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Summit Lake

The grand opening of Summit Lake’s new Nature Center today marks the culmination of years of work by community groups and city officials. A recent question to our “OH Really?” team asked about the lake’s history as a recreation hub. And specifically, about Summit Beach Amusement Park, which closed in 1958. Finding someone who remembers Summit Beach Amusement Park isn’t easy. The first parks on the site opened in the late 1880s, including one operated by the Menches Brothers, inventors of the “Hamburg sandwich.” By 1917, Summit Beach Amusement Park opened. Dave Lieberth, the Akron historian, vaguely remembers going there once, as a child. But he’s done a great deal of research about the park.

“It is best defined in superlatives. They called it Akron’s ‘Million Dollar Playground’ when a million dollars meant something, in the 1920s. It was the highest-grossing amusement park in eastern Ohio. When they built the Crystal Pool at Summit Lake, it was the biggest tile pool in the world: 75 feet by 180 feet. They called their Wisteria Ballroom the world’s largest dance floor, which could handle 5,000 people.”

The ballroom and music were big draws, attracting well-known acts like Grandpa Jones or Sally Rand, the burlesque dancer. Bed Bug Exterminator Akron

“More than a century ago, it was used as a pump building to pump water to Akron industry,” Summit Metroparks communications specialist Lindsay Smith explained. The natural lake was made by glaciers thousands of years ago and was used as a highway by indigenous peoples. Its waters filled the Ohio and Erie Canals, and later it became the source to feed Akron’s industrial powerhouses. It was home to amusement parks from the turn of the 20th century until the late 1950s, when industrial pollution all but killed the lake. But Mother Nature is one tough cookie. The waters are clean and nature is exploding all around the water. The new Summit Lake Nature Center will pump much-needed energy into this Akron, Ohio neighborhood, something Smith says has been a long time coming. “It’s a community that’s been made a lot of promises [that have] not always been delivered, so we were proud to work jointly with them and get their feedback on what they wanted to see.”

Restaurants and Pubs

  • Spaghetti Warehouse is located at 510 S Main St bldg 33, Akron, OH
  • Twisted Tomato Pizzeria & Beer Wall is located at 325 S Main St, Akron, OH
  • Mid-East Café and Restaurant is located at 306 E Exchange St, Akron, OH
  • Manny’s Pub is located at 394 Brown St, Akron, OH


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