Sunday, January 4, 2009

Moraine After the War

The 1940s was a liminal era for urban form. The first two years, perhaps casting back to 1938 and 1939 was the start of a construction revival, but what form suburbia would take was still somewhat in question. Yet one could see the outlines form of what we know as “suburbia” as a place separate from the city, the great rupture between the old way of building and modern times.

After the war , in the late 1940s, this perhaps became a bit more clear.

We will move into this era with Moraine City. As we’ve seen in this post the place was starting to grow during the run-up to WWII, yet there was very little new platting.

A map of Moraine in 1948:

And a corresponding pix. This pix shows Moraine after the war, probably in 1949 or 1950, as the expansion for the Frigidaire plant is underway (this opened in1951). Note that this pix faces south, so is “upside down” from the map.

The pix labeled, showing that the interurban, though abandoned 10-11 years prior, is still a ghostly presence via the overgrown right-of-way. One can see the wartime expansion of the Frigidaire complex, as well as suburban housing expansion into Moraine City section 2 and the other Moraine plats. Note that by this time there is plenty of parking.

(you can click on the pix and they will enlarge)

A close up of the further reaches of this area. This was the south suburban frontier. One of the furthest plats was Moraine Little Farms, which dated to the 1920s and actually did see some pre-Depression construction. Note also the appearance of what is today Appleton Papers as a small industrial building out in the fields. Alexanderville still has its own identity (today it’s all but obliterated by sprawl), and a mill from the canal era still stood. One can see relics of the interurban here, but also an early accommodation of for the automobile.

The 1939 overpass over the New York Central perhaps reflected the increase in auto traffic on the Dixie Highway, coming up from West Carollton, Miamisburg and points south. These towns south of Moraine were already being brought into the suburban orbit before WWI via the interurban, and one can assume this process continued in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s with the automobile. And there was, no-doubt, an increase in cross-country travel, too.

Shifting to the east a bit one can see the South Moraine plats being built on, including the Lindbergh Boulevard area. The Slanker Plat still had houses on it, and one follow a two lane Springboro Pike out into the country, with the Moraine Center plat to the east (left) starting to see postwar construction.

Planning and construction for the automobile starts to have an impact on the landscape as rapid transit via rail had been abandoned and vehicle traffic was increasing. The first move was the 1939 railroad overpass, which also required a realignment on US 25/Dixie Drive.

Apparently sometime in the 1940s the separation of inbound (Dixe Drive) and outbound (Kettering Boulevard) traffic was made and the US 25 outbound realignment was cut through the Moraine City section 1, connecting Kettering Boulevard to Dixie Drive at the Springboro Pike intersection.

This was one way of getting a four lane divided highway. Closer in to Dayton the inbound lanes are located on the interurban ROW, but here the traffic is actually on seperate roads. This one way traffic set-up is a peculiarity of Moraine.

This was how that odd three way intersection came to be, which is today the most accident prone intersection in the county.

The End of the Old Way of Building

1940s retail/commercial construction illustrates the end of one way of city building and the start of another with the.

Moraine saw some of the last “sidewalk retail” in the Dayton area, where retail buildings are aligned to the sidewalk, not to the parking lot. Apparently the incipient “downtown Moraine” developed in the 1940s, but didn’t grow any further, and in fact lost a building since then.

Instead, one sees the start of “the strip” along the US 25 alignments and Springboro Pike. None of these survive today; they remain a ghostly presence on this pix, with their adjacent parking lots

In the late 1940s WLW-D built their TV studio out here, and the building is a premonition of the new suburban world to come. The studio is a one story big box with lots of adjacent parking. Yet construction techniques were still evolving to respond to the demand of unencumbered floor space; in this case a arched truss is used, which can be seen in the curved roof.

The US 25 extension today, two southbound lanes, looking south from Moraine City section 1 toward the Springboro Pike intersection (marked by a Waffle House sign in the distance).

Suburban Housing of the 1940s

This map shows population growth between 1933 and 1952. Most of this happened in the late 1930s, 1940s, and very early 1950s. One can see some wartime expansions and the first postwar plat, as well as the early trailer parks. Housing in this era, in Moraine, was quite utilitarian, usually variations of the cottage style.

The most extensive build-out prior to 1950 was Moraine City (and maybe Miami Shores) Moraine City Section 2 is sort of interesting as it was wedged in between Dixie Drive (northbound traffic) and Kettering Boulevard) (southbound traffic). One can see by this enlargement that MC was expanding northward, and that the land along Kettering Boulevard was being kept free of houses, as perhaps the start of a commercial strip. An early commercial building of some sort (in a quasi-deco style) is shown in the inset, showing the vesitgal memory of the old way of building in the siting: instead of a parking lot in front there is a lawn.

Moraine City Section 2 behind the old prewar foursquare

Typical houses; one story brick cottages still with period detail. We are not in the modernist ranch house era just yet.

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