The Mustill Mill Lock 15
First Congregational Church in Tallmadge
Summit County is located in northeastern Ohio and covers 413 square miles. Summit County has the highest land along the Ohio Canal . The county is noted for its chain of natural lakes. The Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers flow through the county. The city of Akron , the county seat, was laid out in 1825 by General Simon Perkins of Warren , Ohio. Its name comes from a Greek word meaning "high". Although best known as a leading producer of rubber, the city is also an important research and development center, as well as one of the nation's leading producers of children's books and toys.
On March 3, 1840, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Summit County. It originally was a portion of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The county was named for the Portage Summit, the highest point along the Ohio and Erie Canal . The county grew very quickly, especially following the completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal . Due to its proximity to transportation systems and an abundant supply of coal, iron ore, and steel, the county seat of Akron became a major site for the production of cereal, rubber, and numerous other products during the latter portion of the nineteenth century. Because B.F. Goodrich Company, Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company were all located in Akron , the city became known as the "Rubber Capital of the World."
Summit County is overwhelmingly rural, with only fourteen percent of the county deemed to be urban. Still, only just over three hundred farms exist in the county. Most of the county is now covered with subdivisions. These areas are not populated enough to qualify as urban areas, but they are definitely not devoted to agriculture.
Akron was originally laid out in 1825 and in 1841 became the seat of Summit County. The name came from a Greek word meaning "an elevation" or "point." Originally, the community was located slightly south of its present location, in modern-day South Akron. Many of the town's earliest residents were Irish migrants employed to build the nearby Ohio and Erie Canal . After 1827, when the canal was completed between Akron and Cleveland, the community's business interests really began to prosper. Its location along the canal meant that many farmers brought their crops to Akron to be milled and then transported to other markets, and manufacturing interests such as mills, furnaces, and textiles also emerged.
By the second half of the 1800s, railroads connected the community to other important cities in Ohio, and other industries emerged. There were a number of stoneware and cereal manufacturers, as well as a well-known sewer pipe industry. The Barber Match Company, later a branch of the Diamond Match Company, produced one-fifth of all the matches in the United States. The Buckeye Mower and Reaper Company, originally located in Canton, moved to Akron in 1863. Probably among the most famous companies established in Akron were the B.F. Goodrich Company and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, both rubber and tire manufacturers that began to prosper after the advent of the automobile age. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many migrants from the Appalachian region and European immigrants came to Akron looking for work in these industries. There was also a significant African-American population going back prior to the Civil War.
In the early twentieth century, Akron continued to grow. During the 1920s, Goodyear branched out into the zeppelin industry, a predecessor to modern-day blimps. The Great Depression hit the city particularly hard, and Akron reported industrial unemployment rates of sixty percent during the 1930s. In spite of the economic problems, the population continued to grow during this decade, possibly because of New Deal programs. The 1920s and 1930s were an interesting time for Akron. During Prohibition, organized crime, illegal alcohol production, and gambling were prominent in some parts of the city, and the Ku Klux Klan had a significant following. In fact, during the 1920s Klan members held many of the important local political positions, from mayor to school board members. Akron 's economic problems from the Great Depression ended with the United States ' entry into World War II. The need for wartime mobilization meant that factories were once again at full production, and the city grew once again as workers were recruited to make aircraft and other necessary military goods.
Following World War II, Akron's residents faced some difficult financial times. The traditional industries that allowed the city to prosper during the 1800s and early 1900s began to decline. As a result of this economic downturn, Akron has experienced a declining population. In 1950, nearly 275,000 resided in Akron . Fifty years later, Akron enjoyed a population of just over 217,000 people.
Despite the smaller population, Akron produced numerous famous residents during the twentieth century. Musicians Chrissie Hynde, James Ingram, and Ruby and the Romantics came from Akron, as did actress Melina Kanakaredes and model Angie Everhart. Astronaut Judith Resnik, who died in the Challenger explosion, and Nobel Prize-winning poet Rita Dove both graduated from high schools in Akron. The National Civic League also named Akron an All-American City in 1981 and in 1995.
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