Cover image for Wheels of fortune : the story of rubber in Akron
Wheels of fortune : the story of rubber in Akron
Love, Steve, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Akron, Ohio : University of Akron Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 359 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD9161.U53 A385 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Wheels of Fortune is the story of the rise and fall and transformation of the rubber industry in Akron, a book rich in anecdotes and photographs. This is history told by people who lived it, on the factory floors and in executive offices, their voices ringing through a narrative that has all the heroes and villains and epic sweep of a Steinbeck novel. For more than a century after Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich came to town, in 1870, Akron, Ohio was the rubber capital of the world. The city prospered along with the tire factories, becoming a model for Middle America's industrial success. Its people worked in the rubber shops and lived in neighborhoods fostered by companies like Goodyear and Firestone. Even the air they breathed was heavy with the odors of rubber. But by the 1980s, most of the rubber industry had gone south, first the plants and then the company headquarters, a result of stubbornness in the union ranks, intransigence in the corporate boardrooms, and takeovers by foreign competitors. Akron began an awkward metamorphosis from a stronghold of blue-collar labor to a research and development center, finding its new identity in the broader fields of polymer science and technology.

Author Notes

David Giffels is a staff writer for the Akron Beacon Journal. A native of Akron, Giffels completed B.A.s in English and Mass Media and an M.A. in English from The University of Akron.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Its tire-manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and the familiar names of companies formerly headquartered there now belong to foreign owners. But Akron, Ohio, continues to be known as "the rubber capital of the world." Although its "Big Four" tire companies have been profiled individually, no thorough story of Akron and its once vital and thriving tire and rubber industry has ever been told before. This history of Akron's people and its commerce, which was originally published in Akron's Beacon Journal as a weekly series beginning in spring 1996 and running for a year, is spiritedly told with affection by two of the newspaper's staff writers. Love and Giffels recount a tale of struggle, survival, and loss, showing how the impact of the Depression, World War II, and the decline of manufacturing was magnified in this one-industry town. Their story is also one of rebirth as the University of Akron has become a growing center for polymer research. Richly illustrated with photographs from the newspaper archives. --David Rouse