Dayton, Ohio

Dayton is a city in southwestern Ohio, United States. It is the county seat and largest city of Montgomery County. The population was 166,179 at the 2000 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Montgomery, Miami, Greene, and Preble counties, had a population of 835,537 as of 2007. Dayton is situated within the Miami Valley region of Ohio, just north of the Cincinnati metropolitan area.

Dayton plays host to significant industrial, aerospace, and technological/engineering research activity and is known for the many technical innovations and inventions developed there. The city was the home of the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, which brought an end to the war in Bosnia. The Wright brothers, poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, and entrepreneur John H. Patterson were born in Dayton. The Dayton area is home to several major international, national, and regional corporations, including NCR, Reynolds & Reynolds, Cargill, ChemStation International, Liberty Bank, NewPage Corporation, Standard Register, WorkflowOne (formerly Relizon), Huffy Bicycles, LexisNexis, and Mead prior to becoming MeadWestvaco. It was formerly home of Speedwell Motor Car Company.


Dayton was founded on April 1, 1796 by a small group of US settlers seven years before the admission of Ohio to the Union in 1803. The town was incorporated in 1805 and given its name after Jonathan Dayton, a captain in the American Revolutionary War and signatory of the U.S. Constitution.

In 1797, Daniel C. Cooper laid out the Mad River Road, the first overland connection between Cincinnati, Ohio and Dayton. This opened up the "Mad River Country" at Dayton and the upper Miami Valley to settlement.

The Miami and Erie Canal, built in the 1830s, connected the Dayton commerce from Lake Erie via the Great Miami River and served as the principal route of transportation for western Ohio until the 1850s.

The catastrophic Great Dayton Flood of March 1913 severely affected much of the city, stimulated the growth of suburban communities outside central Dayton in areas lying further from the Miami River and on higher ground, and led to the establishment of the Miami Conservancy District in 1914. The flood remains an event of note in popular memory and local histories. The high waters damaged some of the Wright Brothers' glass plate photographic negatives of their glider flights at Kitty Hawk and power flights over Huffman Prairie near Dayton.

Involvement in World War II

During World War II Dayton, like many other American cities, was heavily involved in the war effort. Residential neighborhoods in Dayton and in nearby Oakwood hosted the Dayton Project, in which the Monsanto Chemical Company developed methods to industrially produce polonium for use in the triggers of early atomic bombs, including those dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Dayton was also home to the National Cash Register Company whose employees built airplane engines, bomb sights and code-breaking machines, including the American bombe designed by Joseph Desch which helped crack the Enigma machine.

Dayton Peace Accords

The Dayton Agreement, a peace accord between the parties to the hostilities of the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the former Yugoslavia, was negotiated in the Dayton area. Negotiations took place from November 1, 1995 to November 21, 1995 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.


Dayton's primary nickname is the "Gem City". The origin of the name is no longer clear; it appears to stem either from a well-known racehorse named "Gem" that hailed from Dayton, or from descriptions of the city likening it to a gem. The most likely origin appears to be an 1845 article in the Cincinnati Daily Chronicle newspaper, by an author writing with the byline "T", which reads
In a small bend of the Great Miami River, with canals on the east and south, it can be fairly said, without infringing on the rights of others, that Dayton is the gem of all our interior towns. It possesses wealth, refinement, enterprise, and a beautiful country, beautifully developed.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906) later acknowledged the nickname in his poem, "Toast to Dayton", which contains this stanza:

She shall ever claim our duty,
For she shines—the brightest gem
That has ever decked with beauty
Dear Ohio's diadem.

Another explanation for the nickname "Gem", is from Dayton's sister city to the south, Cincinnati. Cincinnati is known as the "Queen City", and Dayton would be the "Gem" in the queen's crown.

The city was advertised as "The Gem City, the Cleanest City in America" in the 1950s, 60s and into the 70s. The phrase was often seen on public trash cans, and other places throughout the city during this time period. Additionally, Dayton has one of the most consistent street cleaning schedules. Every morning, street cleaners sweep downtown Dayton of any trash from the previous day.

Ohio's nickname "Birthplace of Aviation" is also frequently seen due to Dayton being the hometown of the Wright Brothers. In their bicycle shop in Dayton, the Wrights developed the principles of aerodynamics, and designed and constructed a number of gliders and portions of their first airplane. After their first manned flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wrights continued testing at nearby Huffman Prairie.


