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City of Kent, Ohio
Downtown Kent 2013.JPG Franklin Hotel hill.JPG
Dix Stadium 2012.JPG Kent Roosevelt front 2.jpg Kent Hall 2015 front.jpg
Downtown Kent bridge.JPG Cuyahoga River Kent 2012.JPG
Top from left: old Erie Depot and Star of the West mill, Franklin Hotel, Dix Stadium, Theodore Roosevelt High School, Kent Hall, Main Street Bridge and arch dam, Cuyahoga River
Official seal of Kent
Nickname(s): The Tree City
Location in Portage County
Location in Portage County
Country United States
State Ohio
County Portage
Founded November 1805
Incorporated 1867
Founded by John Haymaker
Named for Marvin Kent
 • Total 9.28 sq mi (24.0 km2)
 • Land 9.17 sq mi (23.8 km2)
 • Water 0.11 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 1,056 ft (322 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 28,904
 • Estimate (2015) 29,810
 • Density 3,152.0/sq mi (1,217.0/km2)
Demonym(s) Kentite
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
ZIP codes 44240, 44242, 44243
Area code(s) 330, 234
FIPS code 39-39872
GNIS feature ID 2395512

Kent is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the largest city in Portage County. It is located along the Cuyahoga River in Northeast Ohio on the western edge of the county. The population was 28,904 in the 2010 Census and 29,810 in the 2015 estimate. The city is counted as part of the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area and the larger Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area.

Part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, Kent was settled in 1805 and was known for many years as Franklin Mills. Settlers were attracted to the area due to its location along the Cuyahoga River as a place for water-powered mills. Later development came in the 1830s and 1840s as a result of the settlement's position along the route of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal. Leading up to the American Civil War, Franklin Mills was noted for its activity in the Underground Railroad. With the decline of the canal and the emergence of the railroad, the town became the home of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad maintenance shops through the influence of Marvin Kent. In 1864 the town was renamed Kent in honor of and in gratitude for Marvin Kent's efforts. It was incorporated as a village in 1867 and became a city after the 1920 Census. Today Kent is a college town best known as the home of the main campus of Kent State University, founded in 1910, and as the site of the 1970 Kent State shootings.

Historically a manufacturing center, education is the city's largest economic sector with Kent State University the city's, and one of the region's, largest employers. The Kent City School District and the Kent Free Library provide additional education opportunities and resources. Many of Kent's demographic elements are influenced by the presence of the university, particularly the median age, median income, and those living below the poverty level. The city is governed by a council-manager system with a city manager, a nine-member city council, and a mayor. Kent has nearly 20 parks and preserves and hosts a number of annual festivals including ones related to Earth Day, folk music, and the U.S. Independence Day. In addition to the Kent State athletic teams, the city also hosts a number of amateur and local sporting events at various times during the year. Kent is part of the Cleveland-Akron media market and is the city of license for three local radio stations and three television stations and includes the regional affiliates for National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Local transportation infrastructure includes a public bus service and hike-and-bike trails. As the home of the Davey Tree Expert Company, Kent is known as "The Tree City" while residents are referred to as "Kentites". The city has produced a number of notable individuals, particularly in politics, athletics, and the entertainment industry.


The region was originally inhabited by various tribes of American Indians, including the early Mound Builders. Around 1780, Captain Samuel Brady achieved notoriety for his activities in the area, including his famous leap of 21 feet (6 m) over the Cuyahoga River to avoid capture by an unknown band of American Indians. The site, known as Brady's Leap, is now a city park. Settlement by Europeans began in the late 1790s and early 19th century. As part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, the area was divided into survey townships in 1798 and almost all of what is now Kent was originally part of Town 3 Range 9, which would eventually be known as Franklin Township. Aaron Olmsted, a wealthy Connecticut merchant, had purchased the 16,000-acre (6,500 ha) township and named it for his son Aaron Franklin Olmsted.

