Sunday, June 28, 2009

Capital Strike against Dayton

Daytonology usually doesn’t post much about partisan politics, but things are getting interesting so a brief excursion to the “paranoid style in American politics”.

What is a Capital Strike?

The concept of a “capital strike” comes from neo-Marxist theory. The basic concept is that capital (i.e the business community, including banks and investors) can go “on strike” if they don’t like a political regime, withholding investments and relocating work out of a country until resulting hard times forces the unpopular government to capitulate to the demands of capital or be voted out of office.

The concept has maybe too much of a whiff of conspiracy theory to it, but perhaps it’s more correct as a description of a set of individual uncoordinated decisions over time by individual actors holding the same or similar values, indicating both a loss of confidence and a refusal do business in a place for various reasons.

This seems to be the case in Dayton due to the lack of investment in the city and the steady drumbeat of critique. This has come to a head in recent weeks with the departure of NCR.

Business Loss of Confidence in Dayton: A Soft Capital Strike?

The Dayton Business-Journal has a front page story on the business community having issues with the city: Businesses Critical of City Efforts

It has some prominent quotes from Raj Soin, who has his headquarters at the old IBM building 1st and Ludlow, about his difficulties with the city.

Soin is not just a local businessman having problems with the city bureaucracy. He is also a heavy contributor to the Republican Party, particularly the former mayor Mike Turner. Perhaps there is also a political interest in removing the current leadership in the city?

Then there was the exclusion of the city manager, mayor, and entire commission, except Joey Williams (who is part of the business community, being the local CEO for JPMorgan Chase), from the politically connected Dayton Development Coalitions’ attempt to re-direct Strickland’s’ NCR bribe money to various econ dev things. Politically connected in that leaders of the DDC were heavy donors to GOP candidates.

One wonders if it’s the Dayton Development Coalition who’s meant by the unnamed “regional officials” in this excerpt from the D B-J article

"Regional officials acknowledge a pervasive view exists in the business community that it is hard to work with the city. They add there also is an underlying lack of confidence in city leadership, both elected and hired, to overcome the challenges that lay before it, no matter how much effort is given".

Then there are is the Dayton Daily News commentariat, with their steady attack on mayor Rhine McLin (see previous remarks at this blog), most probably politically motivated to drive up the negatives of McLin

It could be that McLin is a poor leader, but it is impossible to say due to the questionable motivations of her critics. But it is interesting that unnamed sources pretty much signaled that the business community doesn’t have confidence in the current leadership.

Which might be why there is no movement on investment in the city or any private sector support of urban regeneration except from the central area planning effort privately funded by Dr Irvin (who is usually a GOP political donor, but has contributed to McLin in the past).

It is noticeable that the only two large downtown private sector investments during the McLin era, Caresource and the announced renovation of the Arcade, are by outside businesses and investors without Dayton connections.

Local investment in the center city is minimal.

Contrast this to when a conservative Republican was mayor. During that era there was substantial involvement by the business community and other members of the local power structure in building the Shuster Center. Which proves that there are enough resources to make things happen downtown, it just required the will (and financial committment) to execute.

Separated at Birth? Suburban Louisville & the Holy Roman Empire

The political evolution of both led to colorful, jigsaw puzzle maps of minor and major political entities intertwined with each other:

Suburban Louisville:

The Holy Roman Empire:
As Voltaire famously quipped, the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire; it was (mostly) what we call today “Germany and Austria”.

The Holy Roman Empire (or HRE) consisted of a multitude of microstates of various types; counties, principalities, landgraviates, commanderies, free cities, lordships, abbacies, etc with only a few large enough or prosperous enough to have real power. The last survivors of this colorful mess are the principality of Lichtenstein and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Yet these microstates had the trappings of sovereignty; taxes, coinage, a small army.

The situation is similar in Louisville. Suburban cities come in various “classes”, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th class, depending on population, which can be quite small. Area can be small, too, with a “city” being just a few square blocks. And these cities can levy taxes and have police. And just like the minor armies of the HRE petty states, the micro-suburbs of Louisville might have a police force of one or two police cars.

The petty states had little real power. Certain legal affairs was under the Empire, adjudicated at the imperial court in Wetzlar, and a form of regional governance and representation existed via the Reichkriese (“Imperial Circles”). In Louisville infrastructure issues like water, sewer, planning and zoning, and criminal investigations were the responsibility of the county or countywide special purpose districts. The smallest micro-suburbs had little to do except keep side streets paved and collect the trash.

Which is the big difference with Dayton, as Dayton suburbs are considerably more self reliant. A lot of the things that are county-wide in Louisville are the responsibility of individual suburbs in Dayton, which are large enough to generate revenue to cover the full panoply of municipal services. Thus, city/county merger here less likely than it was in Louisville.

The Strathmoors: The Start of the Louisville Micro-suburb.

The minor suburbs of Louisville are perhaps unique in the US since very few suburbs are this small. So a brief history.

It all started in the Strathmoor area, a suburban area of the 1920s & 30s. When the city tried to annex this area after WWII, the subdivisions that made up Strathmoor decided to take advantage of the new Kentucky municipal law, and incorporated as minor cities. But they didn’t incorporate as one large suburb of “Strathmoor”, rather as smaller suburbs: Strathmoor Gardens, Strathmore Manor, Strahmoor Village, plus two other British-sounding names, Kingsley and Wellington. And some plats didn’t incorporate at all, and were annexed by Louisville.

