We have a funky little place here called
We’re Greater Akron, the 330—a unique confluence of geography, history, hard work and luck that inspires a passion in its people. Come meet us and read some of the reasons we love Greater Akron.
“Nothing is given. Everything is earned.” is one of our favorite LeBron sayings. So, it’ll be tough but inspirational, just like the man himself.
There’s something special about this city that we call home. And we’re lucky. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to have a great experience. Grab some friends and go to the Akron Art Museum, drop by the Zoo, go catch a Zips game. The list goes on. —LeBron, in one of his regular missives to his I PROMISE kids.
We’re the hometown of yet another icon—the Goodyear blimp. Currently, the company has three high-tech, semi-rigid blimps (or dirigibles to be precise) in the air. We often see the beloved blimps (er, dirigibles) sailing the skies over Akron, headquarters of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. And the Airdock, the black, hulking blimp assembly hangar on the outskirts of town, is a landmark.
Norka Soda (or pop, as we say in Ohio) is a 1930s-era brand that’s recently been revived. Norka is, of course, Akron spelled backward. There are five flavors of retro deliciousness. Norka is sold locally at several retailers and carried in all Kroger stores across Ohio. You can also buy it online at the Norka eBay storefront.
The 20-minute rule is awesome. Everything in Greater Akron is just about 20 minutes apart. No fooling, and (usually) no traffic jams.
Robert Christgau of The Village Voice put it this way in 1978: “Something is obviously going on out there.”
Akron’s Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney formed the blues-rock band The Black Keys, about 25 years after the punk wave. Their Grammy-winning, chart-topping, soul-scratching music has been featured in big budget movies and TV shows, including The OC and Sons of Anarchy. It can also be heard in dozens of commercials for such brands as Samsung, American Express and Victoria’s Secret.
The oldest Krispy Kreme store in the nation is on South Maple Street in Akron. The 1950s-era neon sign in front says it all: “Hot Do-Nuts.”
Everyone who’s cool, or wants to be, listens to 91.3 The Summit (WAPS-FM). The adult alternative album station, part of the Akron Public Schools, plays King Tuff, Johnny Cash and Jack Johnson. It has in-studio sessions with local rising stars and runs a Rock and Recovery show every late night for sober people. It also sponsors KidJam!, an online radio station for young listeners.
Sand Run Parkway is a glorious, winding road through Sand Run Metro Park in Akron. The scenery is breathtaking, and the highlight is a ford.
Driving down Akron’s Cadillac Hill, also called Bates Street, is a rite of passage. The brick-lined roadway is a 28 percent grade; it’s so steep that you can’t see the bottom from the top.
Perched at the summit of the Cadillac Hill neighborhood stands the gabled house where Thomas Edison married the comely Mina Miller in 1886.
Akron, a rough-and-tumble town in the early 19th century, was a vital stop along the Ohio & Erie Canal. We’re still a canal town. The Ohio & Erie Canalway is a National Heritage Area. The 87-mile Towpath Trail, which follows the original canal, is a favorite hiking and biking spot that winds through downtown and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Greater Akron has 19 locks, which were used to transport boats through the canal. Parts of the original lock system are visible along the trail, and several have been repurposed.
The Mustill Store Museum on the city’s north side is a restored canal-era general store and family home on their original site at Lock 15. Lock 3 is downtown Akron’s Central Park. Lock 4 is home to the Lock Bottom Blues & Jazz Club. A park at Lock 2 is bedecked with sculptures, benches, streamers and colored lights. 13 Garrettsville in Portage County is the birthplace of the poet Hart Crane (1899-1932). His father, Clarence, invented LifeSavers candy in 1912. Thanks to both of them.
- Steph Curry, LeBron James and Larry Nance, Jr., of the NBA
- Rita Dove, writer and one-time poet laureate of the United States
- Judith Resnick (killed in the 1986 Challenger explosion)
- Tom Batiuk, creator of the Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft comics
- Actress Melina Kanakaredes (CSI)
- Tony-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell (Hamilton)
- Rock star Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)
- Musician and artist Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo)
- Indie Film Producer Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise)
- Pat Carney and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys
A gigantic boring machine has been tunneling Akron’s new sewers. Her name is Rosie, and she arrived in 2017 to bore through about 5-1/2 feet of earth per hour. She completed the mission in August 2018.
The Akron RubberDucks is our AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Canal Park in downtown Akron is the team’s home. Watching baseball’s rising stars on a warm summer night with a bellyful of burgers is a slice of heaven. Fireworks, special events and mascots all for $7 a ticket make it one of the best family bargains on the planet.
Akron is the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s where founders Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith first met in 1935 in the Gate Lodge of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens. Dr. Bob’s home is now a museum. The Gate Lodge is also open to the public.
