motorcycle gang the Hells Angels sold the drug from bars frequented by members.[155] Between January 2004 and August 2009, the city had significantly more registered sites than any other city in the state.[156] Authority believe a disruption of a major Mexican meth operation, attributed to the increase of it being made locally.[157] In 2007, APD received a grant to help continue its work with other agencies and jurisdictions to support them in ridding the city of meth labs.[158] The Akron Police Department coordinates with the Summit County Drug Unit and the Drug Enforcement Administration, forming the Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory Response Team.[159]

Notable people

Mission Specialist Judith Resnik
Mission Specialist Judith Resnik on the middeck of Discovery during STS-41-D

Akron has produced and been home to a number of notable individuals in varying fields. Its natives and residents are referred to as "Akronites". The first postmaster of the Connecticut Western Reserve and president of its bank, General Simon Perkins co-founded Akron in 1825. His son, Colonel Simon Perkins, while living in Akron during the same time as abolitionist John Brown, went into business with Brown.

Noted athletes to have come from Akron include National Basketball Association players LeBron James and Stephen Curry, Basketball Hall of Famers Gus "Honeycomb" Johnson and Nate "The Great" Thurmond, Baseball Hall of Famer Thurman Munson, International Boxing Hall of Famer Gorilla Jones, and former Northwestern University and Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian.

Performing artists to come from Akron include bands such as Devo and The Black Keys, singers Chrissie Hynde, James Ingram, David Allan Coe famous outlaw country singer, actors and actresses Frank Dicopoulos, David McLean, Melina Kanakaredes, and Elizabeth Franz. Tool's Maynard James Keenan is also from Akron.

Owner of over 400 patents, native Stanford R. Ovshinsky invented the widely used nickel-metal hydride battery. Richard Smalley, winner of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering buckminsterfullerene (buckyballs) was born in the city during 1943. Another native, the second female astronaut in Outer space Judith Resnik died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and has the Resnik Moon crater named in her honor.

Sister cities

Global steet sign

Akron has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:


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Further reading

  • Akron Chamber of Commerce Year Book, (1913–14)
  • The University of Akron Press
  • Dyer, Joyce, Gum-Dipped: A Daughter Remembers Rubber Town, The University of Akron Press: Akron (2003)
  • Endres, Kathleen, Akron's Better Half: Women's Clubs and the Humanization of a City, 1825–1925, The University of Akron Press: Akron (2006)
  • Jones, Alfred Winslow, Life, Liberty, & Property: A Story of Conflict and a Measurement of Conflicting Rights, The University of Akron Press: Akron (1999)
  • Russ Musarra and Chuck Ayers, Walks around Akron, The University of Akron Press: Akron (2007)
  • S. A. Lane, Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County, (Akron, 1892)
  • S. Love and David Giffels, Wheels of Fortune: The Story of Rubber in Akron, Ohio, The University of Akron Press: Akron (1998)
  • S. Love, Ian Adams, and Barney Taxel, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, The University of Akron Press: Akron (2000)
  • F. McGovern, Written on the Hills: The Making of the Akron Landscape, The University of Akron Press: Akron (1996)
  • F. McGovern, Fun, Cheap, and Easy: My Life in Ohio Politics, 1949–1964, The University of Akron Press: Akron (2002).

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