This is quite a bit different than what happened in Dayton during the same area. At that time Southern Hills was investigating incorporation to avoid annexation by Dayton. Instead of incorporating as one smaller suburb of Southern Hills (which would have been the size of Oakwood), they followed their consultants recommendation and attempted to incorporate all of Van Buren Township as one big super-suburb, which became the model for future suburban incorporations and mergers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Barriers to Regionalism

The Dayton Business Journal has some extensive reportage on regionalization issue due to a recent panel discussion hosted by the D B-J. There will be another panel discussion about Southwest Ohio regional economy in July.

There was also an D B-J editorial on the topic, essentially endorsing some form of regional government.

The event occasioned some comment over at the Dayton Most Metero regionalism subforum, which is probably the best online place to have an informed discussion on the subject (see also the last few posts on the Akron/Chattanooga/Louisville economic development thread, also at DMM).

The D B-J mentioned two previous looks at regionalization, by the Dayton Development Coalition: one in 2006 and another in 2007.

Barriers identified in the 2006 study were:

1. lack of unity between the races
2. fear of higher taxes
3. minorities afraid of losing power and fair represenatation
4. fear of the spread of poverty
5. fear of losing power in large government
6. voters remaining unaware of regional combination attempts.

The D B-J goes on to say that the 2007 identified some additional barriers:

1. the general perception of Dayton city
3. the economic state of Dayton (the article didn't clarify if this was the city or the entire area)
2. competition between suburbs
3. transitory nature of government officials
4. opposition from affluent suburbs because of costs and "carrying" other communities.

It seems the barriers to conventional city/county merger form of metropolitan government are insurmountable in this area, though it is heartening to see Joey Williams and Dan Foley taking the lead on the issue (from the political side). Yet, the local business community seems to be finally getting behind the concept, if the Business-Journal interest is any indication. Still, no clear champions have surfaced from the private sector to really push the issue, which is in itself a big local weakness.

Since governmental merger is a non-starter, perhaps people need to get creative and look at different approaches at regionalization. Since the big regional concern is economic development...the weak local economy, which crosses city and suburban boundaries...that should be were regional efforts should concentrate, since it is the one area were people agree something needs to be done.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dayton @ Columbus Pride '09

Yer humble host has been going to the Columbus Gay Pride Parade since 1988, which was his first Pride parade.

That parade ended at the Statehouse and was subject to in-your-face counterprotests all along the route by groups of local fundamentalists, who had no conpunction about attempting to engage the paraders in debate over Scripture.

This parade was the 7th. The first Cols parade in 1981 had marchers with paper bags over their heads for fear of being indentified. Apparently Columbus was quite homophobic. In fact there are anecdotes about Columbus gays visiting Dayton for nightlife since they weren't subject to police harrassment at the bars in Dayton the way they were in Columbus.

Columbus Pride morphs into Ohio Pride

But apparently repression pushed organization. The local Columbus gay community pushed the gay rights issue, leading to anti-discrimination laws and the community becoming integrated into the local political scene to some extent. Since the anti-gay climate thawed in Columbus earlier than elsewhere in the state Columbus became a sort of statewide gay pride celebration. The central location of Columbus helped, too.

The Columbus gay pride parade started to draw spectators....and participants...from across the state. Occasionally contingents from Dayton marched in the parade, like the gay Catholic group Dignity and the Lesbian and Gay Center. And one would see contingents from Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and smaller places like Zanesville.

Ohio Pride back to Columbus Pride.

But as things became more tolerant and local gay communities became more organized local Pride events arose beyond Columbus. Cleveland and Cincinnati now have their own Pride events (Cleveland probably is the big event for Akron, Youngstown, Elyria and Lorain as much as Cleveland proper). Dayton started having a public event a few years ago (though had a private Pride Dinner since the late 1980s).

So Columbus has become more of a local event than it was in the, say, 1990s. Yet there is still some out-of-town presence, such as marching bands from Cincinnati and Indianapolis (Columbus' unofficial sister city). There was a bit of Dayton, to, as Joe Lacey, the school board member, was marching with the gay Democrats (no gay Republicans this time, but the Libertarians marched). And Masque had their strech limo accompanied by their bar staff, probably.

And that was about it.

Yet Columbus Pride still draws thousands, lining the parade route as it passes from the State House to Gooddale Park in the Short North, who join in and follow the parade into the park.

So it's still one of the big gay celebrations of the Midwest.

Dayton Art Belt

Vandalizing buildings with dumb/bad tagging is one thing (even if it takes some daring urbex penetrations to do the work). Taking graffti to a new level is another

And that is what is being proposed by one set of older taggers. The DDN reports:

"....Though the secluded lot surrounded by warehouses was littered with broken glass, soiled mattresses and refuse, what “RAC Mount” (an artistic alias) and the graffiti crew ROT saw was a canvas.

Mount, 32, and the crew rented the lot, secured it and removed much of the rubbish. The warehouse walls around it are slowly emerging graffiti masterpieces.

It’s our private outdoor gallery,” Mount said. “Eventually, we want to bring peoplei to view it, but we’re not there yet.”....

...Mount and members of ROT (Reign of Terror) hope to one day build an art belt of legal graffiti murals around the Dayton area. With that in mind, the crew is looking for property owners willing to let them paint on exterior building walls. The crew can be contacted via email at:

The DDN also provided this photo spread of legal graffitti.

Yer humble host prefers old-school realism style murals....these are too abstract. But this is a mere matter of taste. Within the abstract, stylized, yet colorful aesthetic of graffiti art these work. One could really get into a set of outdoor graffit-art spaces around the city---the proposed art belt.. This would actually be a bit edgier and one-of-a-kind than traditional urban wall murals like the work of Judy Baca and the floodwall murals found in Ohio river towns.

