Written by Ken Burns, President at TinyCircuits.
I write this sitting in my office, located in the corner of a 100 year old former rubber factory. The pipes behind me are clanking, it’s early October and the steam heat just got turned on – there will be lots of clanking this season, as there was last year, and the year before that when we first moved in. Outside the window are the twin smokestacks emblazoned with Goodrich down the sides, one with a hint of smoke coming out now that the furnace is lit.
In their heyday, these smokestacks and the furnace below supplied steam and electricity to a complex larger than an entire city – a group of 90 buildings that had 75 acres of floor space with over 15,000 workers. This was the headquarters of BF Goodrich – and the site of the largest rubber factory in the world. And sites this massive were the norm for Akron – across town to the east is the headquarters and factories of Goodyear Tire, less than a mile south was Firestone, and General Tire slightly to the north. Akron was the fastest growing city in the US during the teens and 20’s – it was the rubber capital of the world.
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Originally published October 6, 2014.