Elements of Urbanism: Dayton

November 12, 2009 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a look at the downtown of Ohio's fourth largest city: Dayton

Tale of the Tape:

Dayton Population 2008: 154,200 (City); 836,544 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1805)

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

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Dayton (243,872)

City Land Area

Dayton: 55.7 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2008)

Dayton: -1.37%
Jacksonville: +15.86%


Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Dayton: 703,444 (ranked 52 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)


Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Dayton: 2,174.1
Jacksonville: 2,149.2


City Population Growth from 2000 to 2008

Dayton: -11,979
Jacksonville: +72,312


Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Dayton: Dayton Convention Center - 68,300 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center - 78,500 square feet

Connected to Convention Center:

Dayton: The Crowne Plaza Hotel ( 283 rooms)
Jacksonville: N/A


Tallest Building:

Dayton: Kettering Tower - 408 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet


Fortune 500 companies 2009 (City limits only):

Dayton: NCR (446) **Recently relocated to Duluth, GA in 2009**
Jacksonville: CSX (240), Winn-Dixie (340)


Urban infill obstacles:

Dayton: Downtown has been cut off from surrounding neighborhoods by expressways.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


Downtown Nightlife:

Dayton: Oregan District
Jacksonville: East Bay Street, located between Main Street and Liberty Street.  


Common Downtown Albatross:

Both cities have a large number of surface parking lots and have been overshadowed by larger cities in their states.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Dayton: 95 out of 100, according to walkscore.com (Downtown Dayton as keyword)
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

Visual Information

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 Dayton's land area.

Downtown Dayton Photo Tour

Oregan Historic District

The Oregon Historic District embraces the earliest surviving, relatively intact combination of commercial and residential architecture in the city. Examples of Dayton’s architectural history from 1830 to 1910 line the streets and lanes in the is 40-plus block area.


East Fifth Street

A popular local attraction, the commercial part of the Oregon District sits in between Patterson Blvd. and Wayne Ave. on E. Fifth St. More than 20 businesses currently thrive along this street from bars and restaurants to a government agency to a movie theatre and more. Popular locations include The Trolley Stop, a bar and restaurant frequently featuring local jazz and blues acts; Pacchia Cafe, an upscale tapas-style restaurant; Thai 9, a Thai and sushi restaurant; The Neon Movies theater, a movie theater catering to foreign, independent, and limited-release art-house features; and the Oregon Emporium, a corner coffeehouse affiliated with Pacchia and its sister establishment, The Jazz Room.


Unique Dayton

- Dayton's metropolitan area is the fourth largest in Ohio behind Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus.

- Home to Wilbur and Orville Wright, Dayton is known as the "Birthplace of Aviation."

- Dayton's nicknames include the Gem City (1800s), the Cleanest City in America (1960s), and the Birthplace of Aviation.

- In 1913, Dayton became the first large city in the country to adopt the council-manager system of city government.

- The National Cash Register Corporation (NCR), Dayton's only Fortune 500 recently announced plans to relocate their headquarters to Duluth, GA.

- In 1008, Forbes magazine included Dayton on its list of the "Fastest Dying Cities" in America.

- Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton have all delivered presidential campaign addresses from the steps of Dayton's old courthouse.

- Notable Dayton residents include Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Roger Clemens, the Wright Brothers and Keith Byars.

- Dayton hosted the first American Professional Football Association game (precursor to the NFL) in 1920.

Downtown Dayton

Unlike many midwestern cities of its age, Dayton has very broad and straight downtown streets (generally two or three 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.

Third Street is the main east-west thoroughfare through downtown Dayton.

Historical Sacred Heart Church

The Cannery Lofts

Eugene Barney got the Cannery off to an early start when he purchased land near the Miami & Erie Canal in 1843. Barney constructed a complex of buildings at Third and Wayne, where he provided DC electric to his tenants.

Today's development takes its name from the grocery-related business of some of the companies that took advantage of the newfangled technology of the time.

