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Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown

Metro Jacksonville explores a city so devastated by abandonment that city leaders have chosen the path of retraction and population reduction to find stability: Youngstown, OH.

Published December 29, 2009 in Learning From      13 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


Youngstown Population 2008: 72,925 (City); 565,947 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1848)

Jacksonville Pop. 2008: 807,815 (City); 1,313,228 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Youngstown (168,330)

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2008)

Youngstown: -6.14%
Jacksonville: +16.97%


Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Youngstown: 417,437 (ranked 80 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)


Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Youngstown: 1,828.7
Jacksonville: 2,149.2


City Population Growth from 2000 to 2008

Youngstown: -9,101
Jacksonville: +72,312


Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Youngstown: N/A
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet

Adjacent to Convention Center:

Youngstown: N/A
Jacksonville: N/A


Tallest Building:

Youngstown: Metropolitan Tower - 224 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet


Fortune 500 companies 2009 (City limits only):

Youngstown: There are no Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Youngstown, OH.
Jacksonville: CSX (240), Winn-Dixie (340)


Urban infill obstacles:

Youngstown: Downtown is completely cut off from surrounding urban neighborhoods by an expressway loop.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


Downtown Nightlife:

Jacksonville: East Bay Street  


Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Youngstown: 83 out of 100, according to
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to

City Land Area

Youngstown: 33.9 square miles
Jacksonville: 767 square miles

Green = Jacksonville's city limits (current urban core) before consolidation in 1968
Red = Jacksonville's current consolidated city-county limits

Jacksonville's current and original city limit boundaries over Youngstown's limits (highlighted in orange).

A Creative Plan to Sustainability?

When the mills shut down in the 1970s and ’80s, the smokestacks and foundries that symbolized steel belt manufacturing cities gave way to factory shells and rust. First unemployed, workers then began to move away for good. Unlike former steel powerhouses, such as Pittsburgh and Allentown, that have tried to attract new industry and grow their way back to prosperity, Youngstown, Ohio, is hitching its future to a strategy of creative shrinkage.

About the Youngstown 2010 Plan

The announcement was the beginning of Youngstown 2010, a bold plan for a new mode of urban sustainability. With only 80,000 residents left in the city, Youngstown leaders hoped to redirect limited resources to parts of town that they felt had viable futures. Residents would be offered incentives to move into parts of town not yet overrun by vacant properties, reorganizing the city around the university and a long-neglected urban core. A new Youngstown, smaller but more vibrant, would grow amid the shell of the old, which would either be demolished or ignored.

Downtown Youngstown

Youngstown's downtown, which once underscored the community's economic difficulties, is a site of new business growth. The Youngstown Business Incubator, located in the heart of the downtown, houses several start-up technology companies, which have received office space, furnishings, and access to utilities. Some companies supported by the incubator have earned recognition, and a few are starting to outgrow their current space. One such company–Turning Technologies–has been rated by Inc. Magazine as the fastest-growing privately held software company in the United States and 18th fastest-growing privately held company overall. In an effort to keep such companies downtown, the incubator secured approval to demolish a row of vacant buildings nearby to clear space for expansion. The project will be funded by a $2 million federal grant awarded in 2006.,_Ohio

Looking north into downtown Youngstown from the Market Street Bridge

Mahoning County Courthouse at Market & Boardman Streets

One of the city's most recent sports-related attractions is the Covelli Centre (formerly the Chevrolet Center and during planning the Youngstown Convocation Center), which was funded primarily through a $26 million federal grant. Located on the site of an abandoned steel mill, the large, high-tech facility opened in October 2005. The Centre's main tenants are the Youngstown Phantoms, which play in the United States Hockey League, and the Mahoning Valley Thunder, an af2 arena football team which began play in 2007. Previously, it was home to the Youngstown Steelhounds hockey team, who played in the CHL. The city plans to develop vacant land adjacent to the Centre. Plans included using the space for a park, riverwalk (the Mahoning River flows through the site), amphitheater, or athletic stadium for the city's public and private high schools.,_Ohio

In 2005, Federal Street, a major downtown thoroughfare that was closed off to create a pedestrian-oriented plaza, was reopened to through traffic.

NE corner of Wick Avenue and E Commerce Street.

Mahoning County Jail

Oak Hill Neighborhood

Just south of downtown, Oak Hill is one of the urban neighborhoods that may not be a part of Youngstown's future plans.

