Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The End of 2008

The last post of the year as New Years Eve will be spent in Kentucky.

299 posts. 24.8 posts per month. There's a lot there, but I'm not going to do a greatest hits because they are all great (IMHO of course).

There were some odd moments, like my attempt to do a series on Sacramento as an experiment with "remote blogging" (conclusion: you have to be there to really do urbanist blogging on a place).

This was a year when people were obessed with politics. About as close as I came to serious political blogging was when I did that stuff on Mike Turner as a favor for Esrati (since he was one of the few here doing urban affairs blogging). True to form that stuff was got me the most links elsewhere on the net and the most comments. Hmph.

It's laughable to see how popular Turner is with the creative class types. The other interesting thing to happen here was the Creative Class initiative, which I didn't really blog on too much as its sort of an insider thing and they have their own internet presence.

Compare and contrast:

Louisville: Re-elects John Yarmuth, ex libertarian/GOPer, and former pot-smoking editor/publisher of the local indy weekly paper.

Dayton: Re-elects Mike Turner: lawyer, homophobe, developer tool and military industrial complex suck-up.

So what city do you guess might be ever-so-slightly more hip, tolerant and creative-classy than the other? That's why I'm skeptical of this concept re Dayton. But I wish them well.

Which brings up this Daytonologys recurring I Luv Louavull theme, where I posit Louisville as an example for Daytonians to follow, the evil opposite of Dayton, the Anti-Dayton. (though I am starting to see Portland, Oregon as the Anti-Dayton).

My last post on this thread at Urban Ohio is that I blog on Dayton pretending it's Louisville. I guess that is sort of psycho, but it means I look at Dayton through the eyes of a Louisvillian (well, OK, I am a native of Chicago).

So perhaps this blog is just a grand, intentional misreading as well as a sort of "lookee here!" thing.

Anyway, off to Louisville for New Years and the next post will be about 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tagging East Dayton

. If you know the city well you know where these are at

In this case it looks like someone tried to paint over earlier smaller tags ( paint on the plywood)…but then the taggers decided to do the top floor

(you can click on these to enlarge for all the gory detail)

Another case of the building owner trying to keep up with the taggers. Looks like the owners cleaned some stuff off the old store window

Good luck trying to clean that limestone water table. Note the tags on the next door building at the edge of the pix. There are tags in the alley between the buildings and all along this wall

When yr going to vandalize a house via tagging, just go for broke, huh? (Nice touch with those attention flags)

Dayton Pride. The owner doesn’t see fit to clean that stone top so why not screw it up even more with tags

I decided not to take pix of the tipped-over trash cans down the street a few blocks as that would be a bit much, no?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Boycott Dayton? Not Much of a Sacrifice.

The boycott Dayton concept seems silly or extreme, but it's actually pretty easy to do. The average person is already doing it, but uninentionally.

Why would one need or want to go into town? I can only think of a few reasons: jury duty, legal issues, or some form of specialized entertainment.

Culture vultures have to come downtown for the "SOB" & theatre. A somewhat different audience comes downtown for Broadway road shows and Cityfolk stuff. Then there are the sports fans for Dragons games.

People who are live/original music fans would have to come into town as the big club concentration is in the Oregon, bleeding into downtown a bit. This is mostly a singles/couples/young adult thing, with some older folks depending on the music and venue.

A subset of the music/culture vulture scene are the Cityfolk and Celtic festivals (for a more general audience) plus the Dave Hall Plaza music festivals, which are narrowcasting to certain music niche markets.

Relevant only to yer humble host are the gay bars, which is a very specialized form of nightlife.

Suburban geneological hobbyists would be using the downtown library to do their research (I use it for history stuff, but I notice folks using it mostly for geneology research).

Beyond this, for the average person with a family, who doesn't go to the SOB or out to listen to bands, or aren't into minor league sports, they are most likely going to be staying at home, or close to home, with little reason to go into town. They aren't really boycotting Dayton, there's just nothing there for them, or nothing they can't get closer to home.