Companies like Weakley and Worman, Cincinnati Grocers, William Schull Co., or the Ach, Canby & Ach spice mills. Lowe Brothers Paint, Rike & Kellogg Parchment Paper Company and the American Cigar Co. have also occupied the buildings of The Cannery over the years.

Main Street

Main Street is the major north-south thoroughfare through downtown Dayton.

Courthouse Square, an outdoor entertainment venue, has been known since 1974 as THE place to see and be seen and is well known for the assortment of events held there each year.

The Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in downtown Dayton, is a world-class performing arts center and the home venue of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Ballet.

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 with some form of electric transit, Dayton is the second longest-running of the five remaining trolleybus systems in the U.S., having started them in 1933. They are behind Philadelphia, which started trolleybuses in 1923.[83] There is currently no RTA bus route serving the Dayton International Airport.

Fifth Third Field

Fifth Third Field is the name of a minor league baseball stadium in Dayton, Ohio in the United States. As in the case of another stadium in Toledo, the Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank purchased the naming rights to the facility. Fifth Third Bank also owns the naming rights to another stadium in Comstock Park, Michigan, near Grand Rapids, and a basketball arena on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.

The Dayton park, with a total capacity of 8,200, was built in 2000 for the Dayton Dragons, a Midwest League team and a Single-A affiliate of the nearby Cincinnati Reds. With two-deck seating and large skyboxes, some compare the Single-A field to Triple-A fields.

National City Second Street Public Market

The market is a place to shop, eat, people watch, socialize, see artist demonstrations, sample products and use free WiFi.  It began as an extension of the Wegerzyn Outdoor Farmers Market in the late 1990s.  The market operates in a historic block-long former 1917 B&O railroad building that was saved from demolition in 2001.  The market strives to promote sustainable, local food systems in order to shrink the ecological footprint of Montgomery County.


The Great Miami River riverfront

Riverscape Metro Park and Entertainment Plaza

The idea of RiverScape grew out of a strong yearning to reunite downtown Dayton and the Great Miami River. Since the levees were built through downtown to corral the river after the horrific flood of 1913, Dayton has struggled with its relationship to the Great Miami River. This beautiful waterway, flourishing with wildflowers and birds in the shelter of the levee, wound through downtown Dayton while most of us barely noticed it was there. The river corridor bikeway was begun in 1976 and eventually linked to cities throughout the region, yet there was still no solid link between the river and downtown. By the 1990s, people were clamoring to get down to the river.

Reclaiming the River

Downtown Dayton needed not only to reclaim the Great Miami River, but also to reclaim downtown. Suburban sprawl had left empty storefronts and abandoned warehouses throughout downtown. The newly formed Downtown Dayton Partnership (DDP) was charged with taking on that task. At the same time, Five Rivers MetroParks had taken over Van Cleve Park from the City of Dayton and was exploring what potential lay there at the top of the levee. Through surveys and meetings, the DDP quickly learned that the public thought the best way to bring people downtown was to enhance the river’s edge. MetroParks, which had hired Belgian landscape designer Francois Goffinet, learned that Van Cleve Park had the potential to provide a beautiful and exciting downtown park. With these two goals in mind, MetroParks and the DDP partnered with The Miami Conservancy District in 1997 to develop a master plan to reconnect downtown to the river and begin downtown revitalization.

RiverScape Partnership

These three organizations were soon joined by Montgomery County, the City of Dayton and the Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to establish the RiverScape partnership. Over $30 million was raised to fund the construction —over a third from private individuals and companies in a campaign led by David Holmes of Reynolds & Reynolds. Over the next four years, ten consultants and well over a dozen contractors worked to turn the vision into bricks and mortar, flowers and fountains. On May 19, 2001, the park opened to a crowd of 50,000, the largest crowd ever to gather in downtown Dayton. Crowds continued to grow at special events throughout the summer, but even on a Tuesday afternoon or a Sunday evening, the park bustled with hundreds of people from throughout the Miami Valley. Dayton had returned to the river.


Article by Ennis Davis