Franklin Township was surveyed in 1803 and settled in November 1805 when John Haymaker and his family moved west from Warren to the banks of the Cuyahoga River. They were joined by John's brother George and their father Jacob Haymaker and their families early the next year, and built a gristmill in 1807. Initial growth in the area was slow, but eventually two small villages would develop due to the potential for power generated by the Cuyahoga River that could be used in gristmills and manufacturing. The first village, known as Franklin Mills, or locally as the "Lower Village", developed mostly around the original Haymaker property. In 1818, Joshua Woodard arrived in the area and began constructing buildings just north of the village forming the "Upper Village" that would come to be known briefly as Carthage.

Former P & O Canal lock and dam downtown

In the 1820s, Franklin Mills was included in the route of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal (P & O Canal). When construction began on the canal in the mid-1830s, land speculation was rampant in many areas of northeast Ohio along the canal, including Franklin Mills. As a result, an industrial and business region was established along the east side of the river in what is now downtown Kent. Factories and mills were either planned or constructed along the Cuyahoga River, some of which either were never built or ultimately failed, due mostly to effects of the Panic of 1837. A lock and attached arch dam, however, was completed in 1836. The canal officially opened in 1840, but would only operate into the 1860s. By the 1870s the canal was completely shut down.

In the era leading up to the American Civil War, Franklin Mills was an active stop on the Underground Railroad, giving fugitive slaves shelter on their escape to Canada. There were three notable stops in Franklin Mills, one of which still stands as of 2010. During this period, from 1835 to 1839, noted American abolitionist John Brown moved to the village, operating a tannery along the Cuyahoga River with Zenas Kent.

In 1863 the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad was constructed through Franklin Mills, due largely to the efforts of local businessman Marvin Kent, son of Zenas Kent. Marvin Kent had started his own railroad company, the Franklin and Warren Railroad, in 1851 after Franklin Mills, already home to several Kent family ventures and properties, was bypassed by the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad that same year. Kent was also successful in getting the village named as the location of the railroad's maintenance yards and shops in 1864. The geographic location along the railroad and being home to the shops reinvented and revitalized the village as an important stop on the east-west line between St. Louis and New York City. The shops would open in 1865 and the railroad would play an important part of Kent's industry and development through the early 20th century before the shops were completely shut down in 1930. To honor Marvin Kent, the village was renamed Kent in 1864, although this change was not official until the village was incorporated on May 6, 1867.

John Davey came to Kent in 1881 as head grounds keeper at Standing Rock Cemetery, and planted several trees, landscaped the cemetery, and performed experiments on trees. In 1901, he published his theories on tree surgery with his book The Tree Doctor, and later established the Davey Tree Expert Company in 1909. The efforts of Davey and the presence of Davey Tree led to the establishment of "The Tree City" as a nickname for Kent, which is reflected in the city's seal. The company continues to be headquartered in Kent and serves as the city's largest private employer.

Lowry Hall 1
Lowry Hall, one of the original campus buildings of Kent State University

After a fire destroyed the Seneca Chain Company in 1909, one of the city's main industries at the time, city leaders created the Kent Board of Trade in 1910, a forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce. The new Board was successful later that year in having Kent selected out of twenty northeastern Ohio cities as the site of a new teacher training college, which became known as the "Kent State Normal School". The site for the school was on 53 acres (21 ha) of land donated by William S. Kent, son of Marvin Kent, on what was then the eastern edge of town. By 1929 the school was renamed Kent State College after the establishment of a college of liberal arts and degrees in the arts and sciences and in 1935 was renamed Kent State University after it was given authorization to grant advanced graduate degrees. The bill giving Kent State university status was signed into law by Ohio governor and Kent native Martin L. Davey, son of tree surgeon John Davey. During the 1950s and 1960s the growth of Kent State University combined with the effects of suburbanization resulted in significant population growth for the city, rising from just over 12,000 residents at the 1950 census to over 28,000 by 1970. Black squirrels were brought to the campus from Canada in 1961 by Kent State University head groundskeeper Larry Woodell. The squirrels have become an icon for both KSU and the city and are often used as unofficial mascots and symbols.

