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Akron () is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Summit County. It is located on the western edge of the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau, approximately 39 miles (63 km) south of Lake Erie.
As of the 2015 Census Estimate, the city proper had a total population of 197,542, making it the 119th largest city in the United States. The Akron, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) covers Summit and Portage counties, and in 2010 had a population of 703,200. It is also part of the larger Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH Combined Statistical Area, which in 2013 had a population of 3,501,538, ranking 15th.
Co-founded along the Little Cuyahoga River in 1825 by Simon Perkins and Paul Williams, it was chosen as a strategic point at the summit of the developing Ohio and Erie Canal. The name derived from the Greek word "ἄκρον" signifying a summit or high point. Due to Eliakim Crosby founding "North Akron" (Cascade) in 1833, "South" was added to its name until the two merged into an incorporated village in 1836. Neighboring settlements Kenmore and Ellet became annexed in 1929. Residents of the city are called "Akronites". It has had many nicknames, three of which are "Rubber Capital of the World", "Rubber City" and "City of Invention".
Akron became a manufacturing center owing to its location on the canal, as well as being connected to numerous others and railroad lines. With Goodyear, Gojo Industries, FirstEnergy, Huntington Bank (formerly known as FirstMerit Corporation), and Charter Spectrum among its employers, its economy has diversified sectors that include manufacturing, education, healthcare, and biomedical.
The city is home to the All-American Soapbox Derby, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, Akron City Hospital (known for LeBron James and Stephen Curry), the Goodyear Polymer Center, and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It is also the former home of Goodrich, Firestone, General Tire, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, National Marble Tournament, Professional Bowlers Association, Women's Professional Mud Wrestling, and first National Football League Champions the Akron Pros.
Notable historical events that occurred in the city include the Akron School Law of 1847 creating the K-12 system, and Sojourner Truth giving her Ain't I A Woman? speech in 1851. Resident Ferdinand Schumacher supplied the Union Army with quaker oats during the American Civil War. The popularization of the church architectural Akron Plan, the goiter prevention iodized salt Akron Experiment, City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, and portions of the 2014 Gay Games also occurred. Akron is known for the rubber, tire, and airship industries among others, including the trucking, stoneware, sewer pipe, fishing tackle, farming equipment, mining, match, zipper, and toy industries. With a population increase of 201.8% during the 1910s, it became the country's fastest-growing city. Three major civil unrest events took place during the riot of 1900, rubber strike of 1936, and the Wooster Avenue riots of 1968. Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois (1920) and President Bill Clinton (1997) gave speeches on race relations in the city. While visiting during August 1914, Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). In 1971, James R. Williams founded Alpha Phi Alpha Homes Inc. to build the Channelwood Village area of Akron. In 2008, 91-year-old resident Addie Polk became the poster child of the financial crisis of 2007–2010 after shooting herself moments before law enforcement were going to remove her from the foreclosed house. During a 2016 march on West Market Street, purple heart Vietnam War veteran Kenn Gilchrist set himself on fire in protest of Donald Trump's presidential election victory.
Notable criminal history includes mobster Rosario Borgio headquartering the area's black hand operations, and Pretty Boy Floyd's Walker-Mitchell mob's activities. Though Akron was part of the Underground Railroad while active, the city was also part of the country's largest local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan having many city officials as members which Wendell Willkie successfully opposed before becoming the 1940 Republican nominee for President. It also saw abolitionist John Brown as a resident with his house now as a landmark. The county has been nicknamed the "Meth Capital of Ohio", ranking third in the nation for number of registered meth sites, mainly due to Akron.
In 1811, Paul Williams settled near the corner of what is now Buchtel Avenue and Broadway and suggested to surveyor of the Connecticut Land Company's 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 part of the Downtown, Akron neighborhood now is; Irish laborers working on the Ohio Canal built approximately 100 cabins nearby in autumn.
Because of Eliakim Crosby's founding of "North Akron" (Cascade) in the Northern portion of what is now Downtown Akron in the year 1833, "South" was added to Akron's name up until about 3 years later when the two were 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 give birth to 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 who 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. Also in 1847 the Akron Public Schools was founded, and also the very first school was built which is now a museum located on Broadway Street near the Corner of Exchange in what would have been original Akron prior to the 1836 merger.
