Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall Almanac (First Week)

Laden Autumn here I stand
Worn of heart, and weak of hand:
Nought but rest seems good to me,
Speak the word that sets me free.
--William Morris

Starting out the first week of the Daytonlogy Fall Almanac, a bit of verse from the great reformer William Morris, and an image from Woodland Cemetary. I will return here every Sunday to track the changes in the season, the changing trees and changing light (but might add a few more pix of other places).

Being a numbers guy, yer humble host has the obligatory graphs, temprature, sunrise and sunset. I want to do a better job with sky conditions, though....

..interesting that the Naval Observatory (my source for the astronomical data) has times for twilight, too. Looks we are still having somewhat longer light evenings, but its noticeable that the light is getting less.

Weather, last week seemed like the lingering summer, but the nights are cooler now, dropping to around 50 once. Just the last few days though, temps have dropped below 80, and today seemed a bit cooler (not on the chart), maybe a bit less humid.

This was a perfect day, particularly the afternoon.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Long Road to a Road: I-675 Prehistory to 1973.

I-675 is fascinating study in delays and controversy, perhaps even of hidden agendas, or maybe not so hidden. What seems a simple concept, a bypass expressway, really isn’t, as this study of the early history shows.

Pre-Interstate Beltway Plans

The first beltway concept around Dayton was an Olmstead Brothers “emerald necklace” park/parkway system, proposed in the years leading up to WWI. This plan went nowhere, as grand plans often do, but it was really a recreation/parks plan, not a traffic plan.

The next attempt at a beltway plan came out of WWII-era military planning. Wartime action transformed cityscapes all over the US, and Dayton was not an exception. Early regional highway planning came out of the need to move people and materiel around the metro area. One of the proposals was a partial beltway between the city and Wright & Patterson Fields, connecting the traffic circle on North Dixie Drive with Patterson Road at Greenmont Village/Oak Park mutual homes.

(the fat gray line on the to enlarge)

This partial beltway would have passed through areas experiencing war worker housing growth, as well as connecting regional highways (US 25 & US40) with the base.

In the immediate postwar era Harlan Bartholomew was retained to develop a comprehensive plan for the Dayton region. This planning effort remains the best attempt at planning for the region, and is an excellent source of documentation of Dayton as it entered the postwar boom.

Bartholomew recommended a beltway to circle the city, swinging well out into Greene County, and also circling through western Montgomery County. This highway would have been an at-grade expressway, with grade separation interchanges at important cross-roads. Perhaps a bit like Route 4 north of Huffman Dam.

This plan was never executed. Instead, during the 1950s, a scaled-down beltway using improved streets and new connectors was proposed and partially executed.
Bartholomew recommended just one true expressway, US 25, as a pre-interstate crosstown highway north-south through the city. 1940s and 1950s expressway planning continued along these lines, emphasizing crosstown and radial highways.

Apparently employment and traffic patterns drove this thinking. These excerpts from news articles on highway planning show a concentration of large employment centers in the core city, with only a few outlying job centers.

Traffic patterns also had a strong hub & spoke system, with intense congestion in the inner parts of the metro area (inside the circle, within which the traffic volume is scaled down or the map would be black), though one could see the start of a trafficky grid of suburban busy streets.

The response was to develop a hub & spoke expressway system, a mix of radial and cross-town routes serving all directions out of the city. One was the US-25 Expressway, I-75. Note that there is no thought of a limited access beltway in this planning, as the idea was to get suburbanites to job centers in the core city.

Around this time Montgomery and Greene County (late 1950s) formed the RTC, or Regional Transportation Committee, which was probably the first attempt at doing regional planning. This body was to coordinate highway planning.

The Interstate Era

The interstate system was established in 1956. A beltway around Dayton was authorized in 1957. And there things sat until 1959, when a consultant was contracted to come up with an alignment, kicking off a six year controversy over route location.


The consultant investigated multiple routes around the city, and settled on an eastern alignment for various reasons (proposed future land use was not one of them).

The predecessor of the Federal DOT, Bureau of Public Roads approved further engineering, but caveated the approval that the local military installation, Wright-Patterson AFB, had not signed off on the route, and needed to.

One can imagine this was key given that the interstate system, especially in its early days, was pitched in-part as a defense highway network, for moving around troops and military materiel, and for civilian evacuations.


ODOT announces plans for the bypass, projected completion in 1965, and preliminary engineering recommended the alignment pass between Wright & Patterson Fields.

