During the Great Depression, under the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, the Works Progress Administration was created by the federal government to put people back to work building infrastructure in hopes of stimulating the economy. Many examples of those projects still exist throughout the U.S., and one of the grandest examples is preserved in the heart of downtown Akron, Ohio.
The “Glendale Steps” were constructed as a WPA project during a time when Akron, which was especially hard-hit among American cities, was trying to rebound from massive layoffs in the rubber industry as auto sales plunged during the 1930s. The 242 sandstone steps cover a 200-foot slope between South Walnut Street above and Glendale Avenue below, acting as a connector between two neighborhoods in Akron.
Sadly, for many years, the stairway was covered with vegetation, graffiti, and trash, until local Akronites banded together to clear out the area. They cleaned the steps and brought them back into the public eye. They now stand as a monument to the stone craftsmen who hand-laid the magnificent stairway during that difficult era. These days, you can walk the steps and marvel at the craftsmanship put into their construction, and get a great view of downtown Akron in the process.
Know Before You Go
The best way to access the steps is to park down on Glendale Avenue and walk up towards South Walnut Street above. There is limited parking at the top along South Walnut as well. Just be sure to respect the people living on that street when you go.