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 afterward. 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, a local journalist began the modern 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. Other popular inventions include rubber balloons; ducks; dolls; balls, Baby Buggy Bumpers, and Little Brown Jugs. 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.
The Riot of 1900 resulted in city officials being assaulted, two deaths, and Columbia Hall and the Downtown Fire station (now the City Building since 1925) 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 schoolgirls took part in the successful Akron Experiment, testing iodized salt to prevent goiter in what was known as the "Goiter Belt". 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.
Rubber companies responded to housing crunches by building affordable housing for workers. Goodyear's president, F.A. 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 1929 and 1931 Goodyear's subsidiary Goodyear-Zeppelin Company manufactured two airships for the United States Navy, the USS Akron ZR-4 and the USS Macon ZR-5. Goodyear built a number of blimps for the Navy during WWII and later 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 industries experienced major decline. By the early 1990s, Goodyear was the last major tire manufacturer based in Akron.
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 in the city itself. Research is focused at the University of Akron which is home to the Goodyear Polymer Center and the National Polymer Innovation Center, and the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Because of its contributions to the Information Age, Newsweek's listed Akron fifth 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 third time. Some events of the 2014 Gay Games used the city as a venue. In 2013, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company opened its new global headquarters on Innovation Way, further cementing the company's relationship with the city.
The city also continues to deal with the effects of air and soil pollution from its industrial past. In the southwestern part of the city, soil was contaminated and noxious PCB-laden fumes were put into the air by an electrical transformer deconstruction operation that existed from the 1930s to the 1960s. Cleanup of the site, designated as a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency, began in 1987 and concluded in 2000. The area remains restricted with regular reviews of the site and its underground aquifer.
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 in the southwest. 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 in the United States that produces methane through the decomposition process of sludge to create electricity. According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 62.37 square miles (161.5 km2), of which 62.03 square miles (160.7 km2) (or 99.45%) is land and 0.34 square miles (0.88 km2) (or 0.55%) is water.
Akron has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), typical of the Midwest, with four distinct seasons, and lies in USDA hardiness zone 6b, degrading to zone 6a in the outlying suburbs. Winters are cold and dry but typically bring a mix of rain, sleet, and snow with occasional heavy snowfall and icing. January is the coldest month with an average mean temperature of 26.1 °F (−3.3 °C), with temperatures on average dropping to or below 0 °F (−18 °C) on 3.8 days and staying at or below freezing on 41 days per year. Snowfall averages 47.5 inches (121 cm) per season, significantly less than the snowbelt areas closer to Lake Erie. The snowiest month on record was 37.5 inches (95 cm) in January 1978, while winter snowfall amounts have ranged from 82.0 in (208 cm) in 1977–78 to 18.2 in (46 cm) in 1949–50. Springs generally see a transition to fewer weather systems that produce heavier rainfall. Summers are typically very warm and humid with temperatures at or above 90 °F (32 °C) on 8.0 days per year on average; the annual count has been as high as 36 days in 1931, while the most recent year to not reach that mark is 2004. July is the warmest month with an average mean temperature of 72.0 °F (22 °C). Autumn is relatively dry with many clear warm days and cool nights.
The all-time record high temperature in Akron of 104 °F (40 °C) was established on August 6, 1918, and the all-time record low temperature of −25 °F (−32 °C) was set on January 19, 1994. The first and last freezes of the season on average fall on October 18 and April 26, respectively, allowing a growing season of 174 days. The normal annual mean temperature is 49.8 °F (9.9 °C). Normal yearly precipitation based on the 30-year average from 1981–2010 is 39.62 inches (1,006 mm), falling on an average 158 days. Monthly precipitation has ranged from 12.55 in (319 mm) in July 2003 to 0.20 in (5.1 mm) in September 1960, while for annual precipitation the historical range is 65.70 in (1,669 mm) in 1990 to 23.79 in (604 mm) in 1963.
As a result of multiple towns merging, and industry boom, Akron's architecture is diverse.
Originally a canal town, the city is divided into two parts by the Ohio and Erie Canal, with downtown being centered on it. Along the locks, the city has a path paved with rubber.
Akron was awarded with the City Livability Award in 2008 for its efforts to co-purpose new school buildings as community learning centers. In 2009, the National Arbor Day Foundation designated Akron as a Tree City USA for the 14th time.
