That Fountain on West Market

Shady Park (AKA Neptune Park, AKA J. Alexander Park)
Corner of West Market Street, Aqueduct Street, and West North Street
Akron, OH

West Akron’s Shady Park is just a sliver of the grand recreation area that gave residents a place to picnic, catch a musical performance, and escape the smoky factories on the Eastside.

J. Park Alexander, a wealthy and prominent Akronite who found his fortune in the fire-resistant brick business, lived directly across the street on a large plot of land where a McDonalds now exists. Alexander donated a fifteen-foot fountain that was installed in the center of the park, which was later fenced in and became a central gathering place.

On June 16, 1893 the city held an opening day party, complete with speeches by politicians, a marching band performance, and a large fireworks display. Akron’s park commissioner had the fountain in mind when he decided on the name Neptune Park, a reference to the Roman god of water and the sea.

After Alexander passed away in 1908 the park was renamed Alexander Park. Less than two decades later the fountain was removed after the area fell into neglect and began to decay. In 1965 Life Magazine ran a photo of Neptune Park from its heyday (see above), prompting locals to chip in and start restoring the busy corner. In 2002 the City of Akron and the organization Keep Akron Beautiful collaborated to install a new brick walkway and a replica of Alexander’s original fountain, which was installed on July 25, 2002. A portion of the newly-restored garden was dedicated in memory of those who died on September 11th.

References
Price, Mark; Akron Beacon Journal, June 25, 2000.

Keep Akron Beautiful and City of Akron

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