So yeah, let's hope the ROT gets some support and enquiries on their project.

Making Dayton City look More "Ghetto" Than it Really Is.

Todays article at the DDN revealed something interesting about the graffiti vanalism wave that is spreading across the city: It's being done by suburbanites. Suburbanites from the affluent suburbia between Dayton and Cincinnatti.

It's not like the city isn't already shabby and run-down enough, now some suburbanites feel they have to make it look even worse, in the cause of copying a trend from elsewhere. Perhaps a manifestation of the whigger phenomenon, where white suburban kids copy inner city black cultural styles and speech forms. Except in Dayton the inner city blacks apparently do not deface their city with such aggressive graffiti....since we havn't seen much of this until the recent tagging wave.

And it might be why one see's most of this stuff on the east side of Dayton city.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dayton & Troy @ Chambersburg/Murlin Heights

Chambersburg was an early village on the New Troy Pike. It was platted in 1830 and apparently did collect some houses and such.

The Dayton & Troy ran on private ROW, but moved to street-running through pre-existing settlements. In this case the line bypassed the town. And the line had two stations on either side of the bypass, named Murlin Heights, after the traffic manager.

The only other place in the Miami Valley were something similar happened was at New Lebanon, where another interurban (with the same investor, Valentine Winters) bypassed the town and used a different name for the station.

The interurban ROW still appears on the property maps. And there are still traces of the line on the ground , too, via property lines and various subtle features of the landscape.

What's not evident is the loop for the local passenger service that was supposed to be here.

One the south side of Murlin Heights (south of Chambersburg/Little York Road), one can see a tree line and what looks like a road. Perhaps the route of the old roadbed and right of way?

On the north side of Murlin Heights the vegitation seems to follow the line of the curve of the ROW as heads back to following Old Troy Pike, or Dixie Drive.
And in the mid-section, maybe more as property lines, though one can see a small tree line that marks the old roadbed a bit clearer in the midsection of village.

But maybe not much of a village anymore. By the looks of the aeriel pix most of the old side streets of the plat have been vacated and the original structures replaced by smallish commercial things with the predictable parking lot in front. Readers familiar with mostly intact rural villages of the Miami Valley will recall that structures are usually much closer to the roads and streets, particularly those of antebellum provenance.

There are a few structures on site that do indicate commuter traffic as they follow the bungalow and foursquare typologies popular during the interurban era Plus a few small side-street plats showing real estate speculation was occuring here prior to the Depression.

The Dayton & Troy/Lima Route Interurban Railroad

Built in 1901 and closed in 1932 for a good 30 years of operation. The D & T drove the development of the Northridge area, and also suburban development for points north.
The builders were the Clegg family (local industrialists and real estate speculators) and Valentine Winters (a banker who was involved with other traction lines out of Dayton).

It's unclear where the stops were. The map below is a best guess based on available sources. There were three stops in Vandalia, at least two in Chambersburg, renamed Murlin Heights, after the traffic director of the D&T. There was also a stop at the cematary between Murlin Heights and Stop Eight.

And the seven stops in Northridge + one in Dayton at the old McCook Field.

The line also ran a local service as far as Murlin Heights/Chambersburg, were there was a turn-around loop. Presumably this local made more frequent stops to serve the plats that made up Northridge.

The line was a mix of single and long runs of double track. Suprsingly the section through Northridge wasn't double-tracked as there is an account of a grisly accident on single track: A fast moving northbound regular train missed signal or train order, rammed a stopped local car and partially telescoping it, resulting in injurys and deaths.

D & T Rolling Stock

The alpha and omega of the passenger equipment. Top image is an early Barney & Smith car (made in Dayton) from 1902. As one can see this resembled standard railroad passenger coaches, as did most early interurban equipment. Dayton-based B&S used to specialize in passenger cars, but moved into interurban busines, which kept it alive into the 20th century.

The bottom car was the last passenger equipment bought by the D&T. Built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1929, it was nearly the last word on interurban design. Built more like a streetcar, with the front and rear folding doors and lower floorboard. It looks fast, and had a eye-catching orange and maroon color scheme.

Electric Fast Freight

Most interurbans had some freight buiness, usually "less than carload", or LCL, freight. These were usually handled by baggage compartments or "box motors", like the car below. Sort of a powered freight car.

The D&T, however, did generate substantial freight business, operated on a "just-in-time" basis via trains scheduled on demand. So the line also had a fleet of freight cars, one shown in the lower pic. D&T line had two Dayton freight houses, one downtown (still standing about a block north of the 2nd Street Market), and the other off Keowee Street. At the peak the D&T handled about 500K tons of freight daily. Freight service declined after 1926, when PUCO started to grant long distance trucking franchises.

More Passenger Equipment.

The upper car is a longer passenger car than the early Barney & Smith equipment. D&T also had a short-lived sleeping car service since trains did eventually go north to Toledo, and a dining car.

Though we've seen single cars so far, the D & T was prepared to run multi-car trains. The line bought a number of passenger coaches from the New Haven railroad to supplement its powered equipment. Apparently steam road and interurban passenger equipment was least in the early days.

Dayton & Troy and Early Northridge Suburbia.

The following map shows the area of the very first suburban plats along New Troy Pike, the one most likely generated as by the arrival of the interurban, and how the platting worked around the interurban.

