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For as long as most people can remember, the A-K-R-O-N name has been spelled out in big concrete letters on the hill beside the Rubber Bowl. State Rep. John Otterman, who grew up in Ellet, remembers the sign as a favorite place for kids to bike and enjoy a sack lunch overlooking the airport terrace in the ‘60s.
Local historians aren’t really sure when or why our hometown version of the Hollywood sign (which went up in 1923, by the way) was created.
Turns out the A-K-R-O-N letters were there before the Rubber Bowl was constructed, as the 1938 picture (top right) shows. Excavation work for our town’s 37,000-seat amphitheater was done by the Civil Works Administration, as part of FDR’s New Deal program. Dirt taken from the site was used to fill in some swampy areas at the airport.
We suspected the sign was put there by Bain Ecarius “Shorty” Fulton who started the airport on his Massillon Road farm and by 1929, became the Akron Municipal Airport’s first manager.
This Beacon Journal editorial chiding Fulton to spruce up the sign offers a clue. While it doesn’t pinpoint the sign’s beginnings, it does show that by April 27, 1938, the weathered sign already needed a paint job.
Brighten Up, Shorty
Shorty Fulton, manager of the Municipal airport, ought to detail a squad of his workers to the task of giving a coat of white paint to the name of Akron that is traced in gigantic outline of conglomerate stone on the east slope of the airport, just north of Derby Downs. When this legend was constructed several years ago, it stood out clear and attractive, visible for long distances from the air and from the remotest reaches of the airport. It will perform this service again if it receives the attention of earnest caretakers who know how to handle a paintbrush.
The A-K-R-O-N sign got an extreme makeover in 1995. That year it was demolished and rebuilt, just 10 feet south of its original location as part of an ongoing project to raise and repave the
runway and taxiways at the current Akron-Fulton International Airport.