Many of the city's government and civic buildings, including City Hall, and the Summit County Courthouse, but the Akron-Summit County Public Library, and John S. Knight Center are considerably newer. The library opened in 1969 but reopened as a greatly expanded facility in 2004. The Knight Center opened in 1994.
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.
The city is home to a historic 1920s atmospheric movie palace, the Akron Civic Theatre. One of the building's features is a starry sky with clouds that drift over it when the lights are dimmed.
Completed in 1931, Akron's tallest building, the Huntington Tower, features the art deco style and is covered in glazed architectural terra-cotta. Standing 330 feet (100 m), it is built on top of the Hamilton Building, completed in 1900 in the neo-gothic style. 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. The top of the building has a television broadcast tower, formerly used by WAKR-TV (now WVPX-TV) and WAKR-AM. The antenna reaches 134.7 metres (442 ft).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 dormitory and shopping center called Quaker Square.
The Akron Art Museum commissioned Coop Himmelblau to design an expansion in 2007. The new building connects to the old building and is divided into three parts known as the "Crystal", "Gallery Box", and the "Roof Cloud".
The contrasting neighborhoods of Goodyear Heights and Firestone Park were built during the rubber industry to house workers and their families.
Akron consists of 21 neighborhoods, with an additional three that are unincorporated but recognized within the city. The neighborhoods of the city differ in design largely because of 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 and Spicer streets, near the University of Akron. West Hill is roughly bounded by West Market Street on the north, West Exchange Street on the south, Downtown on the East, and Rhodes Avenue on the west. It features many stately older homes, particularly in the recently recognized Oakdale Historic District.
Akron's suburbs include Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Green, Mogadore, Montrose, Munroe Falls, Norton, Wadsworth, Silver Lake, Stow and Tallmadge, . Akron formed Joint Economic Development Districts with Springfield, Coventry, Copley, and Bath (in conjunction with Fairlawn) townships.
Akron is home to E. J. Thomas Hall, one 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 2,955, 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 Theatre, which opened in 1929 as the Loew's Theater. This atmospheric-style theater was designed by John Eberson and contains many Moorish features including arches and decorative tiles. It features elaborate wood carvings, alabaster statuary, and European antiques. The theater seats 5,000. Behind it on the canal is the Lock 3 Park amphitheater, which annually host the First Night in Akron. The Akron Art Museum also downtown, features art produced since 1850 along with national and international exhibitions. It opened in 1922 as the Akron Art Institute located in the basement of the Akron 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 while still under construction.
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 Park, the 104 acres (0.42 km2) F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm features a visitor 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. The city is home to several other galleries and museums include American Marble and Toy Museum and the Don Drumm Studios & Gallery.
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. 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. 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. The Akron Armory is used as a venue for a female wrestling team in ...All the Marbles (1981). 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. 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 portrayals in media, from "Hell on Earth" in the television series I'm In Hell (2007), to the whereabouts of a holy woman in The Virgin of Akron, Ohio (2007). Henry Spivey of My Own Worst Enemy (2008), travels to Akron through the series many times. George Costanza in an episode of Seinfeld (1989), flies to the city. M.Y.O.B. (2008) is centered on an Akron runaway girl named Riley Veatch. Jake Foley of Jake 2.0 (2003), Pickles family of the Rugrats (1991), and J.Reid of In Too Deep (1999) are also from the city. Akron was also in the spotlight on the television show Criminal Minds "Compromising Positions" (2010) Season 6, Episode 4. The 2015 film Room is based in Akron. The film Harvey (1950) references Akron multiple times.
In Needful Things, a novel by Stephen King, the character of Leland Gaunt is from Akron. Also, in the musical comedy Glee, Vocal Adrenaline, the New Directions rivals, are from the fictional Carmel High School in Akron. In the dystopian novel Unwind (and its sequels), by Neal Shusterman, one of the main characters, Connor Lassiter, is dubbed the "Akron AWOL" after the city becomes the scene of his notorious escape from the Juvey-cops. An antique store in Akron also plays a key part in the Unwind series.
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. The city is also the setting for the novel The Coast of Akron, by former editor of Esquire, Adrienne Miller. To reflect Akron's decline during the 1980s, Akron native Chrissie Hynde wrote the Pretenders song "My City Was Gone". The Black Keys album title Rubber Factory refers to the former Goodrich Corporation rubber factory in which it was recorded. 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.