So there is no reason to travel into Dayton, boycott or no boycott.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boycott Dayton

This infrequently updated blog/website has been around since this fall, but has not recievedLinkvery much mention.

There is a thread parented by yer humble host over at Urban Ohio which has some interesting discussion, but nary a word from the other local bloggers.

Probably because they don't want to touch it.

On one level you can get mad.Link
On another you can see the blog owner working out some personal grief over the loss of his son, and this is how he's doing it. It is a tragic tale; the son was a star athelete in Bellbrook, and was apparently a contractor, too, while living out in Colorado. Apparently the son got mixed up in drugs, and was killed by two drug dealers. The full story is at the site, including DDN and City Paper coverage.

You can read the full concept at the linked page, but here's an excerpt:

"I have personally decided to Boycott Dayton to give Dayton’s Civic Leaders & Religious Leaders & their followers & supporters some incentative to get aggresive towards criminals in Dayton & lock them up & throw the key away to save the suburbs before they get the chance to come out here & victimize me or members of my family.

You will never get the right answer unless you ask the right question?

"The question is what should Dayton’s Civic Leaders do about all the dysfunctional families in Dayton, Ohio that produce one addict & co-dependent after another that end up being criminals that victimize law biding tax paying citizens & innocent children & the elderly that have no choice.

"They are going to have to figure out how to get these people into organized programs of recovery or crime & violence will continue to escalate & end up here in the suburbs.

He has a point. Crime & violence certainly did end up in the suburbs, specifically the Dorothy Lane Wal-Mart parking lot before Christmas, where someone was shot during a stick-up.

Makes sense that predators go were the prey is, and Dayton is too damn poor to provide much picken's for the bad guys. Yet this is just an assumption. One would like to see some hard data as to where the perps of suburban crime live (in many cases like family disturbances and such, probably in the suburbs, too).

What you'd do if find the residences for felony suspects and map them out to see if they are indeed coming out from Dayton (assuming this is public record).

But that's just verifying (or disproving) the Boycott Dayton hypothoses, and doesn't solve the high crime rate problem, which has been with us since the 1960s.

Downtown: Surviors, Replacements, & the Ghost City

Since downtown is going to be in the news in 2009 a few posts on that place.

This neat aerial was from an old planning study, showing downtown as it was around 1950. You can mouse over and click on it to enlarge.

What lasted down to our era? The survivors are outlined in yellow.

Note that things were built since 1950 but were later torn down (Patterson School seen under construction here, and the Lazarus parking garages, for example). I don't show those, just the things that survived from 1950 (sometimes heavily altered).

Usually people black out what was torn down when showing these kinds of changes. Since so much was removed, I thought it better to black out the survivors. Whats remains visible in the pix is the ghost city, the city of memory for a certain generation of Daytonians.

Mapping out the survivors in a black plan. No block is intact, but the Arcade block & Merchants Row on E. Third appear as a fairly consistent pre-1950 streetscape. It's interesting that Main Street disappears here, indicating that building along this street was substantially replaced or removed after 1950

Next, what was built since 1950, and there was a alot. It might be interesting to do this as a time series to investigate building subsitution during the postwar era. And it was just replacing buildings; parking lots were replaced by buildings, too.

Mapping out the post 1950 building via a quasi black plan. Here parking structures are noted in blue. It would be interesting to map out the sum floorplate of these; there is a lot of parking here.
The big urban renewal efforts of Dave Hall Plaza/Midtown Mart and Courthouse Square are pretty visible, and 2nd Street from Jefferson to Wilkinson is almost all new (only the Hulman Buiding/Liberty Bank survives from 1950).

Putting it all together, its interesting seeing the pattern, with Main still being eroded by ill-concieved architectural and planning set-pieces, while Ludlow remains more "street-like".

Fourth and Ludlow, Ludlow & 2nd, and Main and First seems to be the most intact intersections with actual buildings on all four corners, without a parking lot or plaza
or setback on a fourth corner.

Finally, what went away. These buildings were removed since 1950, either for a new building or for parking.

As one can see downtown Dayton is fairly "new".