The line ran on the west side of New Troy Pike. Most plats on that side accomodated the line by running a frontage road paralleling the right of way, resulting in the line running down a sort of median between the frontage road and Troy Pike.

The two official stops were "Stop 3" at Ridge Avenue, and "Stop 4" at Ebenezer (intersection of Frederick Pike). The local service might have been more informal stops, as the ones shown here don't look all that convenient for some of the plats.

Coming soon, a closer look at Neff Park and the northern sections of Garden City.

(pix are from Daves' Railpix, which has good documentation for the other Dayton interurbans and streetcar companies)

Thursday, June 18, 2009


1 Samuel 7-12: Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

And that is the source of the old place name on the New Troy Pike. First given to the oldest congregation and church in Northridge, the old Ebenezer Methodist Church. But later expanded to then entire crossroads area, and eventually the school district that was formed in the early 1920s.

The congreation formed up in the years after the War of 1812. The first church was a log and clapboard structure on what is now the northwest corner of the Dixe Drive/Frederick Pike intersection.

In 1860 a replacement church was built on the southwest corner of the intersection, and this church still stands today.

Here is the church when it was still a church, in the background with the belfry. In the foreground is the station for the Dayton & Troy interurban railroad. One can see the semaphore signal and the station name board.

Roughly the same scene today. The interurban tracks are gone and New Troy Pike is widened todays Dixie Highway. The old church still stands but is now a business.

Looking at the old Ebenezer Church from a different angle. One can see the tall windows that one would expect for the sanctuary.

The best source for Northridge history, "Life on the Ridge" (put together by Northridge HS students as a class project) says one of the early schools was located here, and is still standing. This might be it. Built in the 1880s to serve the farming community of this part of Harrison Township.

As we've seen in a prior post the New Troy Pike corridor was the site of early suburbanization due to the interurban. Apparently population grew enough to warrant a replacement for the old Ebenezer church of 1860. In 1919 the new church opened, and the congregation renamed itself the Victory Methodist Church. Apparently this was double meaning. Victory over sin and also victory in World War I, which had ended in the previous year.

The new building was this quasi-English gothic affair done up in random rubble stone.

And Victory Methodist is still there today, but in expanded form. A landmark on the Dixie strip from the early days of suburbia.

(on edit, some modern images of the church, showing the addition and some adjacent prewar housing)

The Villages of North Clayton- bankrupt!

Dayton's only true New Urbanist subdivision, Villages of North Clayton, is being taken to bankruptcy court"

$6 Million Owed, Bank Wants to Foreclose

This sounds a lot like Newfields. The parallels are so close: Innovative (for its time) multi-use developement proposed for the north/northwest suburbs but goes belly-up due to a bad economy and maybe a bad location (slow-growth side of town).

I guess the question would be if this would have been in Greene or Warren County would it have faired better? There is Stonehill Village out beyond Beavercreek, that is trying to do some more innovative site planning, but as of now it's not really as New Urbanist as the Villages of North Clayton.

I guess add this the list of innovative Dayton-area projects that went nowhere.

(tip of the hat to commentor "Joe" who provided the DDN article info)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kettering Tower Facing Foreclosure: Symbolic...

...of a few things, actually.

The Failure of Dayton: Skyscrapers are totemic structures, and the tallest building in a city usually has some signifigance, the home to the major bank or corporation or a personal statement by a sucessful local buisnessman. Thus the bankruptcy of the Kettering Tower, the tallest building on the skyline, is a nice visual shorthand for the economic and social failure (or, at best, stagnation) of the Dayton region.

The Death of Downtown: The Kettering Tower's vacancy rate was not reported. But we do known that the downtown vacancy rate is around 30%-40%...and thats just the buildings that are actually still on the market. Very few businesses and proffessionals want to locate downtown so no one to lease to. Recall that skyscrapers exist mainly for economic reasons, that land prices and demand for space is so high that it makes economic sense to go "up". In downtown Dayton the tendancy isn't to go "up" anymore but to go "parking lot" or grassy field. The latest "market signal" for a large downtown property was the Arcade auction, sold to a single bidder for around $600,000 - $700,000.

The Decline of the Skyscraper: Maybe not that popular of a building type anymore? It seems the campus concept and midrise/lowrise construction is more popular for office space in the smaller metro areas. Form follows finance and maybe tall buildings dont make financial sense in certain markets.

It should be noted that the Kettering Tower is not foreclosed yet. The court has appointed a reciever, which is CB Richard Ellis. The double irony is the CBRE is the agent for NCR's sale of their former corporate HQ, and was the agent (along with Miller Valentine) for the 2005 sale of the tower by the Kettering Trust to the currrent owners (a NY investment partnership).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Negative DDN Comment of the Week: "Indian Country"

The commentariat at the DDN can either be a source of anger and frustration, but it can also be a source of entertainment. Usually in the "Jerry Springer Show" sense of entertainment, but sometimes comments rise about the norm and show a bit more wit.

I like this one as it illustrates the Wright-Patterson AFB employees perspective (well, at leat one employee but (s)he is probably representative. Cute reference to Indian County, but one wonders how one drives from Warren County through Dayton to the base.

Well ‘tl’, this is just entertainment for me. I live down in Warren county and work at WPAFB. So I only have to drive briefly through ‘Indian country’ to go to and from work. I avoid Dayton like the plague it is. Until the voters in Dayton proper vote out the current regime, nothing can be done about the situation. And I cannot vote in Dayton, being a non-resident. I can only shake my head in wonder over it all.

