Canton is a city in and the county seat of Stark County, Ohio, United States. Founded in 1805 alongside the Middle and West Branches of Nimishillen Creek, Canton became a heavy manufacturing center because of its numerous railroad lines. However, its status in that regard began to decline during the late 20th century, as shifts in the manufacturing industry led to the relocation or repositioning of many factories. After this decline, the city's industry diversified into the service economy, including retailing, education, finance and healthcare.
Canton is located approximately 24 miles (39 km) south of Akron, and 60 miles (97 km) south of Cleveland, in the northeastern part of Ohio. Canton lies on the outskirts of the greater northeast Ohio metropolitan area anchored by Cleveland, and is also a short distance away from the periphery of the greater Pittsburgh area. The city serves as a gateway to Ohio's extensive Amish country, particularly in Holmes and Wayne counties to the city's west. Canton is located along the historic Lincoln Highway, the present-day Interstate 77, U.S. Route 30 and U.S. Route 62, and is also the terminus of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
As of the 2010 Census, the city of Canton is the largest incorporated area in the Canton-Massillon Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMMSA), which includes all of Stark and Carroll counties. The CMMSA reported a population of 404,422. Canton's city population declined 9.7%, down to 73,007 residents. Despite this decline, the 2010 figure actually moved Canton from ninth to eighth place among Ohio cities. Nearby Youngstown in Mahoning County, once considerably more populous than Canton, suffered a larger decline.
Most outside attention given to Canton is focused on two things. The first is football, especially the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the formation in 1920 of what eventually became the National Football League. The second is William McKinley, who conducted from his home in Canton the famed front porch campaign which won him the presidency of the United States in the 1896 election. The McKinley National Memorial and the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum commemorate his life and presidency. Canton was chosen as the site of the First Ladies National Historic Site largely in honor of his wife, Ida Saxton McKinley.
Canton was founded in 1805. Cantonrep.com quotes Kim Kenney, the curator of the William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, whose information came from E.T. Heald's series, The Stark County Story, as saying that Canton was incorporated as a village in 1822, and then as a city in 1838.
Bezaleel Wells, the surveyor who divided the land of the town, named it after Canton (a traditional name for Guangzhou), China. The name was a memorial to a trader named John O'Donnell, whom Wells admired. O'Donnell had named his Maryland plantation after the Chinese city, as he had been the first person to transport goods from there to Baltimore.