One thing to consider is open space and parking. Downtown Dayton always seemed so "open", and it might be interesting to investigate this a bit more using this aeriel, since just a cursory inspection reveals that this was the case even back then.

A New View of the Downtown Skyline

With Cliburn Manor gone there's a nice new skyline view, with "Lower South Park" in the foreground. I think at least 3 of the five houses visible are vacant, and the plan is to tear out the rest of that neighborhood south to US 35.

And supposedly MVH has plans for the Cliburn site; probably to put up some deadly office or clinic building. Or maybe just more surface parking.

I still like my concept of turning this and the property north of Burns into a big urban park, since anything new here is going to be out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood (and Dayton doesn't have a big urban park).

So enjoy the view while it lasts. Incidentally, this was the site of Martin Sheen's home when he was a kid in Dayton.

Behind the camera, the Detroitification of 19th Century Dayton continues apace:

This and the demolished house next to it were, I think, two of the older houses in this part of South Park, dating before 1869 as they appear on the Titus map published that year. These houses would have had a nice view of the skyline with Cliburn Manor gone.

Oh well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Caresource vs the Tissue Center: Downtown Floorplates

Apparently another company is leaving downtown for the suburbs. That blood and tissue place on Main between the railroad embankment and the interstate is going to build an 80,000 SF building at Research Park.

This has generated an interesting thread at Dayton Most Metro about downtown locations for business, and that apparently this company was in negotiation for a larger site downtown but opted instead for a campus setting.

Could a 80,000 SF building be accommodated in the center city. The following investigates just how big this is, both a one story pancake building and a two story solution.

It seems both approaches are do-able, if not in downtown proper certainly in the empty acres surrounding the central business district.

Fitting the two floorplates in Research Park; no problem. Lost is space

An alternatie is Caresource. This is a company that made a compromise with a tight downtown site and the pancake building floorplate.

Disassembling the Caresource floorplate into parking and office/mechanical space..the curved “tower part” and a larger two story base”

....And reassembling them into a “campus solution” of two and three story buildings, perhaps like Lexis Nexis, but downtown. This was actually done in Toledo with Owens Cornings' "Middlegrounds" headquarters (on an old railroad yard site, I think), and ConAgra's Omaha HQ, where they tore down that citys’ warehouse district (Jobbers Canyon) to build a suburban campus downtown.

Good thing Caresource didn't do that, but we would have supported them if they had wanted to, right?

In any case, here's a comparison showing that the Caresource building is a neat comprise as it's not as skinny as the newer high-rises, providing a floorplate that is almost double that of a typical modern Dayton skyscraper, but designed well enough so the building doesn't look "fat".

Dayton lucked-out with Caresource.

Moraine City in the early Frigidaire Era

The Frigidaire era began in 1926 or 1927 when GM decided to expand and reconstruct the old Dayton-Wright factory to make refrigerators as an expansion from the downtown plant. This probably kicked off the real estate boom investigated in a previous post.

We’ll take a closer look at this area…

…which corresponds to this pix, probably from 1940 or 1941, just before WWII.

Some labels. The interurban was out of business by now as the tracks by the “CL&E shops” are gone. But during the 14 year overlap between Frigidaire and interurban service there was a freight service developed, with an industrial spur running out from the mainline to the plant. Subdivision activity also appears, particularly Moraine Center and the second section of Moraine, now under development as the economy was coming out of the Depression. It appears Kettering Boulevard is being built around this time; though it shows up in earlier maps this was apparently a paper highway to go along with the paper suburb.

A close-up of the new Frigidaire plant, showing how it was a major expansion and reconstruction of the old Dayton Wright factory, forcing the realignment of Springboro Pike.

One can also see what looks like the first parking lots under construction.

Since this was well outside the city one had to reverse commute. Apparently during the first years of operation there was no parking! The way people got to work here was either via interurban or via the Big Four (and maybe via jitney). During 1920s The Big Four ran two commuter trains per day, one outbound & one inbound, to Moraine. No station, no platform, the train apparently just pulled over on a siding and the workers just got off and on. Nothing fancy for the working stiff.

