During the late nineteenth century, Ohio emerged as the leader of rubber production in the United States. Numerous rubber companies operated in or near Akron, Ohio, making this city the "Rubber Capital of the World." Among the large-scale rubber producers to have factories in the area were the B.F. Goodrich Company, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. The advent of the bicycle and then automobiles allowed these companies to earn tremendous wealth.
In 1950, more than 130 different companies manufactured rubber in Ohio. These firms employed more than eighty-five thousand workers. This same year, Ohio firms produced more than one-third of the tires and approximately thirty percent of all other rubber products used in the United States. The corporate offices of five of the six largest tire companies in the United States were located in Akron in 1950. Other communities, including Ravenna and Ashland, also participated in the rubber industry. Factories in these two communities produced eighty percent of the world's toy balloons in 1950. A plant in Bucyrus was the world's largest hose manufacturer during this same time period.
By the late twentieth century, the rubber industry began to decline in Ohio. While several companies continued to have their corporate offices in the state, many production facilities had moved to other parts of the country-especially to the southern and western parts of the nation. Akron firms only produced a small percentage of tires in the United States, no where near the figures of the 1950s.