Today, nature is reclaiming her Oak Hill neighborhood. The once-dense section of Youngstown is again a refuge for hawks and rabbits. Trees are taking over lots where houses once stood. Sidewalks lead from one abandoned lot to the next, and fire hydrants sprout incongruously, like phone booths in a cornfield.

"I've been in this neighborhood 28 years," Harding recalled. "It used to be full of people."

These days, Youngstown leaders hope to close down Oak Hill and other dying neighborhoods. It's a slow and fuzzy process that will likely involve carrots, in the form of subsidies or buyouts, and sticks, in the form of government disinvestment in streets and services.

St. Patrick's Catholic Church

“This is a war, man,” he says. “Youngstown is literally a war. There are battles that are won and battles that are lost. This is a 30-year plan to get to the point that we’re stable and quasi-viable.”

For the Rev. Ed Noga, the war takes on a different form. Outside his church, St. Patrick’s, on the south side of town, manicured lawns give way to block after block of abandoned housing, boarded up and punctuated by empty lots where structures in even worse shape have already been torn down. This is Oak Hill, and by the measure of Youngstown 2010, city planners say the neighborhood doesn’t have much of a future.

Unique Youngstown

Rather than resigning itself to a sad and inevitable fate, however, Youngstown leadership has embarked on a novel approach toward a noble destination. For lack of a better term, one might call it “shrinking toward prosperity.”

In the past year alone, city planners estimate they have demolished more than 500 buildings as part of a plan to raze all of Youngstown’s slums and allow green space or new development to connect neighborhoods and commercial districts that survived the collapse of the local steel economy.

- The city was named for John Young, an early settler from Whitestown, New York, who established the community's first sawmill and gristmill.

- In the early 20th century, the community saw an influx of immigrants from non-European countries including what is modern day Lebanon, Israel, and Syria. By the 1920s, this dramatic demographic shift produced a nativist backlash, and the Mahoning Valley became a center of Ku Klux Klan activity.

- Endowed with large deposits of coal and iron as well as "old growth" hardwood forests needed to produce charcoal, the Youngstown area eventually developed a thriving steel industry. The area's first blast furnace was established to the east of town in 1803

- Between the 1920s and 1960s, the city was known as an important industrial hub that featured the massive furnaces and foundries of such companies as Republic Steel and U.S. Steel. At the same time, Youngstown never became economically diversified, as did larger industrial cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Akron, or Cleveland. Hence, when economic changes forced the closure of plants throughout the 1970s, the city was left with few substantial economic alternatives.

- The September 19, 1977, announcement of the closure of a large portion of Youngstown Sheet and Tube, an event still remembered by many Youngstowners as "Black Monday", is widely regarded as the death knell of the old area steel industry. This was followed by the withdrawal of U.S. Steel in 1979 and 1980, and the bankruptcy of Republic Steel in the mid-1980s. Attempts to revive the local steel industry proved unsuccessful.

- In the wake of the steel plant shutdowns, the community lost an estimated 40,000 manufacturing jobs, 400 satellite businesses, $414 million in personal income, and from 33 to 75 percent of the school tax revenues.

- The largest employer in the city is Youngstown State University (YSU), an urban public campus that serves about 13,000 students, located just north of downtown.

- From 1911 to 1919, Youngstown was the home of the Patricians.  The Patricians won the 1915 championship of what became the National Football League.

- Youngstown's cityscape includes relatively few contemporary buildings, and from certain angles, the downtown area appears to have changed little since the 1960s.

- In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Youngstown was nationally identified with gangland slayings that were often committed with car bombs. Hence, the town gained the nickname "Murder City", and the phrase "Youngstown tune-up" became a regionally popular slang term for car-bomb assassination.

A short list of luminaries who were born and/or raised in this mini-metropolis include President William F. McKinley; movie mogul Jack Warner; boxers Ernie Shavers and Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini; shopping mall magnate and San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo; football quarterbacks Ron Jaworski and Bernie Kosar; TV stars Catherine Bach and Ed O’Neill; movie director Chris Columbus; actor Austin Pendleton; economist Arthur Laffer; American Communist Party President Gus Hall; and imprisoned Ohio congressman James Traficant.

