The City of Oberlin (population 8,200) was founded in 1833, at the same time as Oberlin College, one of the Nation's leading liberal arts colleges. Until about 1861, Oberlin was a crucial stop on the Underground Railroad for fugitive slaves who passed through on their way to Canada. Former slaves and famous abolitionists are among those buried in the historic Westwood Cemetery.
Visitors to the community are encouraged to explore many points of interest, including the historic downtown and a complex of two historic homes and one-room schoolhouse run by the Oberlin Heritage Center/Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization (O.H.I.O.).
Oberlin is a Certified Local Government, a Main Street community, and boasts many National Register sites, including two districts and three National Historic Landmarks. Main Street Oberlin, Inc. uses community resources to strengthen and broaden the economic base of downtown Oberlin, and to entice residents and visitors to use the district while preserving its historic integrity.
The historic Oberlin Railroad Depot, which served passengers from 1866 to 1949, is adaptively re-used as a community center and Oberlin recently received Federal transportation funding to renovate the 1889 Roundhouse (Gasholder) Building which will serve as a welcome center.
O.H.I.O. sponsors events including an annual Women's Equality Day Celebration, a Living History Open House featuring volunteer re-enactors, and a week-long Hands on History summer day camp. O.H.I.O. offers volunteer projects at historic sites, walking and biking tours, and a resource center containing artifacts, original documents, records, and information on local history.
The Web site of the Lorain County Visitors Bureau includes a self-guided tour of 15 places of interest in Oberlin centered around the historic Trail to Freedom. Oberlin was recently named one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2004.
Designated a Preserve America Community in August 2004.