: Portrait of Benjamin Franklin Goodrich, who established the first rubber company west of the Allegheny Mountains in Akron, Ohio, in 1870.
Goodrich (1841-1888) helped make Akron, Ohio, the "Rubber Capital of the World" during the late 1800s. Before becoming involved in the rubber industry, Goodrich attended Cleveland Medical College (modern-day Case Western Reserve School of Medicine) where he specialized in surgery. Following the Civil War, Goodrich left medicine and became involved in other pursuits, including working in some of Pennsylvania's oilfields and, in 1867, opening a real estate office in New York City. He became involved in the rubber industry in 1869, soon becoming the largest stockholder in the Hudson River Rubber Company in New York. Goodrich faced stiff competition from numerous other rubber producers and decided to move his business to Akron, where local residents had collected $13,600 to encourage Goodrich to relocate. At this time, no other rubber manufacturers existed west of the Appalachian Mountains, and Goodrich hoped to dominate the rubber industry in the Midwest and Far West. He opened his Akron plant, the Akron Rubber Works, in March 1871, employing twenty workers. The plant made numerous items but focused on fire hoses that would not burst under pressure. The company, which became known as the B.F. Goodrich Company, grew slowly during the 1870s, nearly going bankrupt twice, but the business gained momentum during the 1880s and 1890s. In 1888, an Irish veterinarian invented the pneumatic (air-filled) tire out of rubber. It became very popular among bicyclists, providing the rider with a much smoother ride. With the invention of the automobile, demands for tires skyrocketed. The first tires were solid rubber, but the B.F. Goodrich Company quickly developed a pneumatic tire suitable for cars. By 1892, four years after B.F. Goodrich's death, the company employed four hundred workers and sold more than 1.4 million dollars worth of products. View on Ohio Memory.
: AL04241 Subjects
: Rubber industry and trade--Ohio; Ohio Economy--Science and Technology Places
: Akron (Ohio); Summit County (Ohio)