On 24 April by MS in , , ,    No comments
Back in 1921, Goodyear had already established a worldwide reputation as an innovative manufacturer, not only of tires, but of a wide range of other products—including airships. The company had been at the forefront of industrial America in other ways too; Goodyear Heights, the suburban garden neighborhood that it had created for its workers, had been a model for similar developments both in Akron and all across the country.

 So, when it came to getting those workers back-and-forth to the job, the company quickly realized that establishing a Goodyear Heights bus line was the sensible way to go. Of course, you couldn’t expect a company like Goodyear to use just any bus to serve the route, at least not for long. Soon enough, they came up with a novel way not only to move people, but also to demonstrate their technological prowess and demonstrate the performance and longevity of their most advanced pneumatic truck tires.

The company had demonstrated the tires’ heavy payload capabilities through cross-country demonstrations, and they were looking for new ways to show off the product via the heavy demands of day-in, day-out 365-days-a-year transit usage. To do this, they created a Frankenstein of a vehicle that passengers would surely never forget.

The first version was a six-wheel transport, built upon a newly-designed truck frame and driveline—topped with a Peter Witt–bodied streetcar. To gain the needed clearance for the streetcar’s relatively low wheel wells, the entire body had to be hoisted up high enough to make any of today’s 4X4 crowd proud; entry was gained through a low-slung passenger door on the curb side of the vehicle. Since the bus used a water-cooled internal combustion engine instead of electricity, a large radiator was mounted onto the front of the huge streetcar body.It didn’t take long for Goodyear’s new vehicle to get noticed. Paul Litchfield, the VP and factory manager for the company, and later to become its president, won much praise for the concept, as noted in a 1922 article in Automotive Industries:
"His conviction that the ultimate motor vehicle would be multiple-wheeled, taking the same evolution as the freight car, led to P.W. Litchfield’s working out plans for the first six-wheeled vehicles ever put into practical use in America several years ago.”
Since the six-wheel version was deemed a success, Goodyear decided to go one better in 1922, by building an eight-wheel version, with full four-wheel steering at the front. At the time, it was considered a marvel of modern engineering, though we are not so sure about how the vehicle’s looks were received by the people of Akron. Perhaps the best gauge of that is the fact that there were no successors to the eight-wheeled leviathan, and that later service routes were handled by more conventional forms of bus transport.
A line up of Goodyear delivery trucks  joins the 6-wheel version of the bus on Seiberling Field.








On 13 April by MS in , , ,    No comments
Obtaining a historic designation for the original portion of Goodyear Heights will benefit the whole neighborhood—and a listing on the National Register of Historic Places is an important step we can take to protect and preserve this area and begin the process of improvement. A critical part of this process involves you—the people who live and work in Goodyear Heights. We need your input and your support so we can demonstrate to our local and state governments that we care about the neighborhood and its future, and that we believe that it deserves to be recognized in this important way.

We understand that residents have questions, too—and we want to be open about the process, what it means for home and business owners, and how this project can have a positive impact on Goodyear Heights over the long term. We also want to hear about your overall vision for the neighborhood; we want to know how you see it today and what you would like to see in the future. We’ll explain the benefits that historic designation and a National Register listing can offer, and explain how the process works.

The benefits include:

Recognition of neighborhood’s historic significance at city, state and federal government levels

A prestigious and honorific designation that will promote housing investment, stabilize and preserve property values

No restrictions or requirements for residents in terms of home repairs, maintenance or improvement

Improves neighborhood’s ability to attract investment and funding from public and private resources, including grants for improvement projects

IN ORDER TO BUILD COMMUNITY SUPPORT, WE ARE HAVING A SERIES OF NEIGHBORHOOD MEETINGS TO EXPLAIN THE PROJECT, THE PROCESS AND HOW YOU CAN HELP.

TUESDAY, APRIL 25 – 6PM at Reservoir Park Community Room
SATURDAY MAY 6 – 10AM at Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church
MONDAY MAY 8 – 10AM at Reservoir Park Community Room
WEDNESDAY MAY 10 – 6PM at Seiberling CLC

Join us to find out more!
Questions? Contact the R.I.G.H.T. Committee – 330-784-6623 or sconnor427@gmail.com



On 09 April by Goodyear Heights in , , , , ,    No comments
One of the most common questions people ask about owning older homes has to do with the best ways to repair them or improve them. One of the things that helps maintain the historic character of Goodyear Heights is the design of the homes—many of which represent excellent examples of residential architecture 100 years ago. The more you can retain some of that original design integrity, the more you home may be worth in the long run, and the more it adds to the neighborhood. In one sense, maintaining and repairing an old house is almost akin to the pledge that doctors take--First, Do No Harm--which is to say, it's best not to rush ahead and remove or destroy a period detail that you might miss later.  Today, we’ll talk a little bit about repairs.

Maintaining that historic look? It’s not always easy. People say, “they don’t build them like that anymore” – and it’s certainly true. When most Goodyear Heights houses were built, hardwood floors, oak woodwork, French doors, fireplaces, wood windows and even slate roofs were the norm. If your house still has them, it’s best to try and repair or restore them, if possible—since brand new replacements aren’t cheap.

The same goes for a home’s exterior. If your home still sports its original stucco, brick or wooden shingle/clapboard exterior, it’s always best to make a good, solid repair than to replace or hide a problem with a newer or cheaper material, like vinyl siding.

But what if repair isn’t possible?  First of all, it’s important to know that there’s nothing that can’t be fixed the right way, if you’re determined to make it happen. There are craftsmen who still know how to correctly point brick, repair stucco and cedar shingle siding, fix a plaster wall or refinish old woodwork. It may cost a little more, but your house will retain more of its value and the chances are, those repairs—if done right—will look better and last far longer than a quick fix or a cheap substitute.

