Akron is the fifth largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Summit County. It is located in the Great Lakes region approximately south of Lake Erie along the Little Cuyahoga River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 199,110. The Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area covers Summit and Portage counties, and in 2010 had a population of 703,200. Akron is also part of the larger Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area, which in 2010 had a population of 2,780,440.
Akron was co-founded in 1825 when suggested by Paul Williams to Simon Perkins. In 1833, "South" was temporarily added to the name when Eliakim Crosby settled a bordering North Akron. After Summit County formed from portions of Portage, Medina, and Stark counties in 1840, Akron succeeded Cuyahoga Falls as county seat a year later. The Akron School Law of 1847 created the K-12 system. In 1851, Sojourner Truth attended a convention and extemporaneously delivered the original "Ain't I a Woman?" speech. During the Civil War, Ferdinand Schumacher supplied the Union Army with oats produced by his mill along the Ohio Canal. Between the 1870s and World War I, numerous churches across the nation were built using the Akron Plan.
With a population increase of 201.8% during the 1910s, it became the nation's fastest growing city due to industries such as the stoneware, sanitary sewer, fishing tackle, farming equipment, match, toy, and rubber. The companies General Tire, Goodrich, Firestone, and Goodyear built headquarters, but only the latter remains. Airships, blimps, dirigibles, and zeppelins have been manufactured at the Goodyear Airdock since World War II. The Goodyear Polymer and National Polymer Innovation Centers are on the University of Akron campus which anchors the Polymer Valley and is home to the Archives of the History of American Psychology. Akron also headquartered the National Marble Tournament, Professional Bowlers Association, and Women's Professional Mud Wrestling. Home to employers such as Summa, GOJO Industries, FirstMerit Bank, and FirstEnergy, it is listed by Newsweek as one of ten Information Age high tech havens. Awarded by the National Civic League and National Arbor Day Foundation, it was named one of the world's most livable cities. The All-American Soapbox Derby, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, National Hamburger Festival, Founders Day (Alcoholics Anonymous), and Road Runner Akron Marathon are annually hosted by the city which is a venue for some events of the 2014 Gay Games. Tourist attractions include Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Lock 3 Park where the American Marble & Toy Manufacturing Company once stood.
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. 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. 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.
1850s–1890s: Summit City
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. 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. Numerous Congregational, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches built between the 1870s and World War I use it. 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. On August 25, 1889, the Boston Daily Globe referred to Akron with the nickname "Summit City". To assist local police, the city deployed the first police car in the U.S. running on electricity.
1900s–1990s: Rubber Capital of the World
The Riot of 1900 resulted in city officials being assaulted, two deaths, plus Columbia Hall and the City Building burning to the ground. 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), and General Tire (1915) 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". On Easter Sunday 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".
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. 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) 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. 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. Goodyear became America's top tire manufacturer after merging with The Kelly-Springfield Tire Company in 1935. 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. 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
Despite the number of rubber workers decreasing by approximately half from 2000–07, Akron's research in polymers gained an international reputation. It now centers the Polymer Valley which consist of 400 polymer-related companies of which 94 were located within the city itself. 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. 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. In September 2009 it was announced that some events of the 2014 Gay Games will use the city as a venue.