There are numerous attractions and points of interest in the Akron area. The Akron Art Museum has been operating since 1922 and is currently located downtown, showcasing over 20,000 square feet of art produced since 1850. Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens is the estate of F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The manor hosts various attractions and public events throughout the year. In the heart of downtown, the Akron Civic Theatre has provided the community with a venue for entertainment and live performances for over eighty years. Lock 3, a historic Ohio and Erie Canalway landmark, has been transformed into an entertainment amphitheater that hosts festivals, concerts, and community events throughout the year. The Akron Zoo is located just outside downtown, and was an initial gift of property from the city's founding family. 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.
National events hosted annually in Akron cover a wide variety of hobbies and interests. The PGA World Golf Championships travel to Akron each year for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. The All-American Soap Box Derby is a youth racing program which has its World Championship finals at Derby Downs. In mid July, the National Hamburger Festival consists of different vendors serving original recipe hamburgers and has a Miss Hamburger contest. Lock 3 Park annually hosts the First Night Akron celebration on New Year's Eve. The park also annually hosts the Italian Festival and the "Rib, White & Blue" food festival in July. Founders Day is celebrated annually because of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous within the city.
Several residents of Akron have played a role in defining American cuisine. Ferdinand Schumacher created the first American oatmeal and is a pioneer of breakfast cereal. He also founded the Empire Barley Mill and German Mills American Oatmeal Company, which would later merge several times with other companies, with the result being the Quaker Oats Company. The Menches Brothers, are the disputed inventors of the waffle ice cream cone, caramel corn, and hamburger. The beer, BORIS The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout, brewed by the Hoppin' Frog Brewing 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 Notable eateries in Akron are Luigi's Pizzeria (established in 1949) and The Diamond Grille. Other places include Crave, Bricco, Cilantro, Diamond Deli, Urban Eats, Mary Coyle Ice Cream, Swenson's, Ken Stewart's, Tangier, Louie's, Duffy's, New Era, Strickland's Frozen Custard, and Hamburger Station. The rivalry between Swenson's and Skyway, aired on Iron Chef Michael Symon's Food Feuds, which Swenson's won.
Although Akron is in northern Ohio, where the Inland North dialect is expected, its settlement history puts it in the North Midland dialect area. Some localisms that have developed include devilstrip, which refers to the grass strip between a sidewalk and street.
The RubberDucks have won the Eastern League Championship five times, the last being in 2016.
Nearly growing 87% that year, the Akron Road Runner Marathon has consecutively gained participants since beginning. 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. 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. 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. 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. In November, the city hosts the annual Home Run for the Homeless 4-mile run.
As home to the University of Akron, the city is also home to the Akron Zips, who compete in the NCAA and the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in a variety of sports at the Division I level. 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 National Mascot of the Year contest in 2007.
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), the Akron Summit Assault USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, 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. The historic Rubber Bowl was the home of the 1920 National Football League Championship winners, the Akron Professionals.
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 and 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 parking deck of the M. O'Neil Co. department store 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. 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. Akron residents can enjoy various ice skating activities year round at the historic Akron Ice House.
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 toward the connection of Cleveland and East Liverpool with a hike and bike trail. 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. The Portage Hike and Bike Trail, when fully complete, will connect with the hike and bike trails in the county.
Akron is served in print by the daily Akron Beacon Journal, formerly the flagship newspaper of the Knight Newspapers chain; the weekly "The Akron Reporter"; and the weekly West Side Leader newspapers and the monthly magazine Akron Life. The Buchtelite newspaper is published by the University of Akron.
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 U.S. However, WAOH-CD, 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.
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 (Silent), WKSU 89.7 (National Public Radio and Classical music, 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).
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 Information Age. 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 GOJO, Advanced Elastomer Systems, Myers Industries, Acme Fresh Market and Sterling Jewelers. Goodyear, America's biggest tire manufacturer and the fifth-largest private employer in Summit County, recently built a new world headquarters in the city. The project, Akron Riverwalk, will feature a large retail and commercial development area. The project began in 2007, but was put on hold because of the financial crisis of 2007–2010, and is now continuing. Bridgestone built a new technical center with state-of-the-art R&D labs, and relocated its product development operations to the new facility in early 2012. The Eastern Ohio Division of KeyBank, which has six branches in the city, built a regional headquarters downtown. 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.
