Little Big Town originated with a 2015 Medium post I wrote that outlined how our city’s landscape had changed so much over the past 150 years, and how the rapid expansion of the city—due to a series of “boom” periods—had caused it to be significantly transformed several times over.
The notion of Little Big Town also got its inspiration from Akron’s foremost historian, Dave Leiberth, who has referred to our city many times as “America’s Biggest Small Town” - as well as University of Akron professor George Knepper, who has often noted that “Akron has many accomplishments disproportionate to its size as a city.”
I would also be remiss if I did not give some credit to the creators of the great NYC history blog, The Bowery Boys, who have provided a lot of inspiration, if not the model, for how to produce and sustain an engaging and entertaining city history blog.
One of my favorite pastimes on Twitter has been digging up old images of Akron, posting them as a “PastBlast”—not only in an effort to inspire fond memories in older generations of Akronites—but also to inspire younger generations and make them understand that almost anything is possible here in our city. Rather than sending a message about “how great it used to be”, the goal is to show how creativity, hard work, smarts, and that peculiar Akron World View made our city such a special place. Today, I see many of the same skills are being put to work by a younger generation right now to shape Akron for an exciting and unpredictable future.
So many of the young people I come across see these historic images and hear these Akron stories, and the reaction is typically something along the lines of:
“What a great idea that was. Let’s do it again—but better.”
“Those people were a little bit crazy. Just like us.”
“Who would have thought you could do that here? But they did. So can we.”
“Some of those great ideas we hear about today? They were doing that in Akron 100 years ago.”
“They didn’t have much to start with. Neither do we. But look where they finished.”
While the city limits here may not stretch as far and wide as they do in America’s great metropolises, one thing people from Akron have proved again and again is that there is no limit to our imaginations—or our creativity. Perhaps somewhere in this collection—in this colorful Akron memory book—a new generation will find a spark of inspiration to create their own unique and remarkable history in this overgrown small town.
If you have any ideas or suggestions for stories, feel free to pass them along.