The consultants map of the various alignments, the first recommendation of 1960 (in red) and the later recommendation of 1961 running between the bases (red dashes, notional, based on text descriptions). Note that the consultant used the 1959 expressway plan as his base map


The year of controversy. Objections are raised (by local officials) to the proposed alignment, so the RTC came up with the close-in proposal. This would have been well within the county line, cutting through east Dayton, but still retaining the consultants alignment on the southern leg

Why such an alignment? Note this thoroughfare plan from the 1960s, still showing the radial and cross-town expressways

…next, compare it with the close-in alignment. It seems the RTC realigned the bypass to match the Southeast Expressway, permitting the use of Federal highway trust fund money to fund a regional arterial expressway, or a large part of one.

Apparently the RTC had a pretty good cost-benefit analyses because ODOT agreed to the realignment. The Bureau of Public Roads would not, disapproving the scheme as a “parallel expressway”, not a true interstate bypass or belt route.

Also in 1962, the new campus of what was to become Wright-State was selected, near Wright-Patterson AFB. After the rejection of the close-in route an ad-hoc study group was formed of university, base, and RTC staff to come up with a new recommended alignment.

1963 & 1964

The study took up most of 1963, and its first recommendation was for an immediate need for a limited access highway between the base and Indian Ripple. This represents a change in high-priority limited access highway projects, as a 1962 RTC highway plan had recommended expressways west of the city and the east side leg of the Southeast Expressway as highest priority.

This report also recommended that the bypass swing around Fairborn and interchange with I-70 northeast of Fairborn.

It took all of 1964 for ODOT and the Feds (Bureau of Public Roads) to review, reject, and then reconsider the proposed alignment


In January the Feds finally approved the “far east” alignment. News reports that the state was on the hook to pay 50% of the cost for the additional mileage for the swing around Fairborn, as the Feds would not pay this full cost.

At the end of 1965 the bypass was finally included in the RTC’s transportation plan, with recommended phasing. What’s interesting is the first phases was an extended version of the “immediate need” of 1963, to Wilmington Pike. The Southeast Expressway was dropped from the plan.

What’s interesting here is that the expressway was sited, in some cases, to benefit real estate speculation, based on recommendations coming from local highway officials. A good example is the alignment along Colonel Glenn, which was pulled back from the highway to permit a strip of land available for development.


Things dragged after Federal approval in 1965.

In 1966 and 1967 engineering and acquisition began, including final alignment, decided via a series of hearings. It’s unclear when actual engineering began, but ODOT didn’t follow the RTC’s 1965 phasing. Instead it designed and bid the Fairborn stretch first,, (but including a small project for Loop Road in Centerville)

The story of I-675 after 1973 is another post, as it is a deliciously bitter political battle well-documented in the media of that era.

Changing Priorities and What-Ifs.

The early politics of I-675 is unclear, but what is clear is that there was a shift in priority from cross-town and radial highways feeding into the core city in favor of I-675. Only two radials were built, OH 4 and US 35, (US 35 starting in the 1950s, pre-dating I-675).

Western Montgomery County dropped off the priority list for expressways until the quasi-limited access US 35/Trotwood Connector was built in 1990s, mostly at-grade starting at Abbey Avenue. Mapping out the dropped projects it's pretty clear there was an imbalance in capital investment:

After the apparent aborted attempt to game the alignment to fund the Southeast Expressway, efforts and money went to I-675, which was never considered as a true bypass by the locals. One one can see how the freeway was conceived, at first, as a way to get a radial highway funded, then as a suburban connector for Greene County, perhaps even as a development generator for real estate near interchanges (which might account for the far-east alignment around Fairborn).

That alignment choices may have had more to do with real estate and suburban development than transportation might have accounted for the repeated rejections by the Bureau of Public Roads, which finally caved in after the state was willing to pony-up 50% of the cost of the northern alignment.

Just for fun, two what-if alignments; a true outer belt, looping well beyond Beavercreek, and a version of the 1961 alignment cutting between the two halves of the base and reaching I-75 at Stop-Eight. This would have permitted a viable bypass for through I-75 traffic, around the downtown/close-in bottleneck on I-75.

Next, a look at the controversial 1970s history of I-675

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Fall of Film Festivals

Lots happening on the movie scene this Fall.

The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival

LGBT means Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgendered. And it starts tomorrow. A mix of feature indy flicks, culminating in a anthology of short subjects on Sunday afternoon, which should be pretty interesting.