Dayton is located at (39.762708, -84.196665). The city sits in the Miami River Valley, north of Cincinnati, well south of Toledo, south-west of Columbus, and east of Richmond, Indiana, in the southwest quadrant of the state. Most official and government designations place it in west-central Ohio (a term which colloquially often refers to Lima, Ohio). It is at the confluence of the Great Miami River, the Stillwater and Mad rivers, and Wolf Creek. Greater Dayton is generally referred to by locals as the Miami Valley, which is understood to mean the area south of Sidney and north of Middletown, and west of Springfield to the Indiana border

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 56.6 square miles (146.7 km²), of which, 55.8 square miles (144.5 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.2 km²) of it (1.55%) is water.


Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 71 73 82 89 93 102 102 102 101 89 79 72
Norm High °F 33.7 38.2 49.3 60.7 71.2 80.1 84.2 82.3 75.6 63.5 50.1 38.5
Norm Low °F 19 22.4 31.2 40.4 51.1 60.2 64.4 62.2 54.6 43.5 34.3 24.4
Rec Low °F -25 -16 -7 15 27 40 44 39 32 21 -2 -20
Precip (in) 2.6 2.29 3.29 4.03 4.17 4.21 3.75 3.49 2.65 2.72 3.3 3.08

The region is dominated by a humid continental climate, characterized by hot, muggy summers and cold, dry winters. The highest temperature ever recorded in Dayton was 105 °F in July 1934, and the coldest was -21 °F in January 1985.

Dayton is subject to severe weather typical to the Midwestern United States. Tornadoes are possible from the spring to the fall. Floods, blizzards, and severe thunderstorms can also occur from time to time.


Note: the following demographic information applies only to the city of Dayton proper. For other Dayton-area communities, see their respective articles.
As of the census of 2000, there were 166,179 people, 67,409 households, and 37,614 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,979.3 people per square mile (1,150.3/km²). There were 77,321 housing units at an average density of 1,386.3/sq mi (535.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 53.40% White, 43.10% Black, 0.30% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.70% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. 1.58% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Dayton remains largely segregated, with African Americans residing on the west and Whites on the east in the city proper . The population of Dayton has been declining since the 1970s, as can be observed from portrayal of historical population data.


There were 67,409 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.2% were married couples living together, 20.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.2% were non-families. 36.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.04.

Age structure and gender ratio

The age structure of Dayton's population is:

  • under 18 years: 25.1%
  • 18 to 24 years: 14.2%
  • 25 to 44 year: 29.0%
  • 45 to 64 years: 19.6%
  • 65 years of age or older: 12.0%

The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males, while for every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.6 males.


The median income for a household in the city was $27,523, and the median income for a family was $34,978. Males had a median income of $30,816 versus $24,937 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,547. About 18.2% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.0% of those under age 18 and 15.3% of those age 65 or over.

Metropolitan Statistical Area

The former Dayton-Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) included Montgomery, Miami, Clark, and Greene counties and had a population of 950,558 in 2000. In 2003, the MSA was split into the Springfield MSA, which includes only Clark County, and the Dayton MSA, which includes Montgomery, Miami, Greene, and Preble counties.

Political structure

In 1913, Dayton became the first large city in the United States to adopt the council-manager system of city government. In this system, the mayor is merely the chairperson of the city commission and has one vote on the commission just like the other commissioners. The commission hires a separate city manager, who holds administrative authority over the city government.

The city also encourages resident participation through the use of neighborhood associations and priority boards. A total of 65 neighborhoods comprise seven priority board districts.

See also: Neighborhoods of Dayton OH

Public safety

Dayton has experienced an improving public safety environment since 2003, with crime declining in key categories according to FBI Uniform Crime Reports and Dayton Police Department data. City officials reported in January 2008 a decline of 6.1 percent in crime for 2007 when compared to 2006. From 2003 to 2007, crime decreased by 10.7 percent. Among violent crimes (homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault), Dayton saw a decline of 17.3 percent over the five years ending December 31, 2007. Targeted crimes in downtown Dayton declined 39 percent over the five-year period.

