Akron – The Rubber Capital of the World

Akron, Ohio is a small city with a big history. It was founded in 1825 near the Erie Canal and, with its “twin city” of Canton, became an important American Midwest manufacturing center that continues to thrive to this day. In fact, Akron is known as “The Rubber Capital of the World”. Long before the invention of the automobile, B.F. Goodrich started the first rubber company there in 1869. General Tire was later founded in 1915 with the rise of the automobile industry, and then the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company became America ‘s top tire manufacturer, giving the city a very important place on the country’s map. Once the boom of heavy manufacturing declined in the 1970s and ’80s, the city redefined itself as a center for financial, high tech and research sectors.

But, it’s also a city of many firsts, some respectable, some notorious. Sojourner Truth delivered her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech in 1851 at Akron ‘s Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. In 1885 two of the city’s brothers, Frank and Charles Menches, invented the hamburger at the New York State Fair and would also later go on to create the ice cream cone. In 1920, the first meeting was held there to form the American Pro Football League. One of the first organized crime operations was established in the Midwest when Rosario Borgio, an Italian-American mobster came to there in the early 20th century. Bill Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron in 1935, where the first meetings took place.

Akron is also known as the City of Invention. Other “first” fun facts: the first automobile tires made in the U.S., the first balloon tire, first synthetic rubber tire, and first rubber wound golf ball all came from Akron, Ohio. The first zeppelin built in the U.S. was there, which also had the first U.S. toy company, the first automobile police patrol wagon, first U.S. space suits and first trans-active science museum, the National Inventors Hall of Fame. This city had the first long distance electric railway in the world; the first National League Football champions (the mighty Akron Professionals of 1920). The first high volume boxes of breakfast cereal (Quaker Oats) were manufactured there as was the first artificial fish bait.

Given first place in the City Livability Award competition by the United States Conference of Mayors in 1999, it is also a three-time All-America City winner and a world-renowned center of polymer research and development. It’s the home of the Soap Box Derby World Championships, the NEC Invitational golf tournament and Stan Hywet Hall, one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival Architecture in America. The world’s largest model train display is at the Depot, at Akron ‘s Quaker Square (former site of the Quaker Oats Co.)