General Simon Perkins and Paul Williams founded the city in 1825 at the summit of the soon to be completed Ohio and Erie Canal. Akron comes from a Greek word meaning ‘High Place’. In 1832 the Ohio & Erie Canal opened joining the Cuyahoga and Ohio rivers.
In 1840 Summit County was formed and Akron became the county seat the following year. 1844 Abolitionist John Brown moved to Akron into what is now known as the John Brown House.
The big tire companies, Goodrich (1870) Goodyear (1898), Firestone (1900) and many smaller ones were headquartered in Akron from the turn of the century and people flocked to Akron for jobs and the growing city opportunities.
The city’s population tripled during this time as demand for automobile tires soared. This earned the Akron the title “Rubber Capital of the World”.
Akron Rubber Strike 1936
Fueled by poor working conditions, low wages with little to no benefits the Akron Rubber Strike of 1936 ushered in the union organizational strength in the rubber industry. The strike was viewed as a major victory for the workers rights.
The majority of the Hicks Babies grew up in Akron-otherwise known as the Rubber City. This created an environment that could easily hide the addition of 200+ babies into the neighborhoods.
By the early 1990’s most of the tire companies left Akron eliminating over half of union jobs from the tire companies.
Today the economy has shifted with Akron’s international reputation in polymer research. The University of Akron with the Goodyear Polymer Center and College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering is known as The Polymer Valley. In 2001 Newsweek included Akron fifth of ten high-tech communities.
In 2008 the “City of Invention” was included in the city seal. Akron has also received the All-American City Award three times.
Currently, Downtown Akron is going through a major renovation project in an effort to bring more people to visit.
Thing to do in Akron
Akron is home to Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, the 20th largest home in the U.S., and a National Historic Landmark. Think a smaller version of Biltmore. It’s open seasonally to the public from April 1st through December 30th.
Other places to visit while in Akron:
Perkins Stone Mansion and John Brown House gives the story of the founding family of Akron. Abolitionist John Brown also lived in a separate house owned by the Perkins family for 10 years. He was in business with the Perkins family while in Akron.
Dr. Bob’s House the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous is much revered by recovering alcoholics from around the world. Every year thousands of AA members flock to visit the house during Founders week.
Akron Art Museum this 63,000 square foot building is home to nationally recognized collections of art created after 1850. It hosts major temporary exhibits throughout the year.
Akron Civic Theater is one of sixteen atmospheric theatres designed by John Eberson left in the United States. The Civic theater has been exhibiting shows, concerts, special events and movies for over 90 years.
The Goodyear Zepplin Corporation constructed Goodyear Blimp Airdocks in 1929. It is still in use to this day. It is not open to the public, but can be viewed from the road.
After leaving the Goodyear Airdock, head across the road for the award winning Strickland’s Frozen Custard stand. If you’ve never had frozen custard, just think ice cream stands from your past.
There was a large influx of Italian immigrants seeking jobs in the rubber factories. The large Italian population produced a great selection of Italian restaurants.
No visit to Akron would be official without going to Luigis Restaurant. Great food, great service, and always a line, makes Luigis a must stop. Leave your credit card at home, because they only take cash.
Not into Italian food? Then go to a drive-in Lebron James is crazy about. Swenson’s Drive-in is home to the Galley Boy cheeseburger, America’s best cheeseburger.
There are many more hidden gems in Akron, if you have a favorite place let us know.