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 Did You Know?

  • That Summit County was among the first counties in the Western Reserve to build towns and start the wheels of progress?

  • That Ohio's great public school plan had its birth in Akron?

  • That the Cuyahoga River, between. Akron and Cleveland, was once a part of the western boundary of the 'United States?

  • That Dr. Eliakim Crosby, one of the pioneer builders of Summit County, once had plans for a great manufacturing city on North Hill? To get power for his project, he built a dam across the Cuyahoga River, at Cuyahoga Falls, and a canal to carry water down through the gorge valley and around to the bluffs overlooking the Little Cuyahoga valley. Ruins of that canal are yet to be seen from High Level Bridge.

  • That the oldest, yet traveled, road in Ohio is Portage Trail, extending from the Cuyahoga to the Tuscarawas River? Over it tramped the buffalo, and over it the Indians carried their canoes.

  • That High Level Bridge, connecting Akron with Cuyahoga Falls, was once the highest concrete bridge in the world?

  • That Abraham Lincoln once visited Summit County? That was when he was on his way from Illinois to Washington to be inaugurated President of the United States. His train stopped at Hudson, where, from the rear of his car, he spoke to hundreds of people from all over the county.

  • That it was on March 17, 1856 that the world's greatest sleigh ride ended at Akron? In that historic winter parade were 182 four and six horse teams, and scores of smaller turn-outs.

  • That one of the first horseless vehicles in Ohio was made in Akron? It appeared on the streets in 1890, and was operated by steam, with coal as fuel. It was the forerunner of the present automobile.

  • That Akron was the first city in the world to build a. gigantic electric light mast for lighting purposes? People back on the farms were told they would no longer have any use for lanterns.

  • That the world's first long distance electric street railway was built here? It extended from Akron to Cleveland, and was built in 1895.

  • That the first brass band in northern Ohio was organized in Cuyahoga Falls and often went. to Cleveland by canal boat to help Cleveland celebrate?

  • That Akron built the first electric police patrol wagon in 1899 ?

  • That the first coal ever used on Lake Erie steamers came from coal mines in Tallmadge Township and was shipped from Cuyahoga Falls to Cleveland on canal boats?

  • That it was while he was living in Hudson that John Brown conceived the idea and made plans for freeing the slaves of the south? His mother is buried in the old Hudson cemetery, close to the graves of Deacon David Hudson, founder of Hudson, and his family.

  • That the picturesque and historic old Congregational Church at Tallmadge was built largely by men who fought in the Revolutionary War and were friends of George Washington? It is the oldest house of worship in Ohio in which services are yet being held.

  • That Summit County has the greatest organization, of its kind, in the world? It is the child of memories. It recognizes all religious creeds. The poorest man or woman is the equal of the richest. That organization is the Fifty Year Club.

  • That the first newspaper in Summit County was the "Ohio Review"? It was published at Cuyahoga Falls by Horace Canfield in 1833.

  • That the first newspaper in Akron was "The Buzzard," published in 1838 by S. A. Lane?

  • That the first automobile show in Akron was held in 1907?

  • That the town pump was the principal meeting place when Akron was getting started down around Exchange and Main Streets?

High Spots in Akron's History

  • First settler in Akron was Major Miner Spicer, who came from Connecticut and built a log cabin in 1811.

  • First fraternal organization here was started by the Masons in Middlebury (now East Akron) in 1815.

  • General Simon Perkins founded the town of Akron in 1825.

  • First canal completed in 1827. First passenger boat out of Akron to Cleveland July 3, 1827.

  • First church organization in Akron was First Presbyterian Church, started in Middlebury (now East Akron) in 1831.

  • First flour mill was known as "Old Stone Mill" and completed in 1833.

  • First charter election held on second Tuesday of June, 1836. First Mayor was Seth Irede11, a Quaker.

  • First boat arrived here from Pennsylvania on the second canal, August 6, 1840.

  • First news of the creation of Summit County came from Columbus by stagecoach in 1840.

  • First water company was organized in 1840, by people living on West Market Street. Was a private enterprise, water being piped from a spring.

  • Akron's first band was known as "Akron Brass Band," organized in 1840 by Henry S. Abbey.

  • First President of the United States to visit Akron was John Quincy Adams. Arrived here in 1843 on a canal boat and helped dedicate first Court House.

  • First bank in Akron was known as "Bank of Akron," a branch of the Ohio Safety Fund System, and was started in 1845.

  • First matches here were made in 1845 in a shed in Middlebury by George Barber, father of 0. C. Barber, who became the world's "Match King."

  • In 1846, Akron's Public School plan was born and adopted throughout the state.

  • First telegraph line in Akron was in 1847. All messages were in shape of "dots and dashes."

  • First County Fair held on old Court House grounds in 1850.

  • First railroad train to arrive in Akron was on July 4, 1852. The road extended from Hudson to Akron, and is yet in operation.

  • First High School in Akron was "Old Jennings," opened in 1853.

  • First musical organization here, outside of the early brass bands, was the Liedertafel, organized in 1853 by 13 German singers.

  • Greatest sleigh ride in history was held here in March of 1856.

  • All church bells in Akron tolled on December 2, 1859, when John Brown was being hanged for his attack on Harper's Ferry.

