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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.
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.
The city has produced a number of notable individuals, particularly in politics, athletics, and the entertainment industry.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. 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.A lock and attached arch dam, however, was completed in 1836.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.