The Greater Akron soul has a totem of sorts in the Merriman Valley. It’s an ancient burr oak used by Native Americans as a guidepost when portaging between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers. Today, we call it The Signal Tree. Catch the vibe at the Signal Tree Fest during the summer, billed as a celebration of what makes Greater Akron unique.
We’ve mentioned Lifesavers, tires and AA, but check out these other things Greater Akron has given the world:
- Dum-Dums® (Akron Candy Company)
- The Cozy Coupe® (Little Tikes)
- Purell® hand sanitizer (GoJo)
- Twinkle Polish® (Malco)
- The Frog Sandbox® (Step2)
- DayGlo Paint® (RPM)
- Rust-Oleum® (RPM)
- Wound golf balls (B.F. Goodrich)
- P.F. Flyers (B.F. Goodrich)
- Liquid Crystal Displays for watches (KSU)
- Toy marbles (S.C. Dyke)
- First space suits for U.S. astronauts (B.F. Goodrich)
- Root Candles (A.I. Root)
- Blue Tip matches (Ohio Match)
- Grade levels in schools
- Ready-to-eat breakfast cereal
- Police patrol wagons
Each spring, thousands of people converge on Hinckley in Medina County to celebrate the return of the buzzards (turkey vultures) that roost in the township’s ledges. The event includes hikes, skits, contests, crafts and general hilarity.
The Nightlight Cinema in downtown Akron shows cult, indie and foreign films. This nonprofit promotes cinema and community.
The Akron Art Library lets you check out—as in borrow—artwork by local and international artists. As a partnership between the Akron Art Museum and the Akron-Summit County Public Library, the art library engages the community with real art and artists.
Most of the nation calls the stretch of grass between sidewalk and street a tree lawn, but we call it a devil strip. No one is sure of the origin of this dialectical quirk, but it inspired an eponymous and cheeky arts and culture publication in town.
Akron Zoo is a lot like Greater Akron itself—big but not too big. It has 700 animals representing 90 species on 50 acres in west Akron. It’s expanded 200 percent in the last 15 years, but it remains comfortably navigated in a day.
“Linda,” the eerie photo-realistic painting by Chuck Close isn’t quite as recognized as the blimp, but she’s had a place of honor at the Akron Art Museum since the 1970s. The museum’s unwavering focus on contemporary art from 1850 onward has allowed it to develop one of the finest collections of its kind in the country.
The annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg is the largest gathering of twins (and other multiples) in the world. Twinsburg, in northern Summit County, was founded in 1819 by twins Moses and Aaron Wilcox.
The University of Akron’s mascot is a funny-looking kangaroo named Zippy. She’s a girl, one of only eight female mascots in the country.
Locals know to look up when visiting Akron Civic Theatre. Its ceiling is spangled with lighted stars and clouds that actually move across the sky. The 5,000-seat theater on Main Street is a stellar example of the grand movie palaces of the 1920s. Designed by John Eberson, it is one of only a handful of remaining atmospheric theaters. Eberson’s design replicates a Moorish castle and garden at night.
- Mollard Conducting Batons (Copley)
- EarthQuaker guitar pedals (Akron)
- Audio-Technica sound equipment (Stow)
- Panyard steel drums (Akron)
The University of Akron’s steel drum band was one of the first such university bands in the nation. Their latest CD, Hammer on Steel, is also the title of a documentary about the band.
The Balloon A-Fair has filled the September skies over Ravenna with colorful hot air balloons annually for 40 years. The festival celebrates one of the city’s first industries—toy balloons, which were manufactured by Oak Rubber Co.
The annual William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) draws hundreds of entries each year from medical students/poets across the country. Williams (1883-1963), a great American poet and family physician, exemplified the symbiotic relationship that can be possible between science and art. The humanities were built into the curriculum at NEOMED from its founding in 1973.
Each Christmas season, more than a hundred tubas, decorated with tinsel and lights, join to play holiday favorites. If you have a tuba—and can carry it—you’re welcome to join TubaChristmas. Tucker Jolly (yes, that’s his name) founded the event 39 years ago and later created TubaSummer.
The downtown Akron skyline includes old-fashioned grain silos. You could call them anachronistic or, ahem, anAkronistic. They were built in the 19th century by German immigrant Ferdinand Schumacher who had a crazy idea to market oats for breakfast. (Yes, Quaker Oats.) Before old Ferdinand, oats were horse feed. The silos and factory are now business offices and a University of Akron residence hall.
Greater Akron lost one of its greatest residents in 2018 when Petie the Pony died after spending 20 years visiting kids at Akron Children’s Hospital. He was the first horse in the nation to visit hospitalized patients in their rooms. Happily, miniature pony Willie Nelson is now filling Petie’s horseshoes. Willie Nelson’s home is Victory Gallop, a Bath Township-based equine program for sick and challenged kids.