This interior shot of the plant shows an unusual feature…the indoor loading area for the interurban…apparently the industrial spur ran inside the building, as one can see one of the interurban box cars spotted on this track (note the rear door, which you never see in conventional box cars).

CL&E had a very aggressive freight program and provided an early version of “next day” just-in-time service, by rail instead of via air the way UPS or FedEx does. But they operated this over a single track system, at night, without block signals, so garbled or misunderstood train orders risked high-speed head-on collisions.

Fortunately this particular area was double-tracked.

The interurban also provided at least hourly passenger service (maybe more frequent during rush hour). Commuter ("tripper") service was offered at times as far as Miamisburg, with apparently two stations at Moraine.

Going to work via interurban. This is the Springboro Pike station or flag stop. After the C&LE went under the Dayton & Suburban Railway provide service to Moraine until finally ending in 1941, one of the longer lasting interuban services in the US.

One can tell it was a bit of a walk from the station to the factory, so the Big Four was maybe a better alternative from a convenience standpoint since it let you off right at the plant gate. In Dayton the interurban ended at the what is now the Webster Station tavern…that was their station.

After that the only way to get out here was by car and maybe bus

Moraine Suburbia Early Take-Off

Coming out of the Depression one can see a small building boom going on in Moraine.

Some of the Moraine Center houses might have predated the Depression, but there was a lot of new construction going on too, as can be seen by the building sites. These are some of the last of the old school housing, probably following designs from the 1920s or 1930s. This plat was finished out in postwar housing styles; cottages and early ranches.

Moraine City Section 2 was finally becoming more than a paper plat, with streets being laid out, and early houses along Dixie Drive, including a cottage style house, being the popular style from the later 1930s and 1940s. The old church was one of two,; one was torn down and this one survives as a local landmark (dating back to the 1880s).

A close up of the Slanker Plat, showing the old Cureton Foundry (by this time I think a compressed air place), the interurban, and the Springboro/Dixie intersection. It looks like a nice little collection of houses was springing up here.

The Slanker Plat today, demonstrating how the landscape has been transformed.

A birds-eye of the modern landscape. The inset shows the little ditch that parallel Dixie, with ditch gaurds where Springboro bridges it. Same location, 66 years or so apart

In modern times the landscape is brutalized, re-engineered to sprawl scale, with the ditch becoming much larger to accept runoff from postwar subdivisions and hard surfaces. The houses disappear, replaced by who knows what…the bigger ditch? Yet one can still see how the interurban ROW still determines lot lines and such, as sort of a ghostly presence driving what are to us inexplicable moves in the landscape.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Moraine in the 20s & 30s: The Paper Suburb

It's probably not too well known that Moraine had a suburban history pre-dating WWII.

Though we've seen the early planning for the suburb and the first industry and subdivision there was considerable real estate speculation in the area prior to the Great Depression. We'll take a look at some of this development, probably related to the Frigidaire expansion of the late 1920s.

Roaring 20s Land Speculations

This map shows how this area was in play well before the era of postwar suburbia. Orange shading shows plats prior to 1930, red shading shows land held by development companies, and the yellow is land held by local notables, mainly the industrialists Kettering and Deeds, newspaperman Cox and the heirs to Adam Schantz. Blue is the GM holdings, as GM had expanded in the area during the 1920s, substantially adding to and reconstructing the old Dayton-Wright plant in 1926-1927 to manufacture refrigerators. This may have kicked off the land boom in the area.

The 1920s was the era when the framework for postwar suburbia was being set; as one can see land was in play as far south as Alex-Bell Road, actually south of Alex-Bell. Alexanderville, on this and the other maps, was a canal village platted before the Civil War, and apparently remained an identifiable place until being swamped by post WWII sprawl.

An enlargement showing the Moraine Development Company holdings and the first two subdivisions, Moraine City sections 1 and 2, and the three sections of Moraine South. The Frigidaire & the CH&D interuban shops are also outlined in red.

The Schantz story at Moraine ends during this era as the Schantz estate liquidated its interest in the development company in the late 1920s, say around the time Frigidaire was being built. It's unclear who the principles were in the development company but Schantzs orgingal partners were Deeds and Kettering, so presumably they retained some interest in the development company. Or maybe it became a subsidiary of GM.

