By Josh Lapp, Designing Local
This past March, Designing Local had the unique opportunity to take a driving tour of Akron with retired Akron Deputy Mayor of Administration, author, historian, and someone we would definitely want on our trivia team: Dave Lieberth.
Dave, like LeBron James, is a born-and-bred Akronite. Where his basketball career didn’t take off, though, his journalistic, law and government career sure did. He worked for 35 years as a reporter and news director, receiving multiple state and national journalism awards. As a practicing lawyer in Akron for 25 years, he was frequently listed among the Best Lawyers of America. Notably, he was Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff in Akron for a decade until his retirement in 2012. He was even selected by the White House to moderate President Clinton’s first Town Meeting on Race, carried live nationally on C-Span in 1997! (LeBron only has two championships..)
Needless to say, Dave knows what he’s talking about, especially when it comes to Akron. He wrote the book on Akron. Literally – he wrote “Greater Akron: Inventive. Industrious. Inspired,” a book on the history of Akron, published in 2013. Some of the cool facts about Akron we learned on our tour include:
- John Brown, the civil war abolitionist who is notable for his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, lived in Akron and managed sheep flocks and farms before his Kansas years.
- The Quaker Oats company was started here, evolving from providing mass-produced oat bars to the Union Army.
- America’s first toy company, S. C. Dyke Co., first manufactured marbles in Akron
- The Zeppelin Company, a subsidiary of Goodyear, began manufacturing WWII airships as well as those token Goodyear Blimps, in Akron
- Firestone Tire and Rubber Company opened a factory in Akron, building a neighborhood nearby and designing one of the streets in the shape of the “F” logo (seen aerially)
….and that is not even close to the half of the list of things we learned on our tour! One thing that stands out: Akron is COOL. Like, really cool. We are looking forward to many more exciting and educational visits to Akron this year!