Youngstown State University

Youngstown State University, the primary institution of higher learning in the Youngstown-Warren metropolitan area, traces its origins to a local YMCA program that began offering college-level courses in 1908. YSU joined the Ohio system of higher education in 1967. Once regarded as a commuter school, YSU serves about 13,000 students, many from outside the Youngstown area. The campus is situated just north of the city's downtown and south of Youngstown's historic district, a neighborhood of Tudor-, Victorian-, and Spanish Colonial Revival-style homes.,_Ohio

Smokey Hollow

The Smoky Hollow district runs along the west side of Crab Creek near the Mahoning River. The neighborhood's name derives from the fact that the area was often saturated with smoke from the nearby Mahoning Valley Iron Company. The area was originally owned by the James Wick family of Youngstown. By the late 1800s, however, immigrants begin building simple homes on this land, which was within walking distance of the mills that sat along Crab Creek. Smoky Hollow was a high-density housing neighborhood of immigrants from around the world. By the early 20th century, however, the neighborhood was dominated by Italian Americans. In 1910 there were 576 families living in the Hollow – a mix of Irish, Italian, English, Jewish, German, and African-American. The area has produced many prominent residents, notably businessman and shopping mall pioneer Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr., who was born in Smoky Hollow in 1919. The neighborhood remained viable into the 1960s when it fell victim to suburban migration, university expansion, and real estate disinvestment.

Today, excluding a street or two, not much remains of Smokey Hollow.  However, due to its proximity to Youngstown State University, redevelopment lies within it's future.

Wick Park Historic District

Wick Park Historic District is a historic neighborhood on the north side of Youngstown, Ohio, with Wick Park as its centerpiece. During the first half of the 20th century, the residential district surrounding Wick Park included some of the city's most affluent neighborhoods. The district is "roughly bounded by 5th and Elm Aves., Elm St. and Broadway".

In the era of industrialization, Youngstown's wealthiest business leaders and professionals migrated away from the downtown to the wooded areas near the city's northern border. These semi-suburban neighborhoods were secluded from the noisy activity of the city's steel mills and retail businesses. Wick Avenue is sometimes described as Youngstown's version of Euclid Avenue (Cleveland's Millionaire's Row), or Fifth Avenue in New York City: it was home to the community's most established families.

Although some of these mansions have survived, few are currently used for residential purposes. Youngstown State University, whose campus is located south of Wick Park, purchased several of these homes and renovated them for administrative use. One campus-area mansion now holds the Arms Museum of Local History.

Wick Park is named for donor James Wick, a Youngstown-area industrialist. The park occupies a central portion of the district and, maintained by the Youngstown Department of Parks and Recreation, is well tended.

Adjacent to Wick Park, Stambaugh Auditorium is located at the intersection of 5th and Park Avenues.

St. Elizabeth Health Center

New infill housing near the St. Elizabeth Health Center.

Brier Hill

The birthplace of "Brier Hill Pizza," this urban neighborhood was onced viewed as Youngstown's Little Italy.  Today, little remains of what was once a vibrant close-knit ethnic community.

Like many urban neighborhoods, Brier Hill faces an uncertain future. Beginning in the 1950s, large swaths of the neighborhood were razed to make way for urban renewal projects, including the building of modern expressways. Brier Hill was further depopulated by economic dislocations that came with the decline, and eventual collapse, of Youngstown's steel industry. Today, all that remains of a once-vibrant ethnic enclave is the ITAM Post (Italian-American War Veterans' Club), the bandstand, Modarelli's Salumeria, and the memorial wall.

Looking north along Belmonte Avenue.  At one time, Belmonte Avenue was a major commercial corridor in Brier Hill.

Youngstown 2010 Plan Today

Youngstown Iron and Metal Company.

Like many projects throughout the country, the Youngstown 2010 plan is being impacted by the economy.

But Youngstown 2010 is faltering. Recession is challenging its plan. The city has little money to demolish vacant buildings; no one has taken the $50,000 incentive to move.

A handful of other Rust Belt cities from Flint, Mich., to Buffalo, N.Y., have considered similar plans. Youngstown’s experience underscores the difficulties of urban engineering on such a massive scale, as the promise of renewal collides with the sacrifices needed to make it work.

With more than 4,500 vacant structures and a declining tax base from an ever-shrinking population, the city can’t stay ahead of the abandonment trend, says William D’Avignon, deputy director of the city’s planning department.