If you can’t find a match for an original material, or you simply don’t have the budget to repair something the way you’d like, you can still help protect your investment by making smart choices. Here’s a few ideas:

Siding – Replacing old, rotted clapboards is still preferable to re-siding with aluminum or vinyl. Correctly prepared, and using today’s better paints, sections of that old siding can still be fixed and remain easier to maintain. A better alternative than vinyl are wood-like substitutes like Hardie-board, or cement-board, which match wood in appearance but don’t rot. Even some of today’s better vinyl siding is improved over cheap varieties—many types are designed to mimic older styles of wooden siding.

Roofs – A lot of houses in the Heights had slate roofs, the cost of which is beyond the reach of most people today. If you can replace some slates, great. If not, many modern substitutes are available that have a similar look to the original.

Windows – windows can be a real issue. The original windows in these houses will always look better than any modern replacement, but it’s also true that they were mostly single-pane, true divided-light windows that really don’t meet today’s standards in terms of energy efficiency. If you’re lucky, you may have some original storm windows—but few people like the idea of taking them off and storing them every summer. There are also new types of storm windows that are designed to fit on the inside of the house—and they are much thinner and lighter, too. If replacements are a must, seek ones that look as close to the original as possible, with true divided-lights (or at least removable window grilles) rather than full plates of sheet glass.

Exterior Details – porch railings, doors and trim: The modern-style railings you see on a new home’s rear deck won’t look right on an old house. Exterior trim—like soffits, verge boards on gables and window surrounds, should be repaired to look as much like the original as possible. Maintain the scale and appearance, and remember it’s OK to use modern, no-rot materials like Azek PVC for these repairs, too. That will cut down on future maintenance. If you must replace an original door, you can almost always find a new one that will match it. The good news is—most of the detailing found on Goodyear Heights houses is attractive but fairly simple in design—so there’s no need for fancy Victorian “gingerbread” trim.

Those are just a few tips that can help in your decision-making. As time goes on, we’ll provide more in-depth information and resources that can help you improve and maintain your home in a way that preserves its value and historic character. We’ll get into some other issues, like modern updates, additions and even garages—in the future.



On 01 April by MS in , , , ,    No comments


Most people who walk down Vaniman Street or Preston Avenue don’t give a thought to where they got their names. But those names loom large, not only in the history of Goodyear, but in the early history of flight.

Back when Goodyear was just getting started, Frank Seiberling wasn’t planning to be limited to the tire business. Goodyear was at the forefront of many advanced technologies, and was fully staffed with some of America’s brightest engineers. These were the same men that built the neighborhood’s streets, planned for its water and sewer utilities, and ensured that Warren Manning’s innovative design became a reality. The company’s expertise in rubber made the construction of balloon and blimp envelopes a natural, and Seiberling’s enthusiasm for flight was the impetus needed to make sure Goodyear became a world leader in lighter-than-air flight.

So it was that when Melvin Vaniman, a noted aerial photographer who had taken up piloting airships, needed a new airship to make a second attempt at an Atlantic crossing, Goodyear manufactured the craft’s giant rubber gas bag. Vaniman—who never actually lived in Akron—had attempted a crossing in 1910, but was forced to ditch in the ocean due to an engine failure. Thankfully, he and his feline co-pilot “Kiddo” survived.

For his second attempt, Vaniman was happy to name the airship Akron at Frank Seiberling’s request, and in 1912 he set off from the Jersey shore near Atlantic City, this time, without his furry friend. Sadly, Vaniman would fail once again, but the second attempt cost he and his four crewmen their lives. Filled with over 11,000 cubic meters of hydrogen, the airship burst into flames and exploded — plunging the ship’s gondola over 750 meters to an inlet. Soon thereafter, Vaniman’s brave exploits would be immortalized by having one of the neighborhood’s streets named after him.

Just as Vaniman was attempting his first transatlantic flight, Goodyear engineer P.W. Litchfield was attending an airship meet in Paris, and on his way back to the US, bought new equipment in Scotland for spreading rubber on fabric and brought two Scotsmen back home with him to operate it. Soon, Goodyear was developing advanced balloon and airship designs, and the company was eager to test them out.

Preston and Upson commemorated on a card celebrating their balloon race victory
Onto this scene entered the two Ralphs—R.H. Upson and R.A. Preston—both talented and fearless engineers who worked in Goodyear’s Aeronautical Division. Confident enough to fly the same balloons and airships that came off their drawing boards, they quickly led the company into a leadership position, winning the International Gordon-Bennett Balloon Race in 1913 as well as many competitions across America.

Success breeds success, and in 1917 Goodyear became involved in the effort to build an all- new airship for the U.S. Navy, designated the B-Class. The contract was large enough that four other firms—including B.F. Goodrich and U.S. Rubber Co. (Later Uniroyal)—teamed up to get the job done. With its immense experience in lighter-than-air craft, Goodyear led the project, and engineers Preston and Upson played major roles in designing a brand new generation of advanced airships.

The two men were among the company’s most notable and respected employees. As there was already an Upson Street in the northern part of Middlebury, Preston was honored with having a street named after him in the new Goodyear Heights development. Ralph Upson soon made his home on the Heights, having his own house built on Shawnee Path using a company-approved design.

Just as young boys of the early 1960’s loved to follow space heroes named Shepard, Glenn and Grissom—boys of the early 1900’s closely followed the daring exploits of airship pioneers like Vaniman, Upson and Preston, which were highlighted in newspapers around the world. It’s nice to know they’ll always be remembered in Goodyear Heights.