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The region was originally inhabited by various tribes of American Indians, including the early Mound Builders.Around 1780, Captain Samuel Brady achieved notoriety for his activities in the area, including his famous leap of 21 feet (6 m) over the Cuyahoga River to avoid capture by an unknown band of American Indians.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.
The city is counted as part of the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area and the larger Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area.
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.
The site, known as Brady's Leap, is now a city park.
Settlement by Europeans began in the late 1790s and early 19th century.