  • Ferdinand Schumacher, who became the world's "Oat Meal King," made his first oatmeal here in 1860 and peddled it around in a push cart.

  • In 1864, Lewis Miller started the Buckeye Mower and Reaper Works, once Akron's greatest industry. The following year, J. F. Seiberling started the Empire Mower and Reaper Works.

  • Early Akron's historic rolling mill was built. in 1866.

  • Dr. B. F. Goodrich came here in 1870 and built the first rubber plant.

  • On July 4, 1871, Horace Greeley, famous New York editor, laid cornerstone of Buchtel College.

  • In 1872, Middlebury was annexed to Akron and became the Sixth Ward.

  • First balloon flight in Akron was on Old Hall Fair Grounds in 1873. The balloonist was John Johnson, Northampton Town-
    ! ship farmer.

  • In 1875, the late Paul E. Werner started the once great Werner Printing and Lithographing Plant. For years, it was the largest printing establishment in the country.

  • General Lucius V. Bierce, Akron's first historian, was buried here in 1876.

  • First typewriter in Akron was used by Nathan A. Means in the office of the Buckeye Mower and Reaper Works in 1876.

  • First telephone line in Akron extended from residence of Dr. B. F. Goodrich, on Water Street, out to his little rubber plant, in 1877.

  • First free mail delivery here came in 1879.

  • First attempt to regulate traffic in Akron came in 1880, when council passed an ordinance limiting the speed of horse-drawn street cars to four miles an hour.

  • In 1886, fire destroyed nearly all of Ferdinand Schumacher's great cereal mill.

  • The year 1888 marked the coming of electric street cars and the passing of horse and mule-drawn cars.

  • In 1889, Michael O'Neil and Isaac Dyas, progressive young merchants, pioneered the way for mercantile life into Main Street.

  • First horseless vehicle was built and operated by Achille Philion in 1890. Was operated by steam and went four miles an hour. It was the forerunner of the automobile.

  • It was in 1897 that Akron's famous playhouse, The Academy of Music, burned.

  • In 1898, Frank A. Seiberling was the guiding spirit in building the Goodyear Rubber Plant.

  • The night of December 20, 1899, all of Akron witnessed the burning of Buchtel College.

  • First electric police patrol wagon was made here in 1899 by Frank Loomis.

  • The great Firestone Rubber Plants got their start in 1900.

  • Akron City Hospital, first in the city, was dedicated in 1904.

  • First wireless message received in Akron came from Cleveland in 1905.

  • Ground was broken in 1905 for the present Court House.

  • First radio outfit was brought to Akron by Jack J. Gritton in 1912. First Broadcasting Station was WOE in 1921.

  • Greatest flood in Akron's history was in the spring of 1913. It meant the death of the canal.

  • During the first World War, and continuing two years after the Armistice in 1918, Akron was the busiest and fastest growing city in the world.

  • On October 12, 1922, Akron celebrated the opening of Main Street Viaduct.

  • In 1925, Akron celebrated her centennial anniversary.

  • Akron's greatest thrill came on September 23, 1931, when the U. S. S. Akron "Queen of the Skies" made her maiden trip.

  • First Post Office in Akron was located in a dwelling house, corner of Water and Exchange, following building of Ohio canal. First Postmaster was Woolsey Wells.

  • First society in Akron for fighting fires was known as "Akron Fire Company" in the early forties. Had 25 charter members.

  • There's old. And then there's old. Much of Main Street went up between 1910 and 1930. But the red-brick Kaiser Building (325 S. Main) predates that building boom by half a century. The ornate Victorian Gothic structure was built in 1871 as a hardware store, just six years after the Civil War ended.

  • For a decade, the entrance to the Akron Civic Theatre (182 S. Main) was the gateway to nowhere. It was built for the Hippodrome, a theater that never happened. Construction ended at the double doors to the grand lobby when the owners ran out of money.

But Marcus Loew saw opportunity in the growing city and came to finish the job. His Akron Loews opened in 1929, just as talkies were overtaking their silent counterparts. Reportedly, the building design was altered during construction, giving Akron the first movie house in America built with sound equipment originally installed. Loews became the Civic in 1965.

  • Thousands visit Akron each year to celebrate the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, and many of them swing by Mayflower Manor (263 S. Main). The subsidized apartment building was a fashionable hotel in 1935 when a New York businessman named Bill Wilson stood in its lobby, fighting the temptation to drink. He grabbed a pay phone and started a chain of phone calls that led to a meeting with Akron physician Bob Smith. The two men, better known as Bill W. and Dr. Bob, formed A.A.

Other famous guests of the Mayflower: Shirley Temple, Katharine Hepburn, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and Ronald Reagan.

  • The Evans Building (333-337 S. Main) has been home to a succession of financial institutions since 1915. But the property is most important for what's no longer here. It was the site of Henry Clark's Tavern, where the election of Akron's first mayor, Seth Iredell, occurred on June 14, 1836. Look for the commemorative plaque facing Exchange Street.



Fifty Year Club. "Did You Know." Summit County Looks Back: Through 100 Years

Schleis, Paula. "South Main downtown is home to architecture, stories of past."
     Akron Beacon Journal 6 Aug. 2005.


Graphics, stories, articles and other partial content are all Copyright ©2006-2011 Jeri Holland and other respective authors.