Heritage of Innovation
During the Industrial Revolution, new businesses flourished when creative people and collaborative energy propelled the Northeast Ohio economy to national preeminence. The 1827 completion of the Ohio & Erie Canal had an enormous impact on the Cuyahoga River Valley. The Canal created a link not only between Akron and Cleveland, but between Northeast Ohio and the East Coast of the United States. The immense growth of the Northeast Ohio economy in the nineteenth century was due in large measure to this transportation capacity.
As railway transport became the norm in the United States, the area continued to flourish. By the turn of the twentieth century, the steel, petro-chemical, rubber and other manufacturing industries provided the Cuyahoga Valley with wealth and growth. World leaders in these industries did business from the Valley. John D. Rockefeller, father of the global petroleum economy, built his oil refinery in Cleveland’s Flats. The Grasselli Chemical Company, which provided the sulfuric acid necessary for the refineries located next door to the Standard Oil refinery and became a leader in chemical manufacturing. Akron was the rubber capital of the world, as B.F. Goodrich, Goodyear, Firestone and other major rubber companies based operations there for much of the twentieth century.