In 2006, 351 structures were demolished. In 2007, 474. But the budget shrank in 2008, when only 103 were razed.

Now, the city is almost entirely dependent on federal funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program – about $2.7 million – to stem the tide of vacant buildings.

No one knows what the future of the Youngstown 2010 plan will bring for this Rust Belt city.  However, it's success or failure will be closely monitored by several cities across the country.

Photographs by Ennis Davis



December 29, 2009, 08:44:53 AM
I wonder if consolidation could be their saving grace.


December 29, 2009, 10:14:52 AM
Sad.  Some of the areas look amazingly good under the circumstancess.  It just goes to show that once prosperous areas can go the other way.  A glorious past does not insure a glorious fuuture. 


December 29, 2009, 10:20:50 AM
Oh my god Lake, looks like Jacksonville NORTH! Pretty damn bad for Youngstown when one of your two pretty modern buildings is the local JAIL!! I have great fear that you screwed us by posting this just as they announce the Convention Center isn't working here. Can you imagine what will happen when these Good Ol Boys spot that sparkling "Omni Center" ...

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio... Four dead in Ohio... Four dead in Ohio...

Gee maybe I found the city song? Their soldier statue is facing the wrong way for me to give a damn what happens to Youngstown.



December 29, 2009, 11:40:36 AM
For some analysis of Youngstown, and comparative analysis of Youngstown and Allentown, see the work of Sean Safford. There are lessons for Jax.

and his book here:


December 29, 2009, 12:15:45 PM
I wonder if consolidation could be their saving grace.

I'm not sure consolidation could save Youngstown. The surrounding counties are shrinking at about the same rate. However, a collective plan to create density while shrinking the metro area would certainly be improved with consolidated government (to say nothing of the savings and the efficiency.)

What killed Youngstown and it's surrounding metropolitan statistical area is a lack of diversification in the economy. With all of Jacksonville's problems, it does have a diversified commercial-industrial complex. In Florida, the MSA that should look at the hard lessons of Youngstown and the rest of the Rust Belt is obviously Orlando. The other Floridian metros had to diversify to survive the Disney bomb (and arguably, Jacksonville had to diversify earlier to survive the Miami bomb.) But, if the tourism market changes dramatically, Orlando is screwed because of their lack of a diversified economic base.

north miami

December 31, 2009, 12:46:34 AM

Probably no worse than Duval County & environs.
I have many cousins and a couple of friends that have either remained 'up north' or- in one classic case-bailed out of first, southwest Florida and later,Mandarin and Oakleaf in favor of Ohio.


January 01, 2010, 10:11:17 PM
I was born and raised in Youngstown.  I grew up on the wrong side of the local "millionaires row phase II “ meaning the second or third generation which located just outside the city proper.   As a good old fashioned blue collar family, I saw just about everything from mob hits to the best parties ever. 

My Great Grandfather and Grandfather lived and died the steel mill life.  When they shut down the mills in Youngstown, they shut down equipment that had been first installed and used in the 1890’s.  You can say economic conditions caused the collapse of the steel mills, but it was simply greed that put money into people’s pockets rather than ever made a real capital improvement.  Remember that when they started closing the mills in Y-town, Cleveland and Pittsburg, they opened a new facility in Gary, IN.  I knew of a machine shop that serviced equipment for the steel mills that still had the original 1890’s overhead belt driven machine tools.  Tolerances weren’t that great, but the prices were right.

The YMCA was downtown  and as a kid, I got the best real cherry cokes and malted at the basement soda fountain at the big Strous’ Department store.  It closed in the early 70’s.  May Company eventually bought the local and successful Strous’s stores and renamed them.  I grew up with the Strous kids and also the Raphael’s - one of the families that started Arbys.  So, Youngstown was much more than just steel mills and survived the initial hit in the mid 70’s reasonably well.  I knew lots of folks who lost there jobs at the mills, but somehow all of them found work. 

Lordstown, GM, and Packard Electric, GM both happened to increase jobs about that time so many simply moved a bit. There was/ is a company called Commercial Intertech - once call Commercial Shearing, whom I worked for.  Also, GF Business Equipment, once called General Fireproofing, which once produced the furniture used on ocean liners and then truly made it in the office furniture business.  In the eighties it was sold to a Japanese company and moved to the Nashville, TN area.  Lots of smaller companies opened as Youngstown had a great workforce.  RMI, which produced titanium for the military was located right next store and also geared up as the titanium was used in submarines as well as aircraft and Viet Nam was burning up those resources.  Not to mention that cold war thing. The truth is most of the workers in Y-town did not make the big money of the union steel mills, so most were not all that badly hurt by the closings.