A new police chief, Richard S. Biehl, joined the Dayton Police Department in January of 2008. Biehl brought more than 25 years of law enforcement experience (with expertise in prevention and community policing) to Dayton following a career with the Cincinnati Police Department and the Community Police Partnering Center (where he served as Executive Director), also in Cincinnati.

Dayton's relatively high position in recent, widely publicized CQ Press crime rankings may be considered questionable, depending on one's opinion of the study's methodology.

Mayor Rhine McLin is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets." The Coalition is co-chaired by Boston, Massachusetts Mayor Thomas Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Urban design and architecture

Unlike many midwestern cities of its age, Dayton has very broad and straight downtown streets (generally two full lanes in each direction), facilitating access to the downtown even after the automobile became popular. The main reason for the broad streets was that Dayton was a marketing and shipping center from its beginning: streets were broad to enable wagons drawn by teams of three to four pairs of oxen to turn around. In addition, some of today's streets were once barge canals flanked by draw-paths.

A courthouse building was constructed in downtown Dayton in 1888 to supplement Dayton's original Neoclassical courthouse, which still stands. This second, "new" courthouse has since been replaced with new facilities as well as a park.

Dayton's ten historic neighborhoods — Oregon District, Wright Dunbar, Dayton View, Grafton Hill, McPherson Town, Webster Station, Huffman, Kenilworth,St. Anne's Hill, and South Park — feature mostly single-family houses and mansions in the Neoclassical, Jacobethan, Tudor Revival, English Gothic, Chateauesque, Craftsman, Queen Anne, Georgian Revival, Colonial Revival, Renaissance Revival Architecture, Shingle Style Architecture, Prairie, Mission Revival, Eastlake/Italianate, American Foursquare, and Federal styles of architecture.

The two tallest buildings of the Dayton skyline are the Kettering Tower at 408 ft (124 m) and the MeadWestvaco Tower at 385 ft (117 m). Kettering Tower was originally Winters Tower, the headquarters of Winters Bank. The building was renamed after Virginia Kettering when Winters was merged into BankOne.

Culture and recreation

Dayton is home to the Dayton Art Institute, a museum of fine arts. The National Museum of the United States Air Force is at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The Dayton Metro Library is a library system consisting of 23 locations across the metropolitan area, with the Main Library located in downtown Dayton.

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park commemorates the lives and achievements of Dayton natives Orville and Wilbur Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park is located on the south end of Dayton. SunWatch is the location of a 12th century American Indian village that has been partially reconstructed and includes a museum where visitors can learn about the Indian history of the Miami Valley.

Dayton has given birth to a variety of popular pizza chains which have become woven into local culture, the most notable of which are Cassano's and Marion's Piazza.

Dayton is also home to a variety of performing arts venues. The Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center at the corner of Second and Main, is the home performance venue of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dayton Opera. In addition to Philharmonic and Opera performances, the Schuster Center hosts concerts, lectures, traveling Broadway shows, and is a popular spot for weddings and other events. The historic Victoria Theatre, located at the corner of First and Main, hosts concerts, traveling Broadway shows, ballet, a summertime classic film series, and much more. The Loft Theatre, also on Main Street, is the home of the Human Race Theatre Company.

Dayton is also the home to the Gem City Ballet and Progressive Dance Theater, companies in residence at the Pontecorvo Ballet Studio.

South of Dayton in Kettering is the Fraze Pavilion which hosts many nationally and internationally known musicians for concerts. Also south of downtown, on the banks of the Great Miami River, is the University of Dayton Arena, home venue for the University of Dayton Flyers basketball teams and the location of various other events and concerts. North of Dayton is the Hara Arena and the Nutter Center, venues that frequently host sporting events and concerts. The Nutter Center is the home arena for athletics of Wright State University and the Dayton Bombers.

From 1996 to 1998, Dayton hosted the National Folk Festival.

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association annually hosts North America's largest hamfest at Hara Arena in Trotwood, a neighboring suburb. Amateur radio operators are commonly referred to as "hams" with as many as 25,000 traveling from around the world to attend this convention.

The Dayton Canoe Club is a private club located on four rivers where canoeing is enjoyed by many enthusiasts. The Dayton Canoe Club was organized in 1912 and has an active membership today. They host events yearlong and members can also use the main hall for private events.