The Big Paw
2009-06-16 12:45:44.6

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Strickland's NCR Money In Play: Some Questions & Comments

There is some good and not-so-good reporting by the DDN in the last few days, lifting the veil a bit on things work, or don’t work, in this area. Particularly this article, which follows up on some earlier news.

The basic outline is that Srickland had made that $30M offer to NCR to stay in Dayton, and this NCR money may still be on the table.

Using Strickland's NCR Money to Subsidize Austin Road Site Development

Montgomery County, the Dayton Development Coalition and the Chamber of Commerce are making play for the money on behalf certain job creation/economic development initiatives, one of which is some unspecified “infrastructure” development at Austin Road.

Past reports on DDC earmark requests suggest that this may be to subsidize site development of RG Properties “Innovation Point” at the interchange, not for actual road work on Austin, Byers, or Springboro Pike. The cost in the request to Strickland is $6M, just a bit off from the $6.7M in the earmark request, so its reasonable to assume the money if for the same or similar things.

This is where the reporting fails, as we don’t known what is being done under the generic term “infrastructure”. Is it corporate welfare for RG Properties, or is it true public works stuff on state and county highways?

The County/DDC/CoC Plan and Dayton City Officials

The other juicy tidbit in this and a previous article is how Dayton city government (the commission and manager) were shut-out of the play. So far we’ve read that the mayor and city manager were not aware of the letter proposing new plans for the money, or maybe aware and not having time to comment, as we see Rashad Young chose his words carefully

Dayton City Manger Rashad Young said he had no opportunity to review or offer input on strategies outlined in the Dayton Region Rapid Response Economic Development Recovery Plan.

Maybe not a big deal since this seems to be a county/DDC/CoC intiative. Except there’s more.

What wasn’t reported was that at least one other commission was aware of this initiative. That would be Joey Williams, since his signature is actually on the letter to Strickland. This opens up even more questions:

First: Why was Joey Williams involved in the first place if this was a county proposal?

Second: Why didn’t Joey Williams bring this initiative to the attention of at least his city manager?

Third : What about Nan Waley and Matt Joseph? Totally out of the loop, or not?

So, a place where one would like to see some follow-up reporting.

The article goes on to quote and paraphrase county commissioner Dan Foley:

“Everybody knows the city needs all of our attention,” said Foley, adding county commissioners must be champions for all communities in the county.

Foley is quite correct, Dayton is just one of many incorporated communities in the county (and there are still large areas of unincorporated land, rural and suburban), and would benefit as much as any other locality from a generalized economic development initiative.

The Return of Revenue Sharing?

And there’s even more. A bullet point in the article notes:

Strategy will be developed for the city of Dayton to benefit from the job growth associated with this plan even if the new jobs created aren’t located in the city.

This sounds a lot like the revenue-sharing mitigations proposed to get Dayton city government on-board for the construction of I-675 back in the 1970s. So, interesting stuff going down in the wake of the NCR news. Lets hope Strickland is still good for that $30M.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Platting Northridge

Northridge is really a collection of separate developments. Almost all of them were platted before 1930. So what appears as a generic postwar suburban strip dates from an earlier era.

19th Century Land Subdivision & Ownership

The pre-history of Northridge was as farmland, without much in the way of villages. There were features from the turnpike era, such as a toll house at the intersection of the New Troy and Frederick Pike and the “Four Mile House”, which apparently was a coaching inn or perhaps a place to change horses for stagecoaches. Recall that this turnpike was in competition with the canal and the “Old Troy Pike” for northbound traffic (at least before the railroad).

The only notable aspect of this landscape were the farms owned by a Roma band. Roma or Rom is the proper name for gypsy, and this was the land apparently owned or associated with the Dayton gypsies, who came to America from England, not eastern or central Europe. Their story can be found here: When Dayton Was Home to the Gypsies

An interesting feature of property division are the small farms along what is today Needmore Road the ownership of what later became Deweese Parkway and Triangle Park by a member of the Mead family.

Not too much change by 1895, which is about six years before the interurban line came through. One should note that Ebenezer church, which became a place name for the Fredrick & New Troy Pike intersection, is a rare 19th survivor: the church still stands.

And the road that was later to become Ridge Avenue appears, connecting New Troy Pike to Main Street what was then the northern suburbs of Dayton.

20th Century Developments.


The interurban railroad came through this area in 1901 and apparently sparked some suburbanization, because by 1910 in 1923 a local rural school district was organized for Harrison Township between the Stillwater and Great Miami, the Ebenezer district, taking its name from the crossroad settlement.

By 1915 the first subdivisions or property speculations appear. These probably were driven by the interurban making commuting possible so would be the true “interurban suburbs”.

Neff Park: on both side of New Troy Pike

Fieldston: (or Fieldstone) a small plat on the south side of Ridge Avenue

Garden City: In multiple sections north and south of the Neff Park plats. The first section developed was the southern property, followed by multiple sections to the north.

S.H. Site Company: Associated with Garden City, this was perhaps land held in speculation.

One can also see the channel realignment of the Great Miami, eliminating a an oxbow.


Land development and speculation accelerates going into the Roaring 20s. One would like to know when the New Troy Pike was paved, as this would be an impetus to development, perhaps more signifigant than the interurban due the increase in auto ownership. Also, by 1920, New Troy Pike had become part of the cross-country Dixie Highway.

Ome Gardens & the Ensley Plat: Along the river to is the big Ome Gardens plat (a portion which would be later replatted as Embury Park). At the intersection of Wagner Ford Road and New Troy was the Ensley Plat.

East Riverdale: A portion of Neff Park was renamed (replatted?) as East Riverdale.