Youngstown was about half way between Pittsburg and Cleveland and that is the reason for the gangland killings, the various crime families from the larger cities fought over control of Y-town,, which did not really end until …OK , so maybe they haven’t ended.   My Aunt was a local boss’s lady for most of her life.  I grew up around some of those guys.  I liked the guy that they had to scrape off the inside of the VW bug body.  We sometimes were not allowed to go over to my aunts because  there was some fear she had become a target.  I was offered a job while in college, but then you didn’t ask the kid, you asked the father.  Dad said no.

Briar Hill, by the way, was originally company housing.  My father was raised in Briar Hill, along with his three sisters and two brothers.  It was a huge melting pot of people from every ethnic group you could think of.  Gangs roamed the streets even then and switchblades and chains were the order of the day.

There was a great old mansion located on Wick Avenue.  Yes, the street was named for the Wicks, who owned much of Y-town at one time or another,  anyway, this particular mansion was built by a Mr. Wick for his wife and was a 4/5 scale version of a castle she liked in England.  Mr. Wick never lived in the house as he went down on the Titanic.  Mrs. Wick did finish the house, but then only lived there a few years.  She left it closed up for a long time and I know somehow it became a speak -easy, then an actual nightclub and then the Catholic church ended up with it.  It was torn down by a developer to build a bunch of bi-level houses. 

A few features that are gone with this unique home.  You walked into the main entry hall---a pipe organ spiraled up the center of the spiral stone staircase.  To your right was the Library, to your left was a parlor with a fireplace so large you could stand up in it.  Centered above the fireplace in the ceiling was a huge carved relief of a bald eagle.  In the upper floors were room after room of solid cedar closets and drawers.  I can’t remember how many bedrooms.  All the baths were marble of course and no expense was spared.  You could walk up one of the turrets and survey the many acres which included a Olympic sized pool and tennis courts.  The basement was unique as this is where the smaller swimming pool was…right next to the four lane bowling alley.

When they went to tear it down, they sold off much of what they could.  The pipes to the organ and the carved eagle and a few other gorgeous things were built into the house so well, they came out in pieces and so were lost.  The contractor thought the house was built of stacked stone so a wrecking ball was brought in to just knock the place over.  The ball bounced off, just chipping away a bit of the stone, revealing the iron framework.  The house at least got the last laugh and put the contractor into bankruptcy.  The bi-levels still got built though.

Downtown was a cool place as a kid, but by the 80’s looked like most other normal downtowns and was all but deserted.  The university saved it from being totally deserted even in the late seventies.  I would imagine that the worst is still the “north side” and the “eastside” which had gone from the usual upper middle class to all black to truly mixed even by the late seventies. They never really got “good”,  but still were home for many good families.

Youngstown seemed to have embraced the suburb concept and the local areas around the city have often done very well.  Many of the “famous” people credited to Youngstown are really from places like Liberty, Poland, Hubbard and Girard. I also  think that the car industry that once sort of helped save Y-town before has suffered badly of late and has hurt Youngstown possibly more than the steel mills in the seventies.

One last note.  I just got told that a fairly large business just left Albany, GA for new digs in Youngstown, Ohio.  They went for the well known blue collar work force more than anything else, so a suspect the people of Youngstown will survive as they always have. .

Just some random thoughts from someone who was there for the best and the worst.


January 01, 2010, 10:40:52 PM
I wonder if consolidation could be their saving grace.

I'm not sure consolidation could save Youngstown. The surrounding counties are shrinking at about the same rate. However, a collective plan to create density while shrinking the metro area would certainly be improved with consolidated government (to say nothing of the savings and the efficiency.)

What killed Youngstown and it's surrounding metropolitan statistical area is a lack of diversification in the economy. With all of Jacksonville's problems, it does have a diversified commercial-industrial complex. In Florida, the MSA that should look at the hard lessons of Youngstown and the rest of the Rust Belt is obviously Orlando. The other Floridian metros had to diversify to survive the Disney bomb (and arguably, Jacksonville had to diversify earlier to survive the Miami bomb.) But, if the tourism market changes dramatically, Orlando is screwed because of their lack of a diversified economic base.