In early May 1970, protests began on the campus of Kent State University over the United States' invasion of Cambodia in the Vietnam War. These protests and demonstrations, which included rioting in downtown Kent on May 2, culminated in the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970, where four students were killed and nine were wounded by the Ohio Army National Guard. Several memorials have been placed at the site over the years and commemorations have been held annually since 1971. In 2010 the entire site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also during the late 1960s and into the 1970s, construction of Haymaker Parkway, completed in 1975, brought changes to the city's layout while eliminating ongoing problems with traffic congestion and blocked rail crossings.

In 1995, Kent received national attention when the city's water was named "Best Tasting Municipality Water" at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting. The water and mayor Kathleen Chandler were featured on the March 3 episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Since then, Kent has placed in the top five a total of six times with the most recent being a fifth-place finish in 2011. In 2003, the 1836 arch dam was bypassed to meet water quality standards set by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. To preserve the historic dam, a small park was built behind the dam and the river was rerouted through the old canal lock. During warm-weather months, water is pumped over the dam. The park, known as Heritage Park, was formally dedicated in May 2005.


Kent Downtown Development 2013
Downtown developments completed or under construction in March 2013

Beginning in 2008, several redevelopment projects in the downtown area, some of which had been discussed for decades, were put into motion and resulted in nearly $110 million in total investment from public and private sources. The first of these was the Phoenix Project, a development privately financed by Kent resident Ron Burbick that renovated and expanded a section of commercial space along East Main Street. Included in the project was construction of a pedestrian alleyway lined with small shops, eventually known as Acorn Alley, which opened in 2009. A second phase of Acorn Alley opened the next year. Other aspects of the redevelopment, which include a 360-space parking deck and bus transfer station, a hotel and conference center, and three separate mixed-use buildings, began to take shape in 2010 following the demolition of several buildings in a four block area. New offices for Ametek and the Davey Tree Expert Company opened in late 2012 along with several new small businesses on the first floors of each building. The hotel, operated by Kent State University, opened in June 2013 and the new parking garage, operated by the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA) opened April 30, 2013, as the Kent Central Gateway. In addition to parking, the facility functions as PARTA's main bus transfer station and has storefronts on the ground level facing East Erie Street. Included in the redevelopment was the purchase and renovation of the old Kent hotel, which first opened in 1920. After being mostly vacant since 1979 and completely vacant since 2000, it re-opened on April 1, 2013, as the new home to the Kent location of Buffalo Wild Wings and also houses offices, a wine and jazz bar, and apartments. A five-story mixed-use building called The Landmark was completed in 2014 and construction started in November 2015 on an additional five-story mixed-use building featuring microapartments, scheduled to be completed in 2016. The developments attracted the attention of The Plain Dealer and The New York Times and earned the city and university the 2013 Larry Abernathy Award from the International Town–Gown Association in recognition of the positive town–gown cooperation and collaboration.

Kent offices of AMETEK, which opened in 2012

Additional development has been ongoing on the campus of Kent State University and the largely residential neighborhood located between downtown Kent and the western edge of campus. The university began buying properties in that neighborhood in 2007 and by December 2012 had acquired 43. Construction of the University Esplanade extension, designed to link campus with downtown, started in August 2012 after several of the buildings in the area, most of which had been rental homes, were demolished or moved. The Esplanade extension continued a segment of the Portage Hike and Bike Trail that extends to Dix Stadium and was completed in October 2013. Kent State is constructing a new $48 million, 107,000 square feet (9,900 m2) facility for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design along the Esplanade extension and also relocated the former home of May Prentice, the first female faculty member at Kent State, to the extension as the home for the Wick Poetry Center. Construction on the architecture building started in October 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in 2016. In total, there are plans totaling approximately $150 million for several other facilities and upgrades across campus, including a new building for the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology and a renovation and reorganization of the facilities for the School of Art. The city and county have also seen developments in the same area. A new county municipal courthouse on East Main Street was completed in April 2014, and in 2015, Kent City Council approved the sale of the city hall complex to a private developer for construction of a five-story apartment building on the site, which opened in August 2016.


