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Akron unveils statue honoring men and women who contributed to legacy of rubber manufacturing

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Posted at 11:21 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 11:21:46-04

AKRON, Ohio — A new statue was erected in downtown Akron to pay homage to the city’s rich history of tire manufacturing.

Crafted by Northeast Ohio artist Alan Cottrill, the 12-foot bronze statue is featured prominently in the newly redeveloped Main Street Corridor, in the center of the roundabout at the corner of Main and Mills streets.

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Early photos of the statue before it was placed in downtown Akron.

A pandemic for an artist has been a blessing of time.

“One of the unexpected benefits to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the amount of uninterrupted time I’ve been able to commit to this project,” said sculptor Alan Cottrill. “I've been able to completely focus my creative energy on this historic statue during an equally historic period in time. This statue represents all the men and women who worked in the rubber factories and who helped Akron grow and prosper. I’m looking forward to the unveiling of the final piece which will stand in tribute to them.”

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Early photos of the statue before it was placed in downtown Akron.

The statue features a rubber worker hand wrapping a tire, a fitting image in a city home to Goodyear Tire Company.

“This statue will stand as a lasting testament to the sacrifices of every worker in the tire and rubber industry in Akron,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “These men and women—who served as janitors, engineers, office staff, and laborers—became the bedrock of the Akron community, and helped our nation win two World Wars. These workers built and sustained our City for generations, and their stories and legacies live on in us. We are excited to watch this project come together and we look forward to dedicating it in a way that honors their memories.”

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City of Akron reveals rubber worker statue in downtown Akron.

Local creative group Art x Love is making sure the voices of tire workers, past and present, are heard for generations to come. The Rubber Worker Stories Project, founded by Miriam Ray, features audio and visual stories from Akron’s rubber workers and their descendants. All stories collected will be archived in the University of Akron’s Rubber Industry Archives.

Excerpts of the stories will be paired with archival footage and will be made available at an interactive kiosk located in the primary viewing area of the statue.

The group is selling commemorative bricks that have been placed in the Northeast corner of the roundabout (adjacent to the Akron-Summit County Library) along with a solid granite bench and the interactive kiosk.

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City of Akron reveals rubber worker statue in downtown Akron.

To learn about the project or buy a brick, click HERE.

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