Release Date: May 28,2020

City of Akron Reveals Progress of Rubber Worker Statue Destined for Main Street Roundabout

Akron, Ohio, May 28, 2020 – Mayor Horrigan has released exciting new pictures of the rubber worker statue being crafted by northeast Ohio sculptor, Alan Cottrill. The 12 ft. tall bronze statue will be prominently featured on the newly redeveloped Main Street Corridor, in the center of the roundabout at the corner of Main and Mill Streets.  The statue features a rubber worker hand wrapping a tire, and is based on the image on the cover of David Giffels and Steve Love’s book “Wheels of Fortune.” 

“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.”

The first phase of the Main Street project is still on course to be completed in July 2020, and the statue itself will be fully bronzed by the end of summer. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slight delay in the delivery of the multi-tiered granite base that the rubber worker statue will sit on, but the City is tentatively planning an unveiling ceremony for early September, which will be designed to meet then-current public health guidelines regarding public gatherings.

“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.”

To complement the statue, local creative group, Art x Love is leading the Rubber Worker Stories Project. The campaign, founded by Miriam Ray, aims to collect audio/visual stories from Akron’s rubber workers and their descendants. They have recorded approximately 50 stories so far. All of the stories will be archived in the University of Akron's Rubber Industry Archives. Excerpts of the stories are being paired with archival footage and will be accessible online and at an interactive kiosk which will be installed in the primary viewing area for the statue. A few short excerpts of these oral histories are being shared today—including: the story of Kevin Robinson, who spoke about his grandfather, Otis Spurling; and the words of Lucille Esposito, who shared memories of her mother, Filomene "Mae" Riccilli.

The group is selling commemorative bricks that will be 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.  Proceeds from the bricks will fund the Stories Project, the kiosk and the archiving of this history for future generations. To date, the Rubber Worker Stories Project has sold 300 bricks, and continues to sell more.  The commemorative site has capacity to accommodate up to 1,000 engraved bricks, which can continue to be placed over time.  

Commemorative bricks are available at a price of $100, which includes engraving of up to 60 characters (3 lines, 20 characters each).  Additional sponsorship levels are available.  All brick orders received by June 14, 2020 will be installed prior to the statue unveiling.

To learn more about how you can share your story or purchase a commemorative brick, please call 330-238-8588, email contact@akronstories.com, or visit AkronStories.com.

Finally, the Akron Rubber Worker statue would not be possible without the early support of local partners including Huntington Bank, FirstEnergy, PNC, Akron Children’s Hospital, GPD Group, and the Office of Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro.