About Stark County, Ohio

The Area

Stark County, Ohio is home to North Canton, Canton, and Massillon as its primary cities. It has been noted as the home of Hoover vaccuum cleaners, Timken roller bearings, a leading area for automated bank teller manufacture, and home of Belden Village, one of the leading shopping complexes in the nation. Canton is also home to the American Pro Football Hall of Fame, and every summer the city hosts the Hall of Fame festival, which turns the area in a Mecca for a couple hundred thousand football enthusiasts every year. In many ways, the area often seemed to me a David Lynch-esque mix of Football, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet. The American Dream meets the ideosyncracies of real life...

The Heart of it All

One metaphor for the North Canton/Stark County area as mentioned to me by one of the residents is that its location within in the nation and state is similar to that of the heart in the human body. So, as it was suggested to me, perhaps Stark County is 'the heart of the heart of the United States'. With no small amount of irony, the area has been seen as the archetypal model of American life, as the North Canton area is frequently utilized for national marketing tests, and served for a launch platform for Time Warner's cable modem system.

This 'typical' quality is perhaps shown by the fact that in the past 35 years, the attitudes of the area have reflected the final outcome of nearly every major national election. In fact, for the last Presidential elections, the New York Times sent a reporter to live in the area in order to gauge the attitudes of the nation.

Developing America

The Stark County area foreshadowed the issues facing America in that in the greater area, Jackson Township ( the area containing the Belden Village shopping complex) was rated as the fastest growing area in the nation. In addition, to rapid development and a booming economy, there have been bitter disputes about sprawl, farm development, suburban blight, and infrastructural issues (utilities, transportation, educational) that show the growing pains that many areas of the US experience as a result of suburban expansion. In this way, Stark County become another indicator of 'The American Condition".

Therefore, in examining the questions of development in the United States, Stark County, Ohio has once again become a bellwether region and it is my hope that in some way this installation may offer some insights into the issues at play in the ongoing discussion of urban sprawl,