It was 1963.
The average new house cost $12,650.
Gas was 29 cents per gallon.
The Dow would close the year at 762.
In other words, that was a while back.
Out on Akron’s East Market Street, the booming Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. unveiled a gigantic diamond-shaped sign high atop one of its buildings.
It flashed the word “GO” ... then flashed the word “GO” again ... then it exploded into a massive flood of white light that spelled GOODYEAR, with the Wingfoot logo between the “GOOD” and the “YEAR.”
The thing was a beast: 326 bulbs of 50 watts and 852 bulbs of 75 watts.
In fact, the lights used so much juice that when the national energy crisis struck in 1978, Goodyear shut off the sign.
It stayed dark until 1991, when Stan Gault roared into town to put the pieces back together in the horrible years after Sir James Goldsmith’s takeover attempt. Gault said he wanted to “put the ‘go’ back into Goodyear” and fired it up again.
But in 2001, when Bob Keegan was running the show, he thought the sagging company needed a new approach. A new ad agency came up with a new slogan and the sign was changed to display “On the Wings of Goodyear.”
Never again would the first two letters of Goodyear flash by themselves.
The “Wings of Goodyear” lasted only until 2007, when Keegan decided the company needed to change the slogan again, this time to “Get There.”
The landmark hasn’t been plugged in since 2015, when Goodyear disowned it and moved into the sparkling new headquarters just around the corner.
If you’ve been following the sweeping developments in that area of East Akron, you probably know that the building beneath the sign — Goodyear Hall — was among the Goodyear properties sold to a company that specializes in redeveloping ancient industrial buildings. That would be the Industrial Realty Group, based in California and headed by Stuart Lichter.
IRG has transformed the structure into a mix of residential and commercial units and also has restored the old Goodyear Theater.
The giant sign is still intact, and it won’t be torn down anytime soon. In fact, some day it might even be cranked up again.
“Our long-term goal would be yes, we’d like to see it lit again,” says IRG Vice President Carol Smith. “I just don’t have a time frame on when.”
That would be cool. The sign represents a key part of Akron’s history.
(Please note that I have avoided the word “iconic,” whose massive overuse should eliminate it from contention as an adjective for at least another decade.)
By the way, if you want to flash back to the old “Go, Go, Goodyear” advertising campaign, you can find a one-minute commercial from 1964 at https://tinyurl.com/yc4rdehc.
It would fit perfectly in an episode of Mad Men.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31
Bob Dyer: Old Goodyear sign might someday blaze again
It was 1963.