Cuyahoga Falls is a city in Summit County, Ohio, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 49,652. It is the second-largest city in Summit County and part of the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area and of the Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area. The city was founded in 1812 by William Wetmore and was originally named Manchester. Cuyahoga Falls is named after the Cuyahoga River (which flows into Lake Erie) and the series of waterfalls that run along the southern boundary of the city.
Cuyahoga Falls is bordered by Akron to the south and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to the northwest.
Cuyahoga Falls was formed in 1812 near the junction of what was then Northampton, Stow, Tallmadge, and Portage townships. The focus was the series of Cuyahoga River waterfalls that provided power for manufacturing.
In 1812, Kelsey and Wilcox built a dam on the Cuyahoga River at a place where a railroad bridge crossed it in 1876. They then built a flour mill, an oil mill, and a saw mill. This led to the construction of a number of houses. This area was known as the old village. Development moved downstream, though, when the power was discovered to be better there. The old village was eventually destroyed in 1826, when a dam built by William Wetmore flooded the dam at the old village and its mills were torn down.
The village proper was first laid out in 1826 by Judge Richardson.
The town was incorporated in 1836, occupying 240 rods from Stow and Tallmadge townships. In 1853, seeing that the village and township of Cuyahoga Falls occupied the same territory, the village council disbanded and the community was only a township until 1868.
In 1841, the Summit County Board of Commissioners named Cuyahoga Falls the county seat. The state legislature then intervened and put the location of the county seat up to a popular vote. Akron won and has been the county seat ever since. In spite of being named the county seat, Cuyahoga Falls never really functioned as such.
In March 1851, the township of Cuyahoga Falls was created out of the village limits. They covered the same territory, so the village council voted to adjourn sine die, letting the village be run under township jurisdiction until June 3, 1868, when the municipal government returned.
On July 3, 1940, the Doodlebug Disaster train wreck killed 43 people, the worst disaster in the history of the city.
In 1985, a referendum of merger between the city and neighboring Northampton Township was approved by local voters. In 1986, Cuyahoga Falls merged with Northampton Township, the first merger of a city and township in Ohio.
Cuyahoga Falls had been founded as an industrial city, taking advantage of the river power. By the 1970s, though, it had become a residential community. This changed when Don Robart became mayor. He had been in favor of the merger with Northampton Township because of the additional land that could be used for development. Parts of that area have since been used for industrial development. Commercial development has also picked up, especially in the Howe Avenue area at the southern border of the city.