Author Topic: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown  (Read 4350 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« on: December 29, 2009, 06:03:46 AM »
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.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-dec-elements-of-urbanism-youngstown

Jason

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2009, 08:44:53 AM »
I wonder if consolidation could be their saving grace.

vicupstate

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #2 on: 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. 
"The problem with quotes on the internet is you can never be certain they're authentic." - Abraham Lincoln

Ocklawaha

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #3 on: 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.


OCKLAWAHA

djaffee

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #4 on: 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.

http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/president-obama-goes-to-allentown/#more-9221

and his book here:
http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Club-Couldnt-Save-Youngstown/dp/0674031768



AaroniusLives

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2009, 12:15:45 PM »
Quote
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

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #6 on: 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.

strider

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #7 on: 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.
"My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement." Patrica, Joe VS the Volcano.

Ocklawaha

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2010, 10:40:52 PM »
Quote
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.

WELL WALT?
THAT ONLY LEAVES DISNEY and Environs...
guess what?
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!
Sustainable Orlando my ass!
The Mouse is Really a RAT!



OCKLAWAHA

« Last Edit: January 01, 2010, 10:43:06 PM by Ocklawaha »

thelakelander

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #9 on: 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.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ocklawaha

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #10 on: 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.



OCKLAWAHA

thelakelander

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2010, 08:13:55 AM »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

strider

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #12 on: 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.

http://www.idorapark.org/

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idora_Park,_Youngstown

To the Wildcat:http://idorapark.tripod.com/wc.html If you just google Wildcat, Idora park, I think someone posted a video of the ride.
"My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement." Patrica, Joe VS the Volcano.

allany2525

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Youngstown
« Reply #13 on: 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.

http://www.allthingsyoungstown.net

Do you by any chance have any photos of the mansion?  You can FTP files directly
to the site server, ftp://yhhb@allthingsyoungstown.net - 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
brewery.

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,
AGAIN.

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,

Allan
« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 06:34:27 AM by allany2525 »