Kent is located in west-central Portage County in Northeast Ohio approximately 10 miles (20 km) northeast of Akron and 30 miles (50 km) southeast of Cleveland. It is bordered by Franklin Township on the north and east, Brimfield Township on the south, and Stow on the west. Other nearby communities include Brady Lake and Ravenna to the east and Sugar Bush Knolls and Streetsboro to the north. It is included in the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area and the larger Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area.

Located on the western end of the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau, the topography of Kent includes rolling hills and varied terrain. The Cuyahoga River passes through the city, cutting a gorge with a drop of nearly 40 feet (10 m) adjacent to the downtown area. The United States Geological Survey lists the city's elevation at 1,056 feet (322 m) above sea level at a point near Kent's geographic center. Elevations vary slightly within the city limits with several buildings on the Kent State University campus at altitudes in excess of 1,160 feet (350 m) and points as high as 1,200 feet (370 m). According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2010 the city has a total area of 9.28 square miles (24.04 km2), of which 9.17 square miles (23.75 km2) is land and 0.11 square miles (0.28 km2) is water.


Kent seasons
The four main seasons in Kent: from top left clockwise, winter, spring, summer, and fall

Kent's climate is classified as a humid continental climate in the Dfa Köppen climate classification meaning it typically has very warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters with moderate and variable spring and autumn seasons. The record high temperature is 103 °F (39 °C), set on July 7, 1988, with the record low of −22 °F (−30 °C) recorded January 17, 1982. During the spring and summer months, thunderstorms are fairly common and the area is susceptible to tornadoes, though the last recorded tornado in Kent occurred in 1973. Effects from tropical systems can also be felt, usually taking the form of increased humidity, rain, and wind, such as with the remnants of Hurricane Ike in September 2008. During the winter months, snowfall is common and can occur in large quantities with considerable cloud cover. Kent is not considered part of the Lake Erie snowbelt, though lake-effect snow does occur at times. The city is in what is referred to as the "secondary snowbelt", meaning it will receive heavier snowfall totals from lake-effect snow when certain wind directions are more prevalent, but typically sees far less snowfall than areas to the north closer to Lake Erie. While temperatures below the freezing point are typical in the winter months, thaw periods where temperatures exceed 50 °F (10 °C) and even 60 °F (16 °C) are not uncommon in January and February.

Climate data for Kent, Ohio
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 65
Average high °F (°C) 34
Average low °F (°C) 20
Record low °F (°C) −22
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.02
Snowfall inches (cm) 12.4
Source #1: Intellicast
Source #2: NOAA


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 2,301
1880 3,309 43.8%
1890 3,501 5.8%
1900 4,541 29.7%
1910 4,488 −1.2%
1920 7,070 57.5%
1930 8,377 18.5%
1940 8,581 2.4%
1950 12,418 44.7%
1960 17,836 43.6%
1970 28,183 58.0%
1980 26,164 −7.2%
1990 28,835 10.2%
2000 27,906 −3.2%
2010 28,904 3.6%
Est. 2015 29,810 3.1%

As a college town, Kent's demographic and population statistics are greatly affected by the presence and growth of Kent State University. As a result, several statistics are noticeably higher or lower than state and national averages including median age and the percentage of residents in the 18–24 age bracket, individuals below the poverty line, and percentage of residents with a college degree.

Initial population growth in Kent was influenced by the location on the Cuyahoga River which led to the development of industrial and manufacturing jobs. Early settlers mainly came from the northeastern United States and were largely of German descent. After the arrival of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad in 1863, growth was steady into the early 20th century with the village battling Ravenna for the position of Portage County's largest city. By the 1930 Census, Kent had passed Ravenna as the county's most populous city with even larger population growth in the 1950s and 1960s rising from 12,148 in 1950 to 28,183 by 1970. As of 2010, Kent remains the county's largest city. Most recent population measurements of the city have shown the effect of changes in the city's overall population coinciding with changes in the number of students living on campus as well as a reduction in the number of persons per housing unit.

As of the 2010 Census, there were 28,904 people residing in the city for a population density of 3,150.5 people per square mile (1,216.4/km²). There were 11,174 housing units at an average density of 1,218.0 per square mile (470.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.1% White, 9.6% African American, 3.7% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. 2.2% of the population is Hispanic or Latino of any race. Though slightly below the national averages for diversity, Kent is very close to the averages for Ohio and above the averages for the surrounding area. Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, the city saw slight increases in the number of minority residents. The 2015 estimate placed the population at 29,810.

There were 10,288 households in 2010 out of which 20.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.5% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 56.3% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size in Kent was 2.2 and the average family size was 2.86, which compares with the national average of 2.58 for a household and 3.14 for a family and the state average household size of 2.44 and average family size of 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.4% ages 19 years and under, 44.1% from 20 to 39, 15.9% from 40 to 59, 8.0% from 60 to 79, and 2.5% who were 80 years of age or older. The median age was 22.7 years, which was well below both the median age for Ohio (38.8) and the United States (35.3). The city's population was 46.3% male and 53.7% female. The rate differs slightly from the national average of 49.2% male and 50.8% female and the state average of 48.8% male and 51.2% female. It contrasts with neighboring Franklin Township, which has a population that is 51.3% male and 48.7% female.

The mean income for a household in the city was $46,848, well below the mean household incomes for Ohio ($61,397) and the United States ($70,116) in the 2010 Census. The median household income in Kent was $28,958, compared to $46,563 for Ohio and $51,222 for the U.S. For families, the mean income in Kent was $71,817 with a median income of $59,936, both of which were closer to the state ($73,084 mean, $58,566 median) and national ($81,568 mean, $62,112 median) averages. Males had a median income of $35,316 versus $35,255 for females. The per capita income for workers in the city was $18,339. 10.4% of families and 29.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.1% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over. While the number of individuals below the poverty line is significantly higher than both the state and national averages, with 14.8% of individuals in Ohio and 14.4% in the United States being below the poverty line, the percentage of families below the poverty line is slightly below the state (10.5%) and national (10.8%) averages. Measures of high poverty rates in similar college towns, however, is not uncommon across the U.S.

Educationally, Kent is above the national, state, and local averages for residents who have attained a bachelor's, master's, or above a master's degree. At the 2010 Census, 41.9% of Kent's population above the age of 25 had obtained a college degree compared to 24.9% of the same population in Portage County, 24.1% statewide, and 27.9% nationally.


Kent Heritage Festival
2010 Kent Heritage Festival along South Water Street

Cultural elements in Kent include various arts, environmental, and entertainment events during the year, as well as the Kent State University Museum. The Kent Heritage Festival is held every July in the downtown area, coinciding with the U.S. Independence Day. The festival includes crafts, booths, entertainment, train rides, 5K and 10K races, and fireworks, drawing approximately 25,000 people each year. In October, Kent hosts the homecoming festivities for Kent State University, including a parade down East Main Street as well as other events and activities both on campus and around the city. Also in October, the downtown area hosts an annual, yet unofficial, Halloween celebration, which usually takes place the last Saturday of October. The event typically draws thousands, largely Kent State students, and includes many who dress in costume. In 2007 Main Street Kent, a local organization that promotes downtown Kent, created a family-oriented Halloween event downtown that precedes the unofficial celebration. Since 2007, Kent has hosted an annual environmental festival known as "Who's Your Mama?" which takes place in conjunction with Earth Day. The festival has events at various locations in the city, such as a vegan chef competition, concerts, a film festival, guest speakers, and booths on environment-based topics. Through Main Street Kent, additional events downtown include an ice cream social event in August, an outdoor concert series and "sidewalk cinema" between May and September, an art and wine festival in June, a cider festival in November, and the Festival of Lights Christmas celebration in early December.

From May to October, the Haymaker Farmers' Market operates every Saturday morning in the downtown area adjacent to and under the Greer Bridge of Haymaker Parkway. The location is marked by a commissioned mural completed in October 2012 on the two bridge supports that line each side of the market's area. The market was established in 1992 and includes over 40 vendors, making it one of the oldest and largest farmers' markets in Northeast Ohio. An indoor Winter Market, established in 2008, is held Saturday mornings from November through April.

Santa Arrival Kent 2012
Arrival of Santa Claus by train as part of the annual Festival of Lights in December

The Kent Stage, located downtown, is a performance venue for a variety of arts performances in music and theater. It hosts around 90 concerts, four theatrical performances, and four film festivals or movie premiers per year, including local, national, and international performers. Since opening in 2002, it has been visited by approximately 120,000 patrons from all over Ohio, 38 U.S. states, and 3 countries. In April, it hosts events related to the "Who's Your Mama?" Earth Day festival and in June, it is one of the host venues for the Kent Folk Festival, an annual event in folk music since the late 1960s. The festival includes multiple folk music acts at venues throughout the city over a period of several days. The Kent Stage also hosts the Kent Blues Festival and a local artist music festival known as the Up From The River Music Festival.

Kent is also home to the Kent State University Museum, located in Rockwell Hall on the KSU campus. The museum focuses on the history of fashion design and decorative arts in the United States and around the world from the 18th century to the present. Each year in early May, the university hosts an annual commemoration of the Kent State shootings, which typically features several speakers, forums, artwork, and other related events. On campus, Kent State operates the May 4 Visitors' Center, which covers the shootings and the events surrounding them. It is housed in Taylor Hall on the site added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 and includes three galleries covering art and media from the era of the 1960s leading up to the shootings, images from the actual event, and the local and national impact after the shootings. The center opened to the public October 20, 2012, during the Kent State Homecoming weekend. The site was named a National Historic Landmark in January 2017.

John Davey House
The John Davey House, a listing on the National Register of Historic Places

In addition to the Kent State Shootings Site near the center of campus, there are also a number of additional sites and districts in Kent on the National Register of Historic Places, some of which are open to the public. The Kent Industrial District is a historical district along the Cuyahoga River adjacent to downtown that includes an area and structures that were important in Kent's early history. On the northwestern part of the Kent State University campus is the Ohio State Normal College At Kent district, which includes the school's five original classic revival buildings dating to 1913. There is also the West Main Street District just west of downtown that includes 20 private homes of architectural and historical significance from the post-Civil War and early 20th century periods. The district includes the Kent Masonic Center, which was originally built in the early 1880s as the home of Marvin Kent and his family, and the former residence of Martin L. Davey, who served as Governor of Ohio. Buildings in Kent listed on the register include three private homes noted for their architecture styles: the John Davey House for the Second Empire style, and both the Aaron Ferrey and Charles Kent Houses as examples of Gothic Revival. Other buildings include the 1869 Kent Jail, now used by the Parks and Recreation Department, and the 1837 Franklin Township Hall, the site of eventual U.S. President James A. Garfield's first nomination for public office in 1859. As part of its renovation and redevelopment, the former Franklin Hotel, first opened in 1920, was added to the NRHP in 2013 for its local historical significance and its connections to notable people.

Parks and recreation

View from Heritage Park facing downtown

The city operates nearly 20 parks and preserves, the largest of which is the 56-acre (23 ha) Fred Fuller park along the Cuyahoga River, named after a former Kent Parks chairman. The park includes the Kramer Fields baseball and softball complex, which contains four fields, two of which are lighted. Several of the parks along the Cuyahoga River are on or near areas of historical significance. Franklin Mills Riveredge Park, which follows the Cuyahoga River through downtown Kent, passes through a large portion of the Kent Industrial District along with Heritage Park and includes sites related to the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal. Adjacent on the south is the John Brown Tannery Park, on the site of the former tannery John Brown helped fund with Zenas Kent in the 1830s, while Brady's Leap park, adjacent to the north, is at the location of the famed leap over the Cuyahoga River by Captain Samuel Brady circa 1780. The parks and recreation department, in addition to operating and maintaining the city's parks and preserves, also operates a recreation center on the city's south side and offers several sports, arts, and education programs at various locations in Kent. The department also sponsors events throughout the year including Art in the Park, an ice-skating party, hayrides, and Santa's Arrival. The Kent City School District operates an indoor pool at Theodore Roosevelt High School that is available for public recreational and instructional use outside of its use by the school for athletics and physical education. The pool hosts swimming lessons and serves as a home venue for the Hudson-based Hudson Explorers Aquatic Team, a competitive swimming program for ages five and above.