Needmore: The first Needmore plat is on the south side of Needmore Road.

Brenner Realty Company: One of the old Roma farms is aquired by the Brenner Realty Company, who also owned the property on the northeast corner of Needmore and New Troy Pike. J.W. Brenner shown as owning property along the south side of Needmore, too, directly east of the Needmore plat. This land might have been just a farm at the time, not yet a speculation.

In 1920 the name Deweese first appears: RW Deweese owning a quarter section at the bend of Ridge Avenue, west of Neff Park.

Mid 1920s

The heyday of subdivision activity in Northridge.

Harrison Terrace: Another 19th century Roma farm subdivided. This was probably the northernmost plat, aside from ribbon development, before hitting Murlin Heights.

Dixie Heights: The Brenner Realty speculation, platted and named after the Dixie Highway. One wonder if by this time it was the automobile driving development since the plat is named after a highway.

Needmore addition: the Brenner property at the intersection of Needmore and Dixie Highway becomes an expansion of the Neemore tract.

Woodland Hills: The big Funk property on a quarter section east of the upper Garden City plats is platted as Woodland Hills. This is really two plats; Woodland Hills and, more in the valley, Woodland Hills Park. This division is actually quite evident today in the street plan.

Fieldston addition: A part of the Deweese property at the bend in Ridge Avenue west of Neff Park, is subdivided.

Fieldston Downs: Farmland south of Garden City between Dixie and Ridge is subdivided. This property had remained mostly intact since the 19th century.

Ensley Executors: Apparently to settle the estate of a dead farmer? The last Ensley property gets subdivided. Refer to the first map in this series and note that this family held extensive landholdings in the 19th century. This parcel was the last of those.

Wrapping up the Roaring 20s: Platted by 1930

Northridge was mostly platted-out by the onset of the Depression. There were a few plats added before the Crash.

Outing Park: This was the Brenner property east of Needmore, on the south side of Needmore Road. One can guess at the name. Perhaps to take an outing into the country to a picnic grove or some such place. Or perhaps an outing to look at lots in the new plats surrounding Dayton, like this one.

Brenner Realty Plat: Brenner acquired the last former Roma farm and platted it. Though the plat map doesn’t show a name this was eventually recorded as the Home Site plat (the name in the auditors’ records).

Jensvold Plat: A small plat east of the eastern part of Neff Park, off Maple Grove Avenue.

Eagles Park: Not a plat, but apparently a picnic grove or some other recreation area run by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, at the intersection of Wagner Ford and Dixie Highway/New Troy Pike.

There were some very small one street plats west of Dixie/New Troy, but they are not shown here. Most of the development seemed to be east of Dixie/New Troy north of the Neff Park developments at Ridge Avenue.

Property Fragmentation and Ribbon Development

We’ve seen property in certain areas was already fairly fragmented before suburbanization started. The process just accelerated with the advent of the interurban and later the automobile.

To illustrate here is the 1920 map of Northridge, in two sections, with the 1895 property lines drawn over in yellow. One can see how ribbon subdivision along Dixie Highway/New Troy Pike was already occurring via small parcels being sudivided further into large house lots. This was occuring on the side roads, too.

Land ownership and subdivision was becoming finer grained, perhaps due to splitting up property for speculation, or for early versions of hobby farms.

The Situation in 1930: Plats to Streets

The obvious plats and land in speculation shaded in yellow on this early1930s property ownership map, illustrating the mix of plats, smallholdings and ribbon development that characterized the area, as “first draft” of the automobile suburbia that was to dominate after depression and war.

There was no new development here until Marianne Country Estates of the 1940s (we’ll see that later). One notes that “Stop Eight” had become a place name by this time.

From around the same time as the property ownership map comes this street map. This was probably the first street map to show Northridge in full, yet not the place name just yet. Northridge was named in the early 1930s, as a contest for school kids to rename the Ebenezer school district. The members of the district voted on the name at a mass meeting

To some degree these were ghost subdivisions during the Depression, particularly in the northernmost plats, due to the collapse of homebuilding. Build-out happened after 1939, with the wartime boom and postwar suburban expansion.

The interurban ceased operations in 1932, a fitting coda for this era. The known interurban stops are shown as red circles. There is a missing one since there were seven north of the river.

We’ll take a brief look at the interurban next.

(a note on viewing the maps: to view detail mouse over the map and click, and the maps will enlarge. To go back to the blog hit your browsers 'back' button)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dayton & Suburban Crime: Looking at the FBI Report

Recent exchanges on the Esrati blog comments comparing city vs. suburban crime piques interest as to the question.

Generalizations that the city has just as much crime as the suburbs was challenged via a comparison from Sperlings Best Places, which itself was supposedly derived from the FBI unified crime reports. The FBI report for Ohio (not all cities are shown) for 2007 is here.

So let's go to the source. First off, when surfing into the FBI site there is a big fat warning statement about doing comparisons. A good point is that one police department might be more aggressive than another, and crime does go unreported. Demographs and the nature of the jurisdiction also plays into the picture.

With that in mind lets go ahead an compare anyway. But not Dayton to it's suburbs. Let's do an apples to apples comparison of Dayton to other big cities in Ohio: The three Cs plus Akron, Toledo, and Youngstown.

The way this was done was very simple. Divide the population by number of crimes reported. So higher numbers mean crimes are fewer per person, or rarer and lower numbers means crimes are more common.

As one can see Dayton has a lower number, indicating a higher density of property crimes. In fact it is in worse shape than some larger cities for this crime category.