There's been a GLBT festival on and off for a few years now, under different sponsorhips. I was at one of the early ones and saw some fairly entertaining movies, including an excellent Australian film The Sum of Us, starring a young Russell Crowe and Jack Thompson (who later played the Georgia Bulldogs fan lawyer in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)
There's quite a bit of LesBiGay movie-making out there, including The New Queer Cinema, part of the explosion of activism coming out of the AIDs movement and Queer Nation, but in the indy cinema scene.

What's cool about this Dayton festival is that it's cosponsored by the Downtown Priorty Board. Maybe a recognition that downtown Dayton is the metropolitan areas' gay neighborhood. Even if we may not live there we go there, and go there a lot. Downtown is queer safe space and, unlike most other people, a place we are not afraid to visit.

Visit the GLBT Film Festivals' MySpace page.

ScreenPeace Film Festival

Hosted by the Dayton Peace Museum, this film festival extends over most of October and into early November showing some well-know films, including the old French favorite King of Hearts, one of the great anti-war movies.

What makes ScreenPeace special is the grand finale, a student filmmakers/videographers contest. One has to applaud this attempt to foster and feature creativity by people just starting out in this art form. There have been student film festivals here before, like Wright State's "Big Lens" fest of years past, but this is the first not associated with a college:

For more on ScreenPeace, visit their website.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jets From Dayton: Measuring Connectivity via Air Travel

How connected is Dayton? Ground transportation is via Greyhound, which is pretty basic and slow (no passenger rail for decades), which leaves scheduled airline flights as the way to go for long distance travel.

Dayton used to be a hub in the post-CAB hub-and-spoke air travel system, from 1982 to 1992, ending with the disappearance of Piedmont into US Air (the hub terminal is still there, vacant). Today, Dayton feeds into other hubs, and this pattern of hub connections illustrates what regions Dayton is close too, in travel time.

The map below shows the volume of non-stop weekday flights (Wednesday). This is actually fairly impressive, indicating a high degree of connectivity with the Southeast (including the old Piedmont hub at Charlotte), the National Capital Region (DC and Baltimore), and especially Chicago, which just dominates nonstop flights. Connections are much weaker to points west, to the various hubs west of the Mississippi.

Ranking the destinations, one can see how Chicago dominates with 17 flights, and all of this is going to O’Hare. After this comes Charlotte, with 15 flights.

(a bit of an eye chart, click on the image and it will enlarge)

For Washington, the flights break out this way:

  • Dulles (the international airport): 7
  • Reagan (domestic hub): 4
  • Baltimore-Washington: 3

So some very good connections to the National Capital Region, which is to be expected given Dayton’s significance within the defense community.

For New York 7 flights go to LaGuardia, with 3 to Newark.

Closer regional connections are to Detroit, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, all hub airports.

What’s interesting is the non-hub activity, the low volume one-flight-per-day connections. The connections to Florida might appear as tourist flights, but they go to regions of the state that also had the highest out-migration from Dayton, so I suspect not all tourist flights.

Then there are those inexplicable flights to Little Rock and Milwaukee (not clear if the Little Rock flight is a true non-stop, but it originates in Dayton and terminates in Little Rock) , and the flights to Toronto, which makes Dayton an “international” airport.

For global connectivity, most of the hubs Dayton flies to have international connections. O’Hare, Atlanta, and Dulles are particularly well-known as international entreports hosting foreign flag carriers.

Looking at volume of scheduled flights is one way of looking at connectivity. Even more interesting is to see where the actual passenger destinations are, over the course of a week or month. Information that is most likely proprietary, thus unavailable.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The First of Fall

Autumn Equinox, the first of Fall. the trees are not changing yet. It's still summer out with the heat and humidity. But you can feel it. You can sense the change coming, the trees just about to turn, the summer overstaying its welcome and dragging out a bit, the last days before some serious cold snaps.

Daytonlogy will be featuring a Fall Almanac, inspired a bit by tracking the change in seasons, from Summer to Winter, but also a bit by that Almanac that used to be published in the Yellow Springs News (though yer humble host won't be that good in providing seasonal things).

One thing the Almanac will provide is a weekly picture every week, from the same location, to track the change in season as the leaves turn and fall. Not sure of the location yet, thinking either Woodland Cemetery or Grant Park, or maybe even this one overlooking Southern Hills

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sugarcreek Mosque Update

Back in January there was a controversy over a proposed mosque in Sugarcreek township (Greene County). The DDN reported on this, and yer humble host added his two cents here, opining on the apparent religous prejudice shown by members of a local Southern Baptist congregation in organizing opposition to the mosque, as an indicator of a certain xenophobia in this region.

