Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Went Back to Ohio

As I noted on Friday, Akron is Chrissie Hynde's home town. She wrote about the place in her 1982 song, "My City is Gone."
I went back to Ohio,
but my city was gone.
There was no train station.
There was no downtown.
I had not been to Akron since before the song was written. The downtown looks like it is recovering somewhat since then, though it features only a fraction of the office buildings Wilmington has.
I counted four office towers in Akron that looked like they were built between the 1950s and the early 1970s. Wilmington has built several times that number since the early 1980s. Akron's population of 210,000 is nearly three times larger than Wilmington's, and spread over 62 square miles, compared to Wilmington's 11 square miles. Akron's population continues to shrink while Wilmington's began to rebound in the 1980s.
Chrissie Hynde really did go back to Ohio. Last year she opened a vegan-Italian fusion restaurant called The Vegiterranean, located on the northern edge of downtown in a loft district. I did not get a chance to try the place. I've been staying in a hotel in an edge city location just off one of the highways ringing the city. The road to the hotel is lined with chain restaurants, two of which were shuttered.
Akron boomed early in the 20th century to provide rubber tires for the growing auto industry. Various spin-off companies sprung up to develop rubber products. A great uncle of mine started such a company in his attic (the house didn't have a garage). But Akron hasn't developed new industries as the rubber business declined, the way Wilmington has with financial services.

2 Comments:

Anonymous kavips said...

Sounds like Akron is doing better than Dayton.

I was shocked two summers ago. They depression has to be experienced to be appreciated....

The tiny ray of hope, is they are surviving a bout which on a local scale, is equivalent to The Great Depression on a national scale...

So, i guess we can too...

The best way I know to describe it, is to imagine the Tower Hill section of Wilmington, looking like no one as updated their houses, including paint, for 20 years.... Yards overgrown for lack of mowers, trees hanging long, old cars lining the streets, held together by duct tape....

We have a lot to look forward to..

1:44 PM, July 14, 2008  
Blogger Tyler Nixon said...

I spent the better part of a week in Akron in July 2001 attending an international airship conference.

[Akron was the home of the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, and still contains one of two massive "airdocks" built to house the two giant rigid airships constructed n Akron for the U.S. Navy in the early '30's - (christened the "Akron" and "Macon".]

It was funny to hear the Brit airship venturers call it "Ak-ron" whereas we pronounce it more like "Ak-rin".

It was a bit of a ghost town, at least back then (kind of like downtown Wilmington at night, but without the crime). But it was very clean, had some great old buildings, and I felt had huge potential. I would be curious to see what has come of it over the last 7 years.

8:41 AM, July 16, 2008  

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