Northeast Ohio's Polymer Valley is 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 the polymer manufacturing center of the country, because of the educational, mineral, and transportation resources of the area. During the 1980s and 1990s, an influx of new polymer companies came to the region. In 2001, more than 400 companies manufactured polymer-based materials in the region. Many University of Akron scientists became world-renowned for their research done at the Goodyear Polymer Center. The first College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering was begun by the university. In 2010, the National Polymer Innovation Center opened on campus.
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 the former Saint Thomas Hospital to the north of its northern boundaries. Since its start in 2006, the corridor added the headquarters of companies such as Akron Polymer Systems.
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 the former 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. Summa is recognized as having one of the best orthopaedics programs in the nation with a ranking of 28th. Akron General Health in affiliation with the Cleveland Clinic operates Akron General Medical Center, which in 2009, was recognized as one of "America's Best Hospitals" by U.S. News & World Report. Akron Children's Hospital is an independent entity that specializes in pediatric care and burn care. 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. Akron City and Akron General hospitals are designated Level I Trauma Centers.
According to the City's 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the principal employers in the city are:
The mayor of Akron is elected in a citywide vote. In 2016, the city elected its 62nd mayor. The 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 cabinet 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. The city adopted a new charter of the commissioner manager type in 1920, but reverted to its old form in 1924.
The current mayor is Dan Horrigan. Longtime Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic announced on May 8, 2015 that he was resigning as Mayor of the City of Akron after 28 years as mayor, and his retirement from politics after 41 years of service to the City of Akron, effective on May 31, 2015. On May 31, 2015, Garry Moneypenny, former Chief Deputy and Assistant Sheriff of the Summit County Sheriff's Department, former Springfield Township Police Department Chief of Police, and former Akron City Council President, was sworn in as the new mayor at East High School.
On Friday, June 5, less than a week after he took office, Mayor Moneypenny announced he was not running for a full term because of inappropriate contact with a city employee. On Monday, June 8, 2015, Mayor Moneypenny announced he would be resigning effective midnight on Wednesday, June 10. Council president Jeff Fusco assumed the duties of Mayor on June 11, 2015. Mayor Fusco ran for and was elected to an at-large council seat, rather than seeking a full term as mayor. Mayor Fusco also announced he would be temporarily stepping down as Chair of the Summit County Democratic Party, because the city charter calls for the Mayor to devote his full attention to the city.
As of Wednesday, July 1, three Democrats and one Republican were running for Mayor of Akron. The Democratic candidates were Summit County Clerk of Courts and former ward 4 Councilman Dan Horrigan; at-large Councilman Mike Williams; and Summit County Councilman Frank Communale. The winner of the September 8 Democratic primary was Dan Horrigan and he faced attorney Eddie Sipplin in the general election. Sipplin, an African-American criminal defense attorney, was the only Republican candidate to run. On Tuesday November 3, 2015, Dan Horrigan was elected as the 62nd mayor of the city of Akron. He officially took office on January 1, 2016.
The current members of City Council are:
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) and the (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. 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. At some point 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. 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. Du Bois (1920) and President Bill Clinton (1997). 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.
According to census data from 2010–2014, the median income for a household in the city was $34,139. The per capita income for the city was $17,596. About 26.7% of persons were in poverty.
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.
As of the census of 2010, there were 199,110 people, 83,712 households, and 47,084 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,209.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,239.3/km2). There were 96,288 housing units at an average density of 1,552.3 per square mile (599.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 62.2% White, 31.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 0.8% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.1% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 61.2% of the population, down from 81.0% in 1970.
There were 83,712 households, of which 28.8% had children under age 18 living with them, 31.3% were married couples living together, 19.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.8% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.98.
The median age in the city was 35.7 years. 22.9% of residents were under age 18; 12.4% were between 18 and 24; 25.9% were from 25 to 44; 25.9% were from 45 to 64; and 12.6% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.
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.
The city is home to the University of Akron, which the Princeton Review listed among the Best in the Midwest, in 2008. Originally Buchtel College, the school is home of the Goodyear Polymer Center and the National Polymer Innovation Center. All Akron Public Schools are currently going through a 15-year, $800 million rebuilding process. In recent times the city's schools have been moved from "Academic Watch" to "Continuous Improvement" by the Ohio Department of Education. 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.
