Ravenna, OH- Historic Satellite Suburb of Akron, OH

This evaluation includes just the pre WWII urban fabric of Ravenna. That is more or less the entire with of the Town between the north and south railroad tracks.

Ravenna was founded in 1799 and is named after Ravenna, Italy. Ravenna grew pretty quickly in the 1800s reaching almost 2K residents by the Civic War. Historically it was know for producing some of the highest quality hearses in the Country, hired to escort Presidents McKinley and Garfield to their final resting place. Rail service arrived in Ravena via the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad in 1851. In 1877, the Quaker Oats Company was established in Ravenna with the familiar Quaker Oats logo patented in in the City. The City reached 4K residents in 1900. Thanks to this decent sized population in the 1800s Ravenna hosts an Italianate styled heavy Commercial District. The City’s population continued to modestly climb in the 1900s reaching 7K in 1920 and 8.5K in 1940. Population peaked at 12K in 1990 and has since slowly declined to 11,300 souls. Ravenna is also well know for its Balloon Festival that occurs around mid- September.

Ravenna is a mixed-bag when it comes to quality urbanism. There is a good compact Downtown core along Main St and a couple blocks off, but the quality of Main Street quickly becomes auto centric outside the Dwtn core. Quality historic residential is also pretty limited and population density is very low. Ravenna does have solid retail and cultural amenities and a decent # of good walkable schools. The City, however, lacks quality public transit, bike amenities, housing diversity (esp. rentals), and is a very homogenous White community. 

Click here to view my Ravenna Album on Flickr


* Decent grided and connected streets. Better in the core of Dwtn.
* Great economic diversity and decent generational diversity.
* Good # of schools and generally pretty well rated. High Schools is located a bit outside of Town and really isn’t very walkable.
* Some dedicated affordable housing in Ravenna.
* Good tree canopy.
* Lovely historic commercial bldgs. Residential is a bit uninspiring.
* Good urban massing in the Dwtn core but falls a part outside of the core along OH-59.
* Good cultural amenities including solid # and variety of food & beverage bizs, a major cineplex, a local dance and music school, a small conference center, and a couple local museums.
* Solid retail amenities including several supermarkets & drug stores, a couple dollar stores, lots of banks, plenty of boutiques, lots of gift shops, a couple antique stores, a toy store, a local hardware store, plenty of dessert shops, a couple gyms, a local library & post office, several churches, and a local hospital and lots of doctor’s offices sits just north of the Dwtn area. 


* Very low density for an urban area.
* So so sidewalk and ADA curb cuts.
* Pretty poor public transit.
* Some bus service to dwtn Akron but pretty  limited. Only a 20 min drive.
* Some nice regional recreational bike paths on the edges of Dwtn but nothing penetrates its.
* Poor racial diversity as this is over 90% White.
* For sale housing is pretty limited to affordable and moderately priced hsg. 2-beds sell btwn 50K-200K, 3 & 4 Beds btwn 85K-300K.
* Rentals are pretty limited but affordable.
* Limited modern infill and what does exist is very auto centric.

Cuyahoga Falls, OH- Historic Akron Suburb with Impressive Valley & Waterfalls

This evaluation includes Downtown Cuyahoga Falls and the historic Westside mostly developed before WW II. The boundaries I choose more or less match this framework but I admit it’s a bit imperfect. I used State for the Western border, the Cuyahoga River for the southern and Easter Border (route 8 is used as the eastern border north of Dwtn), and Silver Lake Ave as the northern border.

In 1812, Kelsey and Wilcox built a dam on the Cuyahoga River at a place where a railroad bridge crossed it in 1876. The town was incorporated in 1836. By the Civil War Cuyahoga Falls had 1,500 residents. It reached 3K in 1900, 10K in 1920, 30K by 1950, and peaked at 50K in 1970. In 1985, a referendum adding Northampton Township to the City, which helped negate a steep population loss in the 1970s. The City actually had modest population increase between 2010-2020 and now hosts 51K souls.