Such fantastic thoughts! Really enjoyed this... After reading this, let's all go down to the Ostrich Farm and celebrate the new year.

What? No Ostrich Farm you say?

I've got another idea! DIXIELAND! Let's all go down to Dixieland Park and celebrate the new year.

What? No Dixieland Park you say??

Hey, How about we all go down to Oriental Gardens? We could have a great celebration in true Oriental style.

Oh no? No Oriental Gardens either??

Well just to prove we are flexible here in Jax. let's charter "The Dog" and we'll all ride down to Sunken Gardens, it's awesome.

What do you mean it's gone? Well?

There is always Masterpiece Gardens, it's amazing to look at the great masterpiece on mosaic tiles like that, we'll all enjoy the train and parrot shows.

Oh your kidding? No Masterpiece Gardens either?

Ah, but this is Florida! MARINELAND! We'll all go down to Marineland and have a grand old MJ party beneath the deep blue sea. It's the original marine movie studio in the country you know, they got a great restaurant and a nice hotel too.

Torn Down? You got to be kidding, just a dolphin swim? Really?

Rainbow Springs! Now there is a place where we can all agree to meet and picnic, they have this cool Monorail jungle ride that soars along the trees, the submarine boats are sweet and...

Oops I forgot, they redeveloped it into Condos a few decades ago.

guess what?
Sustainable Orlando my ass!
The Mouse is Really a RAT!



January 01, 2010, 10:47:40 PM
Great post, Strider.  I did not realize you were from Youngstown.  Pastor Clinton Bush's wife, over at City Kidz, is from Youngstown as well.  What's the story on Idora Park?  I didn't get a chance to visit the site but from what I understand, its an abandoned amusement park (former streetcar park) that has been left to rot.


January 02, 2010, 12:36:58 AM

I'd like to know too. Is there anything there worth salvage? Historic "Dixieland" style trolley park stuff would be most cool to restore and move to "The Gateway City." Speaking of which, my contacts in Oklahoma, found the McAlester Streetcars and Interurbans, that once sat at a restaurant... and they MIGHT be available for more restoration and operation. One is a shambles but still far better then the mess Fort Smith dragged out of an Ozark Canyon, the same "mess" that now operates daily in their downtown, and is a crown jewel of Arkansas! I believe there are 6 cars in McAlester, and a couple more on a farm just Northeast of the city along the old Interurban.

Also what was the link to the article on the group that does hypothetical designs for downtown's urban buildings? I remember looking at the designs for the Lerner Building and a service station? But can't find the article, or how to contact them.



January 02, 2010, 08:13:55 AM
Are you talking about the Urban Facelift Project by Content Design?


January 02, 2010, 10:42:46 AM
Great post, Strider.  I did not realize you were from Youngstown.  Pastor Clinton Bush's wife, over at City Kidz, is from Youngstown as well.  What's the story on Idora Park?  I didn't get a chance to visit the site but from what I understand, its an abandoned amusement park (former streetcar park) that has been left to rot.

Idora Park was one of the premier regional parks of it's time.  A great water ride, the rocket ships (just open "rockets" swing from a wire - a couple of them survive to this day as display items) and two great wooden roller coasters.  One was the Jackrabbit and the other was the wildcat and it was one of the top ten in the world. While I believe the park was struggling, the burning of the wildcat finished the park off in 1984.  

My parents courted at Idora Park.  The old grand stand was home to performances of all the greats of the thirties and forties.  I also believe rock and roll first came to Youngstown through Idora.  I remember going as a kid, was afraid to ride the Wildcat but my Mother and Father would ride it all day if they could.  I did like the water ride…still my favorite rides in any park.  The park was surrounded by residential and at least one side was Mill Creek Park, a very large and wonderful park that sort of wandered through a large part of Mahoning County.

I just goggled the park and below are a couple of links.,_Youngstown

To the Wildcat: If you just google Wildcat, Idora park, I think someone posted a video of the ride.


May 11, 2010, 05:56:12 AM
I grew up in Youngstown also, my dad was the weather man for the local NBC
affiliate, WFMJ channel 21.  I moved to the DC area in 1988 to take a job with
America Online.

Strider - could you email me all of the historic information you have about the former
Wick Mansion?

