The Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium of Akron, Ohio

Rubber Bowl Stadium of Akron, Ohio hosted crowds of cheering football fans and concert goers for nearly seven decades. Made obsolete by the newly built InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field in 2009, the Rubber Bowl now sits empty and rapidly decaying from age and vandalism.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

A short distance from the site of Rolling Acres Dead Mall, Rubber Bowl Stadium is another of Akron, Ohio's infamous abandoned places. Situated on a large swath of land shared with Akron Fulton International Airport and Derby Downs, the beloved home of the All American Soap Box Derby, the stadium awaits its inevitable demise.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

The Rubber Bowl is in very bad condition. The deserted structures along its perimeter are crumbling, their floors covered by rubble from collapsing ceilings.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

Most of the stadium seating has been removed.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

Much of it lies in heaps along the bottom of the spectator area.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

The dark passageways beneath the stadium are choked with twisted metal benches and other detritus.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

The Rubber Bowl was built in 1940 as the home field of the University of Akron's football team, the Akron Zips. It was named in honor of the tire industry, which was so prominent at the time that Akron was considered the Rubber Capital of the World.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

The stadium was built by the Works Progress Administration, a federal program that provided hope and opportunity during the Great Depression by creating jobs and livable wages for 8.5 million people.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

The Akron Zips played a total of 324 games at Rubber Bowl stadium, the first of which occurred on October 5, 1940. Several professional football games and about 1,500 high school football games were also played there.

The original grass field was replaced by Astroturf in 1983. In 2003, the turf was upgraded to AstroPlay, which is still in relatively good condition.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

With a seating capacity of 35,202, the stadium served as a venue for concerts, circuses and other events. Over the years quite a few legendary musical acts performed at the Rubber Bowl, including The Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Three Dog Night, Tom Petty, Aretha Franklin, and Ringo Starr.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

November 13, 2008 marked the Zips' final game at the Rubber Bowl. Facing off against the Buffalo Bulls, the game was televised on ESPN and went into an incredible four overtimes. Sadly, the Zips lost in what was the team's first overtime loss and their first four-overtime game in school history.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

With the completion of InfoCision Stadium–Summa Field in 2009, the Rubber Bowl's time came to an end. The new stadium is located on the University of Akron campus, which means that students no longer have to travel half a dozen miles to the Rubber Bowl to attend games and practices.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

In 2013, Team1 Marketing Group purchased the Rubber Bowl with plans to make it the home of a United States Football League team called the Akron Fire. Six months later, the league decided not to include an Akron-based team.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

Team1 modified their plans, hoping to build a dome over the stadium and transform it into a multi-use entertainment venue. The first event, a hip hop festival called LOUD-Fest, was scheduled to take place in May 2015, but moved to another location after concerns were raised about the deteriorated condition of the Rubber Bowl.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

Plagued by zoning complications, financing difficulties, and a high tax burden, Team1 announced in late August 2017 that it would sign the property over to the Summit County Land Bank. The Rubber Bowl's future remains uncertain.

Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

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Abandoned Rubber Bowl Stadium in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall - A Retail Graveyard

Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio was once a gleaming modern retail space bustling with life. Few would have foreseen the desolate symbol of urban decay it would become only a few decades after it opened.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

After exploring the overgrown ruins of an abandoned greenhouse complex, I continued east to Akron, home of Rolling Acres dead mall, easily one of the most interesting places I've ever explored.

My heart raced as I crossed the sprawling parking lot marred by deep potholes and fissures toward the vast abandoned structure. The grounds were empty except for a few guys zipping around on motorcycles. Apparently the local law enforcement didn't mind them using the abandoned lot as a racetrack because they kept scrappers and vandals away.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

The ornate facades of anchor stores had fallen into severe disrepair.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Weeds crept up around the sealed entrances. 

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Created by Forest City Enterprises, a property management firm based in Cleveland, Rolling Acres Mall opened in the summer of 1975. Originally consisting of 21 stores including Sears as its anchor, the mall rapidly expanded in its early years. The number of stores more than doubled and two more anchor stores were added. An aquarium was also built, but removed not long after (Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any historic photos of the aquarium. If you have any, I would love to see them!).

1978 saw the addition of the second story Promenade as well as another anchor store...

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

and a food court.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

By the end of the decade, a three-screen movie theater was also added.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Rolling Acres was a phenomenon in its day, with a state of the art glass elevator

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

and a variety of indoor plants.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

At the time of my visit, the mall had already been decimated by water damage, graffiti and vandalism. Still it wasn't difficult to imagine how grand Rolling Acres must have been in its prime. Huge geometric skylights angled up from the roof allowing plenty of natural light to spill in.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

At the junction of its main corridors stood a large geometric sculpture and water fountain.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Over the years several of the anchor stores underwent changes. Montgomery Ward was replaced by Higbee's, which later became Dillard's. O'Neil's merged with May Company Ohio and later became Kaufmann's.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Target joined as the fifth anchor store in 1995, bringing the total number of retailers in Rolling Acres Mall to 140.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

The late '90s were a rough time for Rolling Acres. The mall developed a reputation as being unsafe and had trouble competing with the nearby Summit and Chapel Hill malls, which had recently undergone renovations and were located near more affluent areas.