Insider info: Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron is not named for the rubber tycoon who built it. Loosely translated from the Old English, Stan Hywet means “stone hewn.” That’s a reference to the quarries on which the 65-room mansion was built more than a century ago by a co-founder of Goodyear. Take a look. USA Today called it the best historic home tour in the nation.
For 25 years, the annual genre-bridging, race-uniting Gospel Meets Symphony (GMS) concert has ignited audiences and become a beloved Greater Akron tradition. It brings together two different musical worlds—the Akron Symphony Orchestra and gospel singers from predominantly black churches. It’s where the primarily black fans of gospel music and the mainly white patrons of classical concerts come together in a joyful celebration.
Kent State University’s Fashion School is consistently rated one of the best in the nation. Its campus museum has more than 40,000 pieces of apparel dating from the 18th century to today.
- Strickland’s frozen custard
- Barberton chicken (juicy, greasy, with piles of fries and “hot” rice)
- Luigi’s cheese-smothered salad
- Skyway’s SkyHi burger
- Swensons’ Galley Boy
Crafty Mart is, yes, a craft fair. But wait! Hold on. The mart is a no-toaster-cozy zone. The group hosts a bi-annual, multi-venue craft festival that showcases more than 70 of the best handcrafters around.
Do you want to have Thanksgiving dinner with Abraham Lincoln? Hale Farm & Village Township is your place. It’s the original homestead of Jonathan Hale, a Connecticut native who migrated to the Western Reserve in 1810. The open-air interpretive museum has historic structures, farm animals and early American craft and trade demonstrations.
The women of the Akron Roller Derby are built for hard hits and speed. They take on teams from around the state in flat-track competition. Home matches are at the Summit County Fairgrounds in Tallmadge.
Call us European here, but we know soccer. The University of Akron’s men’s soccer team, one-time national champions, has cultivated many of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) best players. There are 20-25 UA grads in the MLS in any given year.
Blossom also hosts numerous rock, country and indie concerts all summer sponsored by Live Nation. Pack a picnic and prepare to be wowed. This is a Greater Akron must.
The Tuesday Musical Association, founded in 1887, brings the finest classical music to Greater Akron.
- Aiden Dine is only 13, but the American Diabetes Association honored the Hudson boy for his fundraising.
- Erin Victor created the nonprofit Akron Snow Angels to provide homeless people with warm clothing, hugs and conversation.
- The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company holds an annual global week of volunteering with its employees—from Akron to Africa.
- Akron’s Cassie Schumacher rode her bike across country in 12 days to help veterans—and she’s still supporting them through her Wheels4Change.
- The Akron Community Foundation honors an exceptional community supporter each year with the Bert S. Polsky Humanitarian Award. It’s like the Oscar of Greater Akron’s do-gooders.
- Evan Delahanty’s Peaceful Fruits didn’t win investors when he appeared on Shark Tank in 2017. But the Akron snack company uses sustainable ingredients and employs the disabled, making it a winner in our book.
- Kent State University was founded with a charitable gift, the donation of the 53-acre William S. Kent family farm.
- The Akron Marathon Charitable Corp, founded by Jeannine and Steve Marks in 2003, partners with area nonprofits to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars through the annual Rubber City Race Series.
- The United Way of Summit County is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018. It began in 1918 as a community chest after World War I.
Muffins for Mammograms is a 26-year-old partnership of Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Rubber City Radio Group and Main Street Gourmet. It has raised more than $1 million to fund annual mammograms for thousands of uninsured or under insured women in Greater Akron.
More than 30 institutions of higher education are within a 50-mile radius of Greater Akron.
The Akron-Canton Airport has everything a huge airport has except hassles and headaches. American, Spirit, United and Delta airlines fly to the major hubs across the country. And the airport has the lowest fares in the region, often the state.
We’re a gateway to everywhere. Greater Akron is within 500 miles of 42 major cities. That means manageable family road trips and quick weekend getaways. Our central location allows businesses to move their products with ease and speed.
Kenmore, once strictly blue collar, is now home to seven recording studios, two guitar shops, live music venues such as The Rialto Theatre and the steel drum manufacturer Panyard Inc.
Only one in 10,000 squirrels is black—except in Portage County’s Kent where they abound. The precise population is unknown, but they’ve multiplied like crazy since 1961 when 10 of the squirrels were imported from Canada and let loose on the Kent State University campus.
Opening: Early 2019
Testa is also currently adding new units to its existing Northside Lofts development in the Northside district.
New York-based Capital Realty Group bought the former Mayflower Manor apartments with plans to spend $10 million on renovations in 2019.