I have a website dedicated to Youngstown, and her historic homes and buildings.
My site has a few photos of the mansion you are referring to, and I have a photo
and some biographical info on George Dennick Wick, the Wick family member who
went down on the titanic.

Do you by any chance have any photos of the mansion?  You can FTP files directly
to the site server, - password is "youngstown"

You might also want to check out the links page on the website and read some of
the local blogs - Youngstown is FAR from being a dying city.  In fact, there are
quite a few new buildings downtown, as well as old buildings that are being
rehabbed and brought back to life.  One of them is now an upscale condo,
bringing residential housing directly downtown.

The Arlington/Hope VI neighborhood is a brand new development standing on
a site where there used to be depression-era projects housing.  This new
neighborhood has over two hundred new single family, duplex/townhouses, a new
seniors' apartment complex, and a brand new community center with indoor
basketball courts, etc.

Wick Park has a plan for a total makeover that will cost over 2.8 million dollars.
Smokey Hollow is in the fund raising stages of a 300 million dollar housing and
retail spaces development directly adjacent to the university.

The university is in the process of constructing a 35 million dollar Williams College
of Business Administration for MBA degree courses, and it continues to grow - with over
sixteen thousand students enrolled this year.  They just finished a new health and wellness
center, are in the beginning stages of a new indoor sports and athletic training center,
and a brand new set of student apartments costing over 2 million dollars is nearly
completed, with more student housing to come in the near future.

VXI corporation just announced an expansion project that will cost almost one BILLION
dollars and they're hiring additional employees.  General motors has called back the second
shift - and will soon be adding a third shift as it gears up to build the new Chevrolet Cruze
and the Chevrolet Volt. GM is also expanding the existing plant at Lordstown and will be
hiring a couple thousand additional employees once the expansion has been completed.

There are not two, but many new commercial and public buildings downtown, including
new courthouses, a museum of industry, a new building going up for the technology
firms who have "graduated" from the Small Business Incubator and are moving out and
into their own buildings as soon as they are built.  

The Semple building is in the process of redevelopment for another of these tech companies
that was birthed in the incubator.  Revere Data Systems recently moved their operations
from San Francisco to downtown Youngstown - and they actually IN-SOURCED jobs
from India, back to Youngstown!

Youngstown has built several brand new schools, and done major rehab/expansion of
the Chaney high school on the west side - all in the past few years.

All of the bridges on the local expressway around town are in the process of being
rebuilt, some of the downtown bridges have already been either rebuilt, or replaced
with brand new ones in the past three years.

There are new call centers in the former Strousses (Phar-More in later years, and now
"20 Federal Plaza") building that could add up to ten thousand jobs to the their workforce
which is already almost a thousand strong.   A new tech support company is also going
into business in this building, starting out with 100 new jobs and more to come.

The former Wick building is going to be re-developed as residential living space, just as
the Realty building already has been.

The former B & O train station has been renovated, and reopened as a restaurant and

The former Harry Burt ice cream (He invented the Good Humor ice cream bar) is being
reopened as a museum by the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

Site Magazine just selected Youngstown as one of the top cities to start a new business,

The recent Elton John concert at the new, 25 million dollar convocation center brought over
ten thousand people to the downtown area the night of the concert.  

There are new night clubs and restaurants opened downtown, a candy store, etc.  There is
more pedestrian traffic downtown than there has been in the past 30 years.  More parking is
available to encourage patronage of the new businesses downtown - with even more to come.

The city is researching deconstruction as a method of aiding the removal of dead and un-needed
homes and buildings.  This practice can actually generate revenues by recycling and selling good,
used building materials taken from de-constructed structures.  Materials like brick, stone, oak
and other hardwoods, architectural antiques, metals, etc.

Take a closer look at Youngstown.  Good things are happening there,and a once dying city
is breathing the breath of life again.  As new jobs are slowly coming to the area, tax revenues
are starting to rise and the city is slowly becoming viable again.

I have invested in four properties in the Wick Park area - three of which were vancant properties,
and I have been working to rehab them for the past four years.   One is now occupied, and another
is 95% through a complete gut and re-hab and will soon be occupied as well.  The entire Wick Park
neighborhood has begun to come back to life.

Downsizing CAN work - it already is in Youngstown.  I plan to move back to Youngstown some day
when I retire.  I've always considered the city my home, and will never give up on her.

Best Regards,

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