Next, looking at violent crime, Dayton is more in the middle. Cleveland is the worst in this category.
Suburban Crime

The FBI stats do not show all localities. For example places like Trotwood, Moraine, Clayton, and Springboro are missing from the crime report. But there are enough suburbs shown to provide a glimpse of patterns of property crime (the FBI report breaks this down to some detail, to burglery, larceny, auto theft, etc).

Dayton is thrown in as a benchmark and to prove that it still has a higher property crime density than all the suburban jurisdictions shown. But it is interesting to see Beavercreek not being especially free of this type of crime, ranking in between Englewood and Huber Heights.

The worst suburbs for property crime (by this measure) are Xenia, Riverside, Miamisburg, Fairborn, and West Carollton. The best, or the ones with the lowest density of property crime are Germantown, New Lebanon, Bellbrook, Sugarcreek Township and German Township.

It's nice to see Germantown and German Township on this list as low crime areas as it confirms a hunch yer humble host had about these places as great (and safe) places to live.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Transportation Routes North

Setting out a framework for "North": the development of the Vandalia/Butler Twp/Northridge area as a transportation corridor into and out from Dayton. What will be shown is ground transportation, but the airport will be acknowleged, too.

Early Improvements

The first transportation routes were the rivers, via canoe, and perhaps some indian trails or old pioneer roads. The first improved transportation was the canal extension north, duing the early 1830s, and the turnpike construction, also during the 1830s. Most of this was on a north-south orientation. There were two turnpikes to Troy, the one shown here and one to the east of the Great Miami running through todays Huber Heights, once known as the Staunton Road (after the first Miami County seat).

The exception to the north-south orientation was the famous National Road, heading east-west, as an early long-distance road crossing state lines. The early turnpikes didn't extend beyond country villages or the county seat

The Railroad Era

The 185os was the boom era in railroad construction. The first (and only) railroad north was chartered in 1851 as the Dayton & Michigan, but construction was delayed, with the line being finished first in 1859. Shortly therafter it was leased in perpetuity by the Cincinnati, Hamilton, & Dayton (the second railroad to enter Dayton) and CH&D itself was aquired by the Baltimore & Ohio in 1917 (eventually to become the CSX).

This line had only two stations in the area, both well away from the city, so no commuter traffic developed. The line was also distant from the turnpikes, so two stations served the two turnpike villages: Tadmor for Vandalia and Johnsons Station for Chambersburg.

Interurban Interlude

The interurban was a railroad of sorts, but was powered by electricity rather than steam, and interurban lines were usually short haul regional railroads. They differed at first from streetcars as the equipment was more similar to convetional railroad cars. Dayton was a major center for interurban lines, which radiated out from the city, connecting up with lines extending from other places (like Lima, Toledo and Indianapolis).

The line running north, The Dayton & Troy, opened in 1901 and eventually connected through Lima to Toledo. The interurban was the first impetus to suburban development as it permitted quick and frequent service into Dayton and, unlike the mainline railroad, had frequent stops, which are shown here.

The eighth stop gave its name to a local road and the collection of suburban plats that grew up around the stops is known today as Northridge.

Not shown on the map was the "local" commuter service that ended in a loop at Chambersburg, which was given the more suburban sounding name of Murlin Heights.

The First Automobile Routes

Interurbans overlapped with automobiles. As auto ownership took off in the 'teens and especially the 'twenties interurban use declined and eventually the Dayton & Troy closed in 1932 (after a bridge collapse that cost too much to fix).

Paved roads facilated auto travel, as did the first long-distance highways. The first cross country highways were named highways, like the Lincoln Highway. The named highway through Dayton was the eastern leg of the Dixie Highway, intended to connect Florida and the South with the Midwest. The Dixie Highway route followed the Troy Pike into Dayton (which was renamed Dixie Drive).

After the mid 1920s the numbered cross-country US Highways came into being, with US 25 supplanting the Dixie Highway and the old National Road becoming US 40. The US Highways was the first cross-country highway system.

During this era air travel was becoming viable. A private flying field was established on the flatlands northwest of Vandalia in 1928-1929. This early airport apparently was not too busy, as Dayton made it into Ripley's Believe it Or Not: "The Birthplace of Aviation doesn't have a municiple airport".

The field was transferred to the city of Dayton in 1934-1936. WPA airfield pavement improvements in the 1930s led to the first scheduled passenger air service starting in 1936 with three daily flights from the predecessor of TWA.

Limited Access

During WWII the improved airfield was expanded and converted to military use, and a defense plant was constrcucted to the east, across US 25. This probably drove the demand for a easier way to get to Vandalia, bypassing the congested Northridge area. The result was the 'super-highway', Dayton's first limited access divided highway. The "super" did have at-grade intersections, so it wasn't a true grade seperated expressway like we know today. It was probably like OH 4 beyond Huffman Dam, with at-grade crossovers and frontage roads.

The "super" apparently dead-ended at US 40 (allowing cross-country traffic to drop into the city from that highway). On the Dayton side it ended at a traffic circle, which was probably one of the very few in the Midwest on a major highway.

The Interstate Era

Though it looks a bit isolated, the super-highway might have been part of a larger plan. During the war there was planning for a national system of expressways, which was the forerunner of the interstate system. So the planners of the 1940s might have been thinking ahead when they set the alignment of this highway.

By 1957 the interstate highway act was passed and the system was under construction. The old "super" was connected north to Toledo and Detroit and south (during the 1960s) into downtown Dayton and named I-75. A new freeway, I-70, was built paralleling National Road. The intersection was a classic cloverleaf interchange.