Downtown Cuyahoga Falls has seen a lot of investment centered along Front St and near Cuyahoga Falls. This has brought several new apartment buildings and townhouses, lots of restaurants, bars, and cafe and good cultural amenities. Unfortunately many of the Downtown side streets are auto oriented. Outside of Downtown are mostly medium density single family homes from the early 20th century. The closer one is to Dwtn the better the walkability. The secondary commercial district along State St is very auto oriented. Cuyahoga Falls scores well in my evaluation as it is very diverse but also does well with typically suburban amenities (i.e. quality schools, parks and high levels of safety). I don’t anticipate this happening anytime soon but it would be great to see a lot more urban in-fill Downtown and a conversion of State St into a more pedestrian friendly commercial corridor. Cuyahoga Falls also need better public transit and bike infrastructure.

Click here to view my Cuyahoga Falls Album on Flickr


* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is best Dwtn and pretty good in the residential areas.
* Convenient access to Dwtn Akron across all modes. A 10 minute drive and 30 min bus and bike ride.
* Good connectivity and street grid.
* Cuyahoga Falls does well across all diversity indicators.
* Decent # and diversity of schools and overall they are well rated.
* A decent # of rentals are available and generally very affordable. Few 1-beds lease btwn $700-$900, 2-beds btwn $800-the low 1KS, 3-beds in the mid 1Ks.
* Better for sale housing diversity. Some 1-bed condos selling btwn 100K-200K, 2-beds sell btwn 125K-300K, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 125K-325K.
* Good park and recreational amenities including the Metro Parks along the Cuyahoga River, a couple plazas dwtn, several small-medium sized parks spread throughout at the large Recreation Center Dwtn.
* Good tree canopy throughout.
* Good cultural amenities concentrated Dwtn but also some along State Street. Lots of Food & Bev business Dwtn and along State Street. A decent # of breweries, art galleries, live music venues and local museums concentrated Dwtn. Also a cinema in the NW corner of this evaluation area.
* Pretty good retail amenities include a couple supermarkets along State St, several drug stores, plenty of banks, lots of boutiques/gift shops/creative stores Dwtn, a dwtn public library & post office, and a good # dessert joints, gyms, salons, churches spread throughout the neighborhood.
* Generally a very safe community.
* Nice historic homes and good # of historic Dwtn bldgs still intact.


* Public transit is fair to mediocre in Cuyahoga Falls.
* Bike infrastructure is very limited here.
* Pretty good urban form along several blocks of Front Street Dwtn, but this becomes auto centric pretty quickly especially along other Dwtn Streets. State Street is very auto oriented although still has sidewalks
* Some urban in-fill dwtn. Form is generally good but often tacky design. State street has a lot of auto centric crud.
* Pretty low density for an urban area.

Kent, OH- hosts a quality historic downtown as state university near Akron

Difficult to decipher exactly what to include in this Kent evaluation as the pre-WWII fabric extents pretty far and inconsistently outside of the downtown center. I included all of Kent University and used a mixture of block groups and historic fabric to set the boundaries of this evaluation.

Kent was originally founded as part of the Connecticut Western Reserve and settled in 1805. It attracted settles due to its location along the Cuyahoga River which spurred water-power mills and eventually the Ohio canal. By the time Kent State was founded in 1910 the City already had a population of 4,500. Kent State was built on the eastern edge of the City and doesn’t fully integrate with the historic town. While there are several quality historic buildings, most of Kent State is unattractive 1950s-1970s  buildings. Major redevelopment initiatives came to Downtown Kent in 2008 with a $110 Million dollar mixed-use development across several blocks.

