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)


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Anonymous said...

The Northridge middle school received it's name When a contest by children was held in Ebenezer Church and a young girl had come up with what was thought to be the most creative name.And because this young girl had won the contest,the elders decided to name the school after the little girl.(Ester Dennis Middle School).

Anonymous said...

Ebenezer became Northridge after a contest for pupils in the schools to submit suggested names. The contest was won by Mildred Goodwin, an 11 year old sixth grader in the Ebenezer Junior High School. "Northridge" because the town is north of Dayton and occupies a ridge between the Miami and Stillwater rivers. From booklet "On The Ridge." As for changing the old Northridge High School to the Esther Dennis Middle School, it was during the 1975-76 school year in honor of Esther Dennis, a long-time resident and former teacher and assitant principal. Also from the bookelt "On The Ridge."

George Drury Smith said...

From about 1930 to 1933 (I was born in 1927) we lived with my grandparents on Martin Avenue, east of New Troy Pike, which was at what was known as "Stop Seven." I remember when the interurban stopped running and was replaced by buses, as well as when gas lines were put in and New Troy Pike (US Route 25 in those days, the Dixie Highway) was paved with bricks. The house was a "Dutch colonial," which was probably built in 1926, and I recall it was the only new house around there. We dumped our garbage in a "crick" that bordered on property that had a rather large house, known to be occupied by a "Gypsy king and queen," on either Nomad Avenue or Gypsy Drive (in any case the street that paralleled Martin Avenue, to its south). One year there was a huge gathering there, said to be attended by Gypsies from all over the country. On the west side of the Dixie Highway at Stop seven was a dairy farm operated by the Carns (Karns?) family, and someplace back in that area there was a shallow brook where you could see in its bed what I later thought were trilobite-like and various sea shell fossils. It was a very lonely place to grow up, as there were no other children around. My grandfather often called the area P Ridge of Pea Ridge

Unknown said...

Much Northridge history is in the book "From Ebenezer To Northridge". For information see