Club League Venue Established Championships
Dayton Dragons MWL, Baseball Fifth Third Field 1998 0
Dayton Bombers ECHL, Ice hockey Nutter Center 1991 0



The principal general-circulation daily newspaper in the region is the Dayton Daily News, which is owned by Cox Enterprises. Christian Citizen USA (currently doing business as Citizen USA), which claims to uphold traditional values and distances itself from secular media, is a newspaper with circulation in greater Dayton and its surrounding suburban communities. The Dayton City Paper is a free weekly circulation newspaper formerly known as the Impact Weekly. The Kettering-Oakwood Times, part of the Brown Publishing family, is a weekly with circulation primarily in the south suburban communities. Brown weeklies have a circulation of over 100,000 in the Metro-Dayton area. Flyer News is the semiweekly student newspaper at the University of Dayton and serves the campus community. The Guardian is the weekly student newspaper at Wright State University. And, the Clarion is the student newspaper of Sinclair Community College.


The Dayton metro area's broadcast television stations are as follows:

The Dayton television market is ranked the #62 Nielsen DMA in the United States.

Nationally syndicated morning talk show The Daily Buzz originated from WBDT-TV, the Acme property in Miamisburg, Ohio before moving to its current home in Florida.


AM format

FM format

Some Cincinnati and other southwest Ohio radio and television stations can be received in parts of Dayton, as well.


The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) operates public bus routes in the Dayton metro area. In addition to routes covered by traditional diesel-powered buses, RTA has a number of electric trolley bus routes. In continuous operation since 1888, Dayton's is the longest-running of the five remaining trolley bus systems in the U.S. There is currently no RTA bus route serving the Dayton International Airport.

Air transportation is available via the James M. Cox Dayton International Airport, located in nearby Vandalia, just north of Dayton proper. People from nearby cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus, and Indianapolis travel and fly out of Dayton due to lower costs.

Liberty Cab (in operation since 1929), Checker Cab and Airport Checker Cab all provide taxicab service throughout the Dayton metro area.

Dayton is located on Interstate 75, which intersects Interstate 70 just north of the city. This intersection is also known as "Freedom Veterans Crossroads."

The intersection of Route 4 and Interstate 75 is also known to locals as Malfunction Junction, because of the sharp turn in the Northbound lanes of I-75 that causes heavy traffic delays during rush hour. That section of interstate is also known for traffic accidents.

Starting in October 2007, a multi-year project to upgrade Interstate 75 through downtown gets under way. There will be three continuous through lanes on Interstate 75, when the project is two-thirds complete in 2011.

US 35 is also a major east-west highway passing through downtown Dayton, carrying commuters east to Xenia, Ohio or west to the Ohio-Indiana border. The stretch of US 35 through downtown just recently underwent major reconstruction, extending the third lane past Steve Whalen Blvd to the east.


Dayton is home to two major universities: the University of Dayton, a private, Catholic institution founded in 1850 by the Marianist order, and the public Wright State University, which became a state university in 1967. Wright State University has the only medical school in the Dayton area. The University of Dayton has the only American Bar Association (ABA) approved law school in the Dayton area. The Kettering College of Medical Arts offers two-year and four-year degrees in several disciplines including nursing. The Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology is a career-focused college also located in Dayton.

Dayton is also home to one of the country's leading community colleges, Sinclair Community College (founded as a YMCA college in 1887).

Dayton Public High Schools are: Paul Laurence Dunbar High, Thurgood Marshall High, Meadowdale High, Patterson Career Center, Belmont High, and Stivers School for the Arts. Paul Laurence Dunbar High has won the Ohio Division II state men's basketball title in the past two years, in 2006 and 2007. Private high schools include Chaminade-Julienne Catholic High School and Carroll High School.

During the 1990s, The Dayton Public School System was the lowest performing school district in the state of Ohio. After a dramatic restructuring of the schools in the mid 2000s, the school system had a new superintendent, Dr. Percy Mack. The district moved up from "academic emergency" to "continuous improvement", building new schools and the first all girls school in the City. The school district's motto states that "A New Day is Dawning" for Dayton Public Schools. On May 8, 2007, taxpayers voted against a school levy. As a result, approximately 250 teaching jobs were cut in a Reduction in Force, class sizes were increased, transportation services were reduced and some athletic programs were cut as well.

Points of interest


Sister Cities

Dayton has five sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):

See also


External links

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