There was also an apparently legitimate planning and zoning issue that got wrapped up into the controversy.

Over the course of the summer the DDN was doing a pretty good job following the issue, including a lawsuit by the Islamic Center, then a compromise solution for a smaller mosque. Oppostion dropped to generic NIMBY stuff, apparently not organized by churchgoers.

It seems that this compromise was accepted by the zoning board this past week. So a positive solution to a situation that could have gone sour.

Dayton & Vicinity: One Giant "Toxic Asset"

Spotted at the Hispanic Festival yesterday.....
...which brought to mind the recent financial meltdown. This was driven by the mortgage crises, where risky mortgages are going belly-up, crashing the financial system. One solution seems to be to move the "toxic investments" or "toxic assets" off the balance sheets into a Resolution Trust Corporation style quango.

This is all high-finance. But there are houses and property behind all this, and this aspect of the crisis is not being discussed too much, as it's seen as a local issue.

Dayton was a ground zero for the foreclosure crisis. As one can see by this map showing foreclosure action a year ago the entire county was being hit by foreclosures, becoming one giant toxic asset.

Though high finance gets the Federal action, places like Dayton and its suburbs are left to sort it out the best they can.

Not even any state action to help out, a legacy of poor governance in Columbus, which actually helped continue the crisis due to the state legislature voiding Dayton and Cleveland attempts to establish local regulations for the mortgage industry.

So here we are. The vacant, foreclosed houses in the area may well have a new owner soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dayon Peace Festival this Sunday

...Sunday afternoon. Click on the image for an enlargment.

LadyFest in Context

Starting during Urban Nights and extending through the weekend, LadyFest was probably the first public use of the Creative Incubator space (they really need to come up with a new name for this).

But what is LadyFest. Apparently this is an international movement of feminist art and music events. The Guardian, the UK broadsheet, as an excellent article on it, showing how it is a modern outgrowth of the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s.

"A phenomenon may be brewing. From Glasgow to Chicago, Boston to Bloomington, Indiana, women are getting together to organise arts events in the name Ladyfest. They are open to all but the ethos - "by women, for women" - is decidedly feminist. The programme ranges from fashion shows to debates on fat oppression to car mechanics workshops, but the main draw is music - and it couldn't be further from the manufactured, fame-seeking pop of the Britneys of this world."

"Ladyfest takes its name and inspiration from a festival held in Olympia, Washington, in August last year, but its ideas were informed by a much earlier movement, riot grrrl...."


That article was from 2001, and it's 2008, so yeah it takes awhile for things to get here, but be glad that it did get here, as this was a great little event. They even had one of my favorites, Dawn Cooksey, performing...

...and you have to love that thing on the floor: Dayton, the heart of Ohio, originals wanted, or maybe they are already here?

More LadyFest pix at Urban Ohio

...or at the LadyFest Dayton website.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ingersoll Acres: Exurbia to Edge City

Ingersoll Acres was discovered by yer humble host while hunting for a shortcut around mall traffic one gloomy winter rush hour. Hidden behind the bright lights of the Dayton Mall /OH 725 retail development was this little subdivision with exceptionally large lots, on a street (Lois Circle) that connected Mad River Road and OH 725 (so not much of a shortcut).

I’ve always been curious about this place, and after getting serious about studying local urban history and geography it became a subject of inquiry. It turns out that this little plat is a good demonstration on how postwar suburban growth and evolution paralleled what happened in downtown Dayton in the prewar era, but at an auto-scale.

The study area outlined in red

An Early Postwar Plat

Suburbia had already expanded well beyond Dayton city limits by the Great Depression, with 1920s plats & land speculation extending along Springboro Pike as far south as Alex-Bell Road. By this time Miamisburg and West Carollton had developed into early commuter suburbs.

This speculative activity apparently didn’t extend up the hill to the Dayton Mall area, with property apparently still being held as ag land. This early 1930s property map shows Ingersoll Acres (and a strip of property to the south of Miamisburg-Centerville Road, AKA OH 725) held by Issac Apple.

Apple’s property north of OH 725 apparently was subdivided in the 1940s, maybe after the war, with the first houses built in very late 1940s, continuing into the mid 1950s, per this map of the surviving houses

By 1954 the subdivision appears in a landscape of farmland, woodlots, orchards and ponds, near the crossroads settlement of Shanersville. On can also see the headwaters of Holes Creek draining the rolling landscape as well as limited exurban ribbon development of houses along the country roads.