The primary terminal that airline passengers traveling to or from Akron use is the Akron-Canton Regional Airport, serving nearly 2 million passengers a year. The Akron-Canton Airport is a commercial Class C airport located in the city of Green, roughly 10 mi (16 km) southeast of Akron operated jointly by Stark and Summit counties. It serves as an alternative for travelers 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. It is home of the Lockheed Martin Airdock, where the Goodyear airships, dirigibles, and 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 is a train station at 27 Ridge Street along the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Because of the city's large rubber industry, Akron was once serviced by a variety of railroads who competed for the city's freight and passenger business. The largest of these railroads were the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Erie Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Smaller regional railroads included the Akron Canton and Youngstown Railroad, Northern Ohio Railway, and the Akron Barberton Belt Railroad. Today the city is only serviced by CSX Corporation which has a de facto monopoly on all rail freight transport to and from the city. There is currently no passenger rail transportation.
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. Metro RTA operates out of the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center on South Broadway Street. This facility, which opened in 2009, also houses inter-city bus transportation available through Greyhound Lines.
Akron is served by two major interstate highways that bisect the city. Unlike other cities, the bisection does not occur in the Central Business District, nor do the interstates serve downtown; rather, the Akron Innerbelt and to a lesser extent Ohio State Route 8 serve these functions.
In 1999, Akron ranked as the 94th most dangerous city and the 229th safest, on the 7th Morgan Quitno list. Preliminary Ohio crime statistics show aggravated assaults increased by 45% during 2007. Akron became the first city in the United States to train and equip officers with the CornerShot, to aid them in fighting crime. 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 and the Walker-Mitchell mob, of which Pretty Boy Floyd was a member. Akron has experienced several riots in its history including, the Riot of 1900 and the Wooster Avenue Riots of 1968.
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. During the 1990s, motorcycle gang the Hells Angels sold the drug from bars frequented by members. Between January 2004 and August 2009, the city had significantly more registered sites than any other city in the state. Authorities believe a disruption of a major Mexican meth operation attributed to the increase of it being made locally. 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. The Akron Police Department coordinates with the Summit County Drug Unit and the Drug Enforcement Administration, forming the Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory Response Team.
Akron has produced and been home to a number of notable individuals in varying fields. Its natives and residents are called "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. Wendell Willkie, the Republican nominee for president in 1940, worked in Akron as a lawyer for Firestone. Pioneering televangelist Rex Humbard rose to prominence in Akron. Beacon Journal publisher John S. Knight ran the national Knight Newspapers chain from Akron. Broadcaster Hugh Downs was born in Akron. In the mid- to late 1940s, pioneering rock 'n' roll DJ Alan Freed was musical director at Akron's WAKR. Watergate figure John Dean was born in Akron.
Noted athletes to have come from Akron include National Basketball Association MVPs LeBron James and Stephen Curry, Basketball Hall of Famers Gus "Honeycomb" Johnson and Nate "The Great" Thurmond, Major League Baseball player Thurman Munson, International Boxing Hall of Famer Gorilla Jones, Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus, former Northwestern University and Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian, and Butch Reynolds, former world record holder in the 400 meter dash. James Harrison of the New England Patriots was also born in Akron, as was current Tennessee Titans head coach, Mike Vrabel.
Performing artists to come from Akron include bands such as Ruby and the Romantics, Devo, The Black Keys, The Waitresses, and 1964 the Tribute; singers Vaughn Monroe, Chrissie Hynde, James Ingram, Joseph Arthur, Jani Lane, Rachel Sweet and outlaw country singer David Allan Coe; and actors Frank Dicopoulos, David McLean, Melina Kanakaredes, Elizabeth Franz, William Boyett, Lola Albright and Jesse White. Clark Gable and John Lithgow lived in Akron.
Poet Rita Dove was born and grew up in Akron. She went on to become the first African-American United States Poet Laureate. Many of her poems are about or take place in Akron, foremost among them Thomas and Beulah, which earned her the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
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 U.S. female astronaut in space, Judith Resnik, died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and has the Resnik Moon crater named in her honor.
Carol Folt, the 11th chancellor and 29th chief executive, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was born in Akron in 1951. She was previously provost (chief academic officer) and interim president of Dartmouth College. She assumed her duties on July 1, 2013, and is the first woman to lead UNC.
The philosopher and logician Willard van Orman Quine was born and grew up in Akron.
Akron, as of 2015, has two sister cities:
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