Music Clubs & Night Clubs

East Market Gardens

East Market Gardens was bought from owners of a residential property and opened during World War I. Originally as an open-air pavilion, the property featured a large dance floor made of polished magnesite, rose silk draperies, battleship grey and white walls, and numerous flower baskets surrounding the building. The Akron Beacon Journal said the renovations done on the property returned a profit of over 600%. While the site was popular for social dance events, it was also used as a roller rink at the same time. The dance hall was the premier choice for the rubber workers of Akron.

As early as 1917, African American jazz groups, such as Parker’s Colored Jazz Band of Columbus, played for Akron crowds. The Gardens often featured live music, including Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and many other prominent African American performers during its time. It was a favorite place to dance the “Charleston” and other popular dances in the 1920s but it seems to have been largely or exclusively white at that time.

East Market Gardens began to appear in the Call & Post around 1935 with an article regarding The Sunset Royal Band performance with an astounding crowd of 871 attendees, which happened to be the largest at that time. Many of the Call & Post articles featuring the venue and its performers could be found between 1935-1950 which was when jazz grew significantly in Akron.  A 2004 article by the Akron Beacon Journal noted that by the late 1930s, “change was in the air,” and the “crowds just weren’t what they used to be. Starting in 1940, the building primarily became a roller rink and as the world transitioned during World War II, the building was leased by B.F. Goodrich as a storage depot for war materials. After the war, the Gardens would reopen in 1946 and host Tommy Dorsey and Vaughn Monroe’s orchestras.

East Market Gardens were also across the street from the second Akron Union Station which had rail lines from Chicago to New York which may have been the cause of its success as a jazz venue. The Union Station at 245 E. Market St opened in 1891 and remained open until 1951. The closing of the station may have correlated with the closing of East Market Gardens as railroad companies pulled out of Akron making direct routes to larger cities not possible.

East Market Gardens closed on Memorial Day in 1951 and was converted into a bowling alley as interests changed. It existed as Garden Bowling Lanes and Rubber City Lanes until 1982 when they closed. It was demolished in 1984 by the G.W. Lockhart Company and said to become the future home of a fast food restaurant. Currently, a parking lot occupies the space.


  • “871 Attend Dance.” Call & Post. September 5, 1935.
  • “At East Market Gardens.” Akron Beacon Journal. September 10, 1917.
  • “Brawl After Dance Brings Arrests.” Akron Beacon Journal. September 5, 1934.
  • “Joy Boys Change from East Market Gardens.” Call & Post. November 12, 1936.
  • Murphy, Frances B. “Old dance hall is reduced to rubble.” Akron Beacon Journal. April 24th, 1984.
  • Nichols, Kenneth. “The Sunken Gardens” Akron Beacon Journal. May 23, 1951.
  • Price, Mark J. “East Market Gardens.” Akron Beacon Journal. April 26, 2004.
  • “Swing King Comes to Akron.” Call & Post. July 9, 1936.
  • “Will Re-open East Market Gardens.” Akron Beacon Journal. April 14, 1917.
264 E Market St, Akron, OH

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