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Reimagining the Rubber City

Posted 12/3/2021

Tires rolled out of Akron during the past century giving the city the nickname as the Rubber City. Akron’s legacy as a center of industry and commerce preceded the days of rubber with the Ohio and Erie Canal. Cyclists on the Ohio to Erie Trail pedal through the artifacts of canal days and the rubber industry.

The Ohio to Erie Trail follows the path of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail (Towpath Trail) through Akron. Akron Civic commons brought together several civic institutions in recent years to reimagine the city’s industrial and commercial past as public spaces where people gather, play, and build community. 

The reimagination of the Towpath Trail gives Ohio to Erie Trail visitors a gateway through the heart of these vibrant public spaces. 

Summit Lake

The Towpath Trail’s floating towpath floats along the eastern shore of Summit Lake. Summit Metro Parks opened the Summit Lake Nature Center earlier this year reimagining an early 1900’s amusement park building into a modern interpretive center focusing on wildlife education, urban gardening, and water-based recreation. 

A view of Summit Lake from the Nature Center

Ohio and Erie Canal Park

Ohio and Erie Canal Park is a short distance north of the I-76/I-77 underpass on the Towpath Trail. The neighborhood has been reimagined with murals, public art, and places to gather, reflect and relax. Ohio to Erie Trail visitors meander through an urban oasis of a gently rolling trail along the Ohio to Erie Canal.

Akron’s Civic Gateway 

Akron’s Civic Gateway reimagined Downtown Akron as a welcoming space for the community and visitors. Main Street saw the addition of a protected bike line, streetscaping, and numerous art installations. Murals on the northern and southern walls of the Akron Civic Theater serve as dramatic backdrops for Lock 3 and Lock 4 Park, gathering spaces for entertainment and community events.

Northside District

Vibrant murals and public art are plentiful in Akron’s Northside District. This is the city’s art district with many galleries, entertainment and dining venues. Northside Marketplace is home to a diverse collection of unique shops and dining. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Northside Station sits on the northern end of the district.