The Akron Ghetto Story
Akron, Ohio is a small city that is 30 minutes south of Cleveland and became famously known for being the hometown and birthplace of basketball superstar, LeBron James. The Akron ghetto story gives a short account on how the urban community of Akron began around North Street and expanded into other parts of the city.
The black history of Arkon Ohio began around North Street, as people moved to Akron for employment opportunities in the rubber factories (Goodyear and Firestone were both created in the city of Akron).
Allegedly, the community began to deteriorate over the years, making the city of Akron to label the neighborhood of North Street as an Akron ghetto or slum, which led to the building of the Elizabeth Park housing project in the 1940s.
Akron’s original projects that were built in the 1940s was Elizabeth Park, the Edgewood Homes, and Park Lane Manor. Elizabeth Park was built for the city’s black residents, Edgewood Homes was for the white families, and Park Lane Manor was a public housing complex for war veterans until the Housing Authority sold the apartments to its residents.
Beginning in the 1960s, African-Americans would start to begin to move into the Edgewood Homes, which would later change the West Akron community to becoming predominantly African-American and Akron’s largest black populated area.
From Vernon Odom to Delia, West Akron is the biggest side of the city, with the heart of the neighborhood being around Copley Road, known as the Hilltop. Other well-known areas of West Akron, is the Valley, centered around W. Thronton and West Miller / Summit Lake, an area that can be considered as Southwest Akron.
The East Akron ghetto is based around South Arlington Street, with most people living in the apartment complexes of Joy Park, Wilbeth-Arlington, and Rosemary. Other than the apartment complexes, Akron’s East Side consists of a small area in Goodyear Heights around Newton Street, Laird Street, and other neighborhoods between Interstate 77 and Kelly Street.
The North Side was once home to the old Elizabeth Park projects, which was recently rebuilt in the early 2000s into Cascade Village. Currently, the main community of the North Akron ghetto is in the North Hill section of Akron around Howard Street.
The diversity of the South Akron ghetto can be seen driving along Grant Street or in the Firestone Park neighborhood. While smaller than the other sides of the city and less known, South Akron is still located directly in the heart of the city.