Like most college towns, Kent has a good array of main street retail and cultural amenities. Park and recreational space are extensive along the Cuyahoga River adjacent to Downtown. Areas that Kent could improve from an urban perspective include a  downtown supermarket and target, more consistent ADA infrastructure, and a better sense of place at Kent State University. There is also a fair amount of blight in the historic residential portions of the City. 
Click here to view the Kent album on my Flickr Page


* Convenient access to lots of University jobs at Kent.
* Pretty good local transit access in the downtown core and university areas of Kent.
* Good bike access on Kent State’s campus and along the Cuyahoga River. No dedicated bike shares.
* Pretty good economic diversity.
* Crime rate is very low but still some blight in the residentials portion of Kent.
* Great tree canopy throughout most of Kent.
* Park and recreation highlights include the extensive and diversity park space surrounding the Cuyahoga River and quads at Kent State along with an attractive plaza space at Acorn Alley.
* Quality cultural amenities include many restaurants, bars & cafes, several live music venues & art gallery spaces, a couple local breweries, some local museums (Kent State University Museum and Kent Historic Society) and the performing arts hosted at Kent State University.
* Nice retail amenities as well including many boutiques and local businesses, local bookstores, a couple drug stores, several banks, along with a post office and library.
* Several good elementary schools within the historic core. The public middle and high school is just north of the historic core.
* Kent did a nice job rebuilding its downtown with quality urban in-fill. 


* Decent driving access to Dwtn Akron (25 minutes) and Dwtn Cleveland (45) but limited public transit connections.
* Limited racial and generational diversity.
* Local grocery store located in a strip mall just south of the historic core of Kent.
* Sidewalk infrastructure generally good but modern ADA infrastructure inconsistent.
* Most of Kent State University is ugly 60s & 70s towers. While there is attractive green space and quads, likes of parking lots spread throughout campus diminishing its sense of place.
* Historic housing is ok. Some nice historic commercial buildings in Downtown Kent. 

Hudson, OH great historic town and childhood home of abolitionist John Brown

My evaluation of Hudson is very nuanced guided by the walkable pre-WW II fabric of the town. This included Western Reserve Academy to the north, the new urbanist shopping center built around  First and Main Green to the west, Ravenna St to the south, and Oviatt St. to the east.

There is a lot of great history o this town. Hudson is named after its founder, David Hudson, who settled there from Connecticut in 1799, when it was part of the Connecticut Western Reserve. Western Reserve College and Preparatory School was founded in 1826 and but now exists as only a private high school (the college moved to Cleveland and is now Case Western Reserve).  John Brown grew up in Hudson in a very anti slavery town and congregation in the early 1800s creating the seeds of his more radical actions. Historically Hudson was a always a small town. In 1870 there were 868 residents and 1940 1,400. Suburbanization, however, lead to an explosion of residents and the town now has over 20K souls.

Hudson is one of the wealthiest enclaves in the Akron metro likely drawn by its quality schools, history, and historic main street. Several attractive historic residential streets also surround Main Street with homes from every decade of the 19th century. In 2004 an attractive new urbanist retail development (1st & main) was built as a nice extension of Main Street, 
Click here to view my Hudson album on my Flickr page


* Great historic architecture spanning many decades before WWII in the main street, residential streets, and Western Reserve Academy. Quality urban in-fill with a nice new-urbanist district west of the historic main street.
* Pretty easy drive to Downtown Akron (only 20 minutes). 45 minute drive to Dwtn Cleveland.
* Very high family households around 85%.
* Great tree canopy and street tree coverage on the main street.
* Grand public square park amenities, a nice trail park extending SE from dwtn, and some quality green spaces at Western Reserve Academy.
* Good cultural amenities including lots of bars, restaurants & cafes, several art galleries, a performing arts theater, and several historic homes.
* Lots of walkable retail including a nice array of boutiques, clothing stores, a supermarket, bookstore, post office, and library. Several other strip malls just west of the walkable core as well.
* Very low crime rates in Hudson. Some years there are no violent crimes. 
* Several well rated public schools located on the eastern edge of Hudson Dwtn. Western Reserve Academy located on the north edge was well.
* Quality sidewalk and ADA infrastructure. Up to date ADA curb ramps are common near Western Reserve, main street and the new urbanism shopping center, but limited in the historic residential areas. 


* Poor public transit access. Although there is some commuter buses to downtown Akron.
* Limited Bike infrastructure.
* Very high household medium income around $125K but some income diversity here. Also limited racial diversity as central Hudson is around 90% white.
* Most for-sale options are expensive ranging between 300K-1 Million. Some more modest product selling in the 200Ks.  Rental housing is limited.