The Paper Suburb

This Wager's Map from the early 1930s shows the extent of subdivision activity in the Moraine Area. It labels most developments, but I put in labels for a few more. The map mistakenly locates Moraine Riverview further north than it really was. It does show, however, how this area continued to have passenger rail service for communting via the interurban.

And it also shows the appearance of Kettering Boulevard, which indicates that though this area had commuter service the car was probably the main driver of real estate speculation as most of the plats shown here are not oriented around the rail line.

One can see that the plan for Moraine Development Company property coming out of the 1920s was to subdivide the land between Kettering Boulevard and Sprinboro Pike, with the proposed streets drawn in for part of the plat. This was aborted during the Depression.

Perhaps an example of the Dayton economy, booming though it was in the 20's , not booming as much as, say, Detroit. Or maybe this was just too far out; places like Westwood and Belmont were the 1920s boomburbs.

The Big Hill portion of Hills & Dales park also appears: this was either under development or developed later as a subdivision, as Hills & Dales south of Dorothy Lane was not gifted to the city but retained by the Patterson family for real estate development.

One can see Stroop rerouted as Moraine Park Drive to intersect with Dixie Drive at Big Hill Road, cutting through the Deeds property; perhaps the start of even more subdivision activity?

South Moraine, Moraine Center, Morain Riverview, Moraine Little Farms, Moraine City Section 2 and Miami Shores all appear on this map, though most of them would not see build-out until after WWII.

These were paper suburbs of the 1920s

Approaching WWII

By 1940 a more realistic map shows land development of the time. Moraine Development Company lands in red (extending as far north as Dorothy Lane), show the aborted 1920s subdivision gone, plat vacated. Readers familiar with this area know well what happened to the property, and it wasn't a residential subdivision.

We also see West Moraine finally appear. "Dogpatch" became an district of self-built war worker housing. During the era of this map all the subdivisions shown here construction, from, say 1938-1939 through WWII.

The old canal ROW is also shown, indicating Dryden Road hadn't been extended yet into the northern reaches of Moraine. The interurban still appears, though it was on it's last leg.

This close-up at the southern reaches of Moraine shows the original Moraine City plat in red and 1920s subdivisions, demonstrating how much the area had grown (on paper at least)

But it wasn't all on paper. The little pix of representative houses (click on image to enlarge) demonstrates how this area did see some pre WWII construction, so there are bits and pieces of an older, perhaps more humane version of suburbia embedded in a matrix of postwar sprawl.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sweet City of My Dreams

Louisville Louisville Louisville
sweet city of my dreams
sweet city of my dreams
no matter where I travel
no matter where I go
your friendly smile
your warm embrace
always call me home...

...Ron Whitehead


More on Ron Whitehead here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Rise and Fall of GM at Moraine

Moraine Assembly starts to close this Saturday and will shut down, department by department, during next week, with the last vehicle rolling off the line on the 23rd. The place will be closed for good by Christmas Eve.

Here's a look at the rise and fall of industry at Moraine, via some diagrammatic maps.

As we've seen the first plant was the Delco-Light plant, later converted to warplane production by Dayton-Wright.

After Dayton-Wright closed the plant, or a part of it, was used as a research lab by Delco. But in 1926 the plant was substantially enlarged and rebuilt to produce refrigerators. Frigidaire would produce appliances here unitl the 1970s.

In the 1940s the plant was unionized by the UE. The UE local would affiliate with the IUE in the late 1940s.

Postwar expansion....

In 1979 GM sold Frigidaire but kept the plant, which was retooled and expanded to produce vehicles, starting with the Chevy Blazer in 1981. A Delco (later Delphi) was also built.

In the 1990s a paint shop was added, and an engine plant, which was a joint-venture with a Japanese company.

The Moraine complex at the largest extent (though one starts to see removals, too)

The complex undergoes partial demolition during the 2000's

And finally closed in 2008. The joint-venture engine plant remains open, though.