Within the city are segments of the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, which is jointly managed with Kent State University, the Portage Park District, and the city of Ravenna. The main portion of the trail follows the Cuyahoga River in Kent with most of the trail paved with asphalt. In August 2012, as part of several redevelopment projects in the downtown area, Kent State University began construction of the Esplanade Extension, which was completed in August 2013 and connects the university's portion of trail extending to Dix Stadium, known as the University Esplanade, to downtown Kent. The trail connects with the hike and bike trails in neighboring Summit County and links Kent with nearby communities in Portage County. The city is also home to the Tom S. Cooperrider-Kent Bog State Nature Preserve, located in the southern edge of Kent. It is one of the most intact bogs in Ohio, with the southernmost and largest stand of tamarack trees in the continental United States.

Through partnerships with Kent State University Recreational Services and other local agencies, additional recreational opportunities are available to city residents. A livery known as Crooked River Adventures is available at Tannery Park. The livery generally operates from May to October depending on weather and water levels. Canoe, kayak, tubing, and bicycle rentals are available to residents and students with kayak and canoe service as far as Brust Park in Munroe Falls and Water Works Park in Cuyahoga Falls. Kent also has a bicycle-sharing system known as Flashfleet in partnership with the university and PARTA. The program offers yearly memberships or hourly rentals with locations on campus and in the downtown area.


St Pats Kent
St. Patrick Church, a Roman Catholic parish, is the city's largest religious body

The earliest organized religious services in Kent were held in 1815 when a Methodist group was formed, followed by a Congregational church in 1819. The first religious meetinghouse in Kent, which also served as the first schoolhouse, was built in 1817 and was used by several different denominations. Later, the Methodists built another building in 1828 that was also used by multiple denominations. The oldest church building in Kent still used as a place of worship is the Unitarian Universalist Church on Gougler Avenue, which was dedicated in 1868. The former home of the Congregational Church was dedicated in 1858 and still stands along Gougler Avenue very near the Unitarian Universalist Church. It served as the home of the First Congregational Church—which became the Kent United Church of Christ in 1964—until 1955. It was later purchased by a local business and is used as their corporate headquarters.

As of 2010, within the city are two Roman Catholic parishes affiliated with the Diocese of Youngstown, one a family parish and one a Newman Center, as well as congregations of the United Methodist Church, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Free Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Church of the Brethren, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Presbyterian Church, Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are also Unitarian Universalist, non-denominational Christian, and Bahá'í Faith congregations. Although there are no Jewish synagogues or temples, there is a Hillel Jewish student center on the campus of Kent State University which serves students at both Kent State and the University of Akron. Just outside the city limits in Franklin Township are the Kent congregations of the Church of the Nazarene, Assemblies of God, as well as Baptist and Free Will Baptist churches. The Islamic Society of Akron and Kent operates a masjid and school on its main campus in Cuyahoga Falls, west of Kent. It was founded in Kent in 1979 and maintains an additional masjid in the city. Kent is also part of a ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rootstown that was first organized in Kent and includes most of southern Portage County.

Sister cities

Kent has one sister city, Dudince, a small spa town of about 1,500 people in southern Slovakia. The relationship was established in 2003 through Sister Cities International and resulted in the formation of the Kent-Dudince Sister City Association to promote learning and understanding of the Slovakian culture. The group meets regularly and organizes cultural exchanges and programs that feature Slovakian dance and music. Cultural exchanges have included a performance of a choir from Kent's Theodore Roosevelt High School in Dudince in 2004 and tour groups from Kent visiting in 2006 and 2008.

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