Matching the USGS map with a roughly contemporaneous aerial, one can see the outlines of houses.

And an enlargement, showing the mostly rural feel of this exurban locale. One can clearly see the tree line of a branch of Holes’ Creek cutting through the development, and the houses on site

Per this plat book cut of 1960, one can see the subdivision labeled as Ingersoll Acres, as well as adjacent development. Lots aren’t shown, though, and it looks lke the corner lot at Mad River and OH 725 was retained as it’s own parcel. This might have been the original farm house as the USGS topos show a barn on the property.
I-75 and the Dayton Mall dramatically transformed the landscape in this area. This transformation wasn’t instantaneous, though, with commercial development slow-rolling until the 1980s. Though the mall was directly across the street Ingersoll Acres remained residential as late as 1979, the date of this USGS topo photo-revision.

The 1980’s Boom

The 1970s was apparently a time of stagnant or slow development in Dayton. The 1980s was different, with an explosion of development in the Dayton Mall area. Ingersoll Acres was caught up in the mall area boom and transformed.

Most of the site was acquired by developers, who tore down the houses, stripped the landscape, and reassembled the parcels (right hand map shows the ages of the remaining houses, some of the older postwar housing this far south, outside of a town or village)

The frontage along OH 725 was redeveloped into a mixed use strip center with some small commercial pads to the west of Lois Circle. Property deeper into the site was developed as high density residential of various types: apartments, assisted living, extended stay hotel. Nearly all of this was in place by 1988, with the last commercial build-out in the mid 1990s

Yet there still are a handful of houses left at the rear of the site

A 2000’s aerial, showing the present situation, Ingersoll Acres as a building block of the Dayton Mall edge city

What happened here in the 1980s is identical to what happened in downtown Dayton until WWII, where the central business district expanded into adjacent residential blocks, replacing free-standing houses with various types of commercial construction, hotels, and higher density housing, yet with some individual houses surviving.

Here, the original “central business district” was the Dayton Mall, and commercial use expanded into surrounding residential and rural properties, responding to increasing property value driven by the desire by business to locate close to the mall. The difference, of course, is that development is much more spread-out and subject to single-purpose zoning.

Development in both cases was determined by the original property lines (town plat vs subdivided farm) and transportation technology (horse and street cars vs automobiles); resulting in similar changes of use: single family residential to office, retail, hotels, and high density residential.

Next, a look at what it really looks like

Ingersoll Acres on the Ground.

After maps and aeriels a virtual site visit.

We’ll move into and out of the study area, starting with the commercial development fronting Route 725, moving back into the site, and out again..

The strip center, Mad River Station, was developed by Beerman Reality, and has a feature found in the first Beerman developments of the late 1940s; second story spec office space. So this is a bit of a throwback to early postwar suburbia. This type of two-story mixed use is fairly unusual for a 1980s strip center.

Pads closer to the highway are developed as freestanding buildings, which is a conventional approach. In this case it’s more retail space, but often one sees these pads developed as chain food places.

Barnes &Noble was the last structure built

The back of the strip center, with blank ground floor wall, due to this being the storage/service side of the ground floor retail

…facing the apartment complex to the rear. Proximate, but no intentional connectivity (missed opportunity).….

Water feature, Recall this was roughly on the course of that Hole’s Creek tributary.

Beyond the apartments Lois Circle narrows and one enters the rump Ingersoll Acres plat. Interesting to see striping here, for high volume traffic.
The oldest surviving house, from 1949, hiding behind the trees. When this Cape Cod was built TV was still fairly new, Truman was president and the Dodgers were still playing at Ebbetts Field, and gas was 26 cents a gallon.

1950, sort of the last gasp of the late 1930s/1940s cottage style, with “Bedford stone” trim.

1954 ranch on huge lot.

1950, according to the county auditors records. Probably one of the earliest modern “ranch style” houses in Dayton suburbia. Nice big picture window. It seems the earlier the spec ranches the better the design.

Departing the remnant residential area into the 1980s/90s development.

The assisted living complex. Not shown is a water feature in front, probably a rework of an old pond on the same site.

…and the extended stay hotel. This might be fairly new, as it has that big gable roof and cheapo EIFIS look to it.

Finally, a look back at what’s left of Ingersoll Acres, a survival of early postwar exurbia in the heart of a 21st century edge city.