An unusual feature of I-75 was that the old "super-highway" remained a quasi-expressway after the the completion of the northern and southern extensions, with dangerous at-grade intersections (with and without stoplights) between the cloverleaf and the the traffic circle exit. This was only corrected in the early 1970s, say 1970-71-72, when full grade seperation was achieved.

In 1974 the old US 25 designation north of Cincinnati was retired.

Interurban Suburbia and Suburbanizing Industry

Coming up: A look at development from the interurban era in Northridge and the expansion of industrial Dayton north along I-75 after 1970.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Peachtree City Today: The Golf Cart Community

Peachtree City was planned for 80,000, but this was revised later to about 50,000-40,000, which means it is around the same size planned for Newfields.

Today's street map looks pretty generically first.

(the purple is available industrial/office land).

The zoning and plat map tells a different story, showing how the periphery is zoned as large lot housing, whith higher density subdivisions and multifamily in the center. And the open space system winds through the development following creeks and watecourses. One greenway seperaates the housing from the industrial park, as in the original plan.
Greenways are nice, but whats even nicer is that they function as transportation corridors, being the route of a paved pathwy system spidering through Peachtree City.
(color coding on the map show various neighborhood "villages).

A close-up of one "village" showing the path system in red, and the path system drawn over an aerial of the same area; what appears to be a generic (albeit considerably better planned) suburban landscape from the air has a secondary transporation system linking subdivisions, condo complexes, schools, and shopping....

...meaning one is not tied to the car. In Peachtree City the alternative transport is not the bike (though these probably exist, too) but the golf cart.

The path system is really a network of cart paths, some with grade seperation.
And the carts are used for more than just golf. Two pix showing dedicated golf cart parking at a restaurant....
....and a school. Presumably one can also take a cart shopping or to work.

This might sound corny, but golf carts are actuallly a green/sustainable way of doing personal transport. Golf carts eliminate the need for a car for short trips and errands, thus reducing air pollution and traffic congestion. Golf carts also solve some of the passenger/hauling issues that one would have with a bike.

You have to wonder why more suburbs aren't built this way, since the Peachtree City model is such an appealing...and sucessfull...concept.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Peachtree City: "Suburban Living at its Finest"

The NCR move brings three Georgia places to our attention.

1. Columbus, the small industrial city 100 miles south of Atlanta on the Alabama line

2. Duluth, in suburban Gwinnett County, northwest of Altanta

3. Peachtree City, southwest of Altanta

Peachtree City is the most interesting, as it's a rare example of a sucessfull attempt at creating a new town.

Why a sucess? Perhaps the location. The land was bought because of all the areas around Atlanta in the 1950s Fayette County land was the cheapest. But the site was also close to Hartsfield airport during an era when Atlanta was developing into a major regional air hub.

So an easy commute for people and business needing to be close to the airport. The obvious ones would be pilots and others directly connected to aviation, but also a good location for what NCR wants to put here, which is a training center and customer service operations.

Suburban Living at its Finest

This was the title of a section in the 1957 prospectus for Peachtree City. And this would be very fine indeed as this was one of the first mixed-use planned postwar suburban communities. The only two predecessors that come to mind are Park Forest, south of Chicago and Lakewood, near Long Beach, California. Niether of these approach Peachtree City in sophistication.

And, at 1957, this scheme is well before the iconic 1960s-era new communities of Columbia, Reston, and Irvine. Yet it was not developed or planned by outsiders, nor was it subsidized by the government (as in the later new towns). Peachtree City was a totally home-grown private sector project by Georgia developers and designers (with some site planning contributions from an emigre German-Swiss designer working for a golf-course desgn firm).

A quick look at the overview (north to the right) shows a commercial and office center clustered around a lake, with residential areas (in yellow) strung out to the south, seperated by belts of open space along creeks and watercourses and with little convenience shopping areas.

An industrial park is arranged around a railroad and highway, but seperated from the residential areas by more greenbelts.

A close-up of, perhaps, Phase I, showing how generous open space belts and corridors seperate the various land-use functions, but also how things sort of cluster around the lake and highway.

A birds eye view of the proposed town center on the lake, and some residential areas, also showing the start of the industrial and office park at the upper part of the image.
This rendering is rather fetching. One notes that this plan has a church as the centerpiece of the composition on the lake, perhaps a nod to the more observant regional religous culture of Dixie. The retail (?) along the lake are a loose interpretation of the Sarasota School of modernism (the South did have a little-known regional take on modern design).

Interesting to see a forerunner of Reston's Lake Anne Village, proposed 9 years earlier in the exurbs of Atlanta.

And, finally, the industrial park. One notes here the mix of grade seperated railroad and highway access, what we might call"multi-modal logistics" today. Back then railroads where still in the carload freight business (vs the bulk hauling they do today), puling boxcars up to factories on industrial sidings.

A private airport is proposed at the upper right hand corner.

Peachtree City, Dayton, and Failure to Execute.

Dayton could have had a Peachtree City in Don Hubers' failed Newfields project. In fact there are a lot of parallels, especially the open space system, the mixed-use concept, and the choice of a site in an area with lower property values but still somewhat close to the city.

The difference was, of course, a mix of timing and economic capacity. Newfields came online during an era of economic difficulty and regional stagnation. Peachtree City was at the edge of a booming metropolitan area, near an airport that was becoming a major US air hub for both domestic and international travel.

Next, Daytonlogy will take a quick look at modern Peachtree City.