The history of Akron goes back many years, but the city itself came to be in 1825. Settler Paul Williams came to the area in 1811 and suggested founding a town along the Ohio and Erie Canal. Plans for the city were laid out in 1825. At the time, the city was named South Akron because a North Akron already existed. However, the settlements merged and were incorporated as a village in 1836.
In 1841, Akron was designated as the county seat of Summit County, replacing Cuyahoga Falls. The canal was opened shortly after, which led to the sewer pipe, fishing tackle, farming equipment and stoneware industries. Akron began to grow, both in terms of the city boundaries and the population. One of the most notable things about the city’s early history was that the law began here which launched the K-12 public school system that is still in use today. The public school system was created in 1847, and Akron Public Schools opened the same year. Years later, in 1870, Buchtel College was founded. This later became the University of Akron.
In 1865, Akron was incorporated as a city. Around this time, many churches were being built and the city continued to expand. The Akron Toy Company was founded here and was the site of many inventions, including dolls, balls and clay marbles. By the end of the 19th century, the Bedford and Cleveland Railroad was up and running.
In the 20th century, Akron earned the name “Rubber Capital of the World”it was the site of four tire companies: Firestone, General Time, Goodyear and Goodrich. These major tire companies provided many jobs to Akronites and were even named “Crossroads of the Deaf” because of the number of deaf employees that worked within these factories. To keep up with the population, rubber companies built affordable housing for their employees.
From 1910 to 1920, Akron was the fastest-growing city in the United States. A large number of immigrants from all over the world chose to live in this city. During this time, the tire companies continued to prosper, with Goodyear’s subsidiary even manufacturing airships and blimps for the military. The annexation of neighboring Kenmore resulted in additional growth.
Growth continued through the 1950s and 1960s as more people were purchasing cars. However, just like many other industries, tires and rubber went into decline and only one manufacturer was left in Akron by the 1990s. In the early 2000s, the number of rubber workers was cut in half.
However, despite rubber’s decline, Akron found another opportunity with polymers. Akron is home to nearly 100 polymer factories and research centers are located throughout the city. In the early 2000s, the city was named as one of America’s top tech havens and was also nicknamed “City of Invention.” The city has won multiple awards for innovation and it is home to many large companies including GOJO, Myers Industries and Sterling Jewelers. The city has many renowned colleges and universities, research centers and attractions, including the Akron Riverwalk which is currently back in development following the financial crisis that ended in 2010.