Stores began to close and several of the anchors downgraded to outlet stores.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Target became the first anchor store to leave when it moved to a new location several miles away in 2006. Dillard's closed later that year.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

The mall was in such a state of decline that a 26-year-old man lived in a vacant store for several weeks before he was noticed and arrested.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Macy's closed in March of 2008 and the movie theater, which had already closed and reopened several times, shut its doors for good in August. 

In October of 2008, electricity to the mall was cut off due to unpaid energy bills and the few remaining businesses had to leave. 

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Sears and JCPenney, the last two anchor stores, were not affected and continued to operate for several years after the mall went out of business. Sears finally closed in 2011. The following year, its former space was acquired by Pinnacle Recycling.

JC Penny's 5-Star Outlet was the only retail tenant until it too closed in December 2013. The building stood vacant until 2016, when JC Penney signed it over to the City of Akron. Storage companies now occupy two of the other former anchor stores. 

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Since the mall closed in 2008, many of the skylights were smashed, letting in massive amounts of snow and rain. Structures tend to decay pretty quickly once the roof starts leaking. At the time of my visit in 2015, water damage was noticeable everywhere and in many areas the floors were still wet from the last time it rained. The layer of carpet and fallen ceiling tiles on the floor of the old cinema were so waterlogged that walking across it felt like stepping on wet sponges. 

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Rolling Acres continued to gain notoriety after it became a dead mall. In April 2011 a man attempting to steal copper wire was electrocuted when he accidentally tapped into a live wire. 

In November 2011 The body of Timothy Kern was discovered in the woods behind the mall. His death was later linked to the infamous Craigslist killer.

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

Rolling Acres was a fascinating place to explore. I was fortunate to have been granted access. After years of decay, the mall structure was demolished in early 2017, though the former anchor stores still stand. 

Abandoned Rolling Acres Dead Mall in Akron Ohio

A short distance from Rolling Acres is another of Akron's amazing abandoned places, Rubber Bowl Stadium. Click here for the full article.

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Reclaimed by Nature: Abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, OH

Ever wonder what happens to a greenhouse when it is no longer tended and the plants are left to fend for themselves? The results can be truly spectacular, as I discovered when I happened upon the wild and overgrown ruins of Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

On a sunny autumn morning about 2 weeks into my epic Rust Belt road trip, I made my way through Erie County, Ohio. I'd spent the previous day exploring the awesome remains of an abandoned WWII era ammunition factory and the industrial ruins of South Bend, Indiana before continuing eastward into Ohio.

With Lake Erie to my left and stretches of farm fields and forest lands on my right, I came upon a sight so unusual and striking that I had to pull over for a closer look. A smokestack towered over a sprawling abandoned greenhouse complex overcome by the plant life it once contained.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Trees burst through the glass ceilings and explosive plant growth dislodged panes of glass from the structure's metal frame.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

A glimpse inside revealed a ground blanketed in greenery. Leafy vines and trees grew along the walls giving the place a jungle-like atmosphere. I felt like I was peering into some magical realm from a storybook.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Untended vines grew thick, twisting around poles to reach up through the shattered roof.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Some areas were so heavily shaded by foliage that few plants grew along the floor.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

A heap of empty plant pots lay against a wall.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Rusting equipment remained inside the main building.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Several abandoned vehicles sat on the property.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

The Otto family owned and operated Otto's Greenhouse for several generations, reaching back to the 1800s. They cultivated a variety of crops including cucumbers, flowers and tomatoes.

Vintage cardboard tomato boxes from the 1960s can still be found on Etsy.


The family had at least one other greenhouse in the Ceylon area, featuring a similar smokestack, but the facility is no longer standing.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

Otto's Greenhouse closed in the late 1990s due to financial difficulties. The details surrounding the closure are difficult to pin down, though a variety of reasons have been cited. Competition from cheaper imported Mexico-grown tomatoes undercut profits, especially in the wake of NAFTA in the late '90s. An attempt to pump water from Lake Erie is said to have resulted in the flooding of local homes due to an improperly installed valve.

Whiteflies, the bane of many tomato growers, also played a part in the demise of Otto's Greenhouse. The insect draws sap from the tomato plant, often spreading devastating viruses and mold infestations.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to see Otto's Greenhouse while it still stood. This beautiful structure has been demolished since the time of my visit. A drone video posted on Youtube shows that very little remains of the greenhouse, other than the smokestack and the gutted shell of the main building.

Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio

I resumed my journey eastward to Akron, Ohio, where I lived out my dream of exploring a dead mall. I can hardly wait to tell you about it.

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Nature reclaims abandoned Otto's Greenhouse in Huron, Ohio