Dayton, Ohio

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 Downtown Dayton, Ohio, as seen from across the Great Miami River
Downtown Dayton, Ohio, as seen from across the Great Miami River

Dayton is a city in southwestern Ohio, United States with a population of 166,179 (2000). It is the county seat and largest city of Montgomery County. The Greater Dayton area or Dayton metropolitan area encompasses a number of contiguous communities outside Dayton city proper, including Vandalia, Trotwood, Kettering, Centerville and Beavercreek, with a population of 848,153 (2000). Dayton is situated within the Miami Valley region of Ohio, just north of the Cincinnati metropolitan area.

Dayton plays host to significant industrial, aerospace, and research activity, and is known for the many technical innovations and inventions developed there. The city was the home of the Wright Brothers, poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, and entrepreneur John H. Patterson. Dayton is nicknamed the Gem City, and is also sometimes known as the "Birthplace of Aviation."

Dayton, Ohio
Flag of Dayton, Ohio
Seal of Dayton, Ohio
Nickname: Gem City
Location of Dayton,  Ohio
April 1, 1796
County Montgomery County
Mayor Rhine L. McLin
 - Total
 - Water

146.7 km² (56.6 mi²)
2.2 km² (0.9 mi²) 1.55% 
 - City (2000)
 - Density
 - Metropolitan

Time zone Eastern (UTC –5)
WGS-84 (GPS)
 39.7627° N 84.1967° W
Official Website
 Fifth Third Field, home to the Dragons baseball team, is located in downtown Dayton.
Fifth Third Field, home to the Dragons baseball team, is located in downtown Dayton.


Name and history

Dayton was founded on April 1, 1796 by a small group of US settlers seven years before the admission of Ohio to the Union in 1803. The town was incorporated in 1805 and given its name after Jonathan Dayton, a captain in the American Revolutionary War and signer of the U.S. Constitution. Dayton was the home of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright who, before their aviation success, ran a bicycle shop in Dayton. It was also the home of the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and of John H. Patterson 1, who founded a successful cash register business in Dayton, National Cash Register Corporation, or NCR, which eventually diversified and was corporation of great importance in the United States during the mid- to late-20th century.

In 1797, Daniel C. Cooper laid out the Mad River Road, the first overland connection between Cincinnati, Ohio and Dayton. This opened up the "Mad River Country" at Dayton and the upper Miami Valley to settlement.

The Miami and Erie Canal built in the 1830s connected the Dayton commerce from Lake Erie via the Great Miami River and served as the principal route of transportation for western Ohio until the 1850s.

The catastrophic Great Dayton Flood of March 1913 severely affected much of the city, and stimulated the growth of suburban communities outside central Dayton in areas lying further from the Miami River and on higher ground; the Miami Conservancy District was established in 1914 as a result. The flood remains an event of note in popular memory and local histories.


Dayton's primary nickname is the "Gem City". The origin of the name is no longer clear; it appears to stem either from a well-known racehorse named "Gem" that hailed from Dayton, or from descriptions of the city likening it to a gem. The most likely origin appears to be an 1840s article in a Cincinnati newspaper which reads

In a small bend of the Great Miami River, with canals on the east and south, it can be fairly said, without infringing on the rights of others, that Dayton is the gem of all our interior towns. It possesses wealth, refinement, enterprise, and a beautiful country, beautifully developed.

The nickname "Birthplace of Aviation" is also frequently seen due to Dayton being the hometown of the Wright Brothers, and the fact that they developed the principles of aerodynamics, designed and built their planes at Huffman Prairie before and after their first flight in North Carolina.

Notable facts

The city has a rich heritage of inventions and innovations, with more patents per capita than any other city in the nation. Some of these inventions include the stepladder, microfiche, cellophane tape, pop top beverage cans, the movie projector, space food, parking meters, the airplane supercharger, the automobile self-starter, gas masks, and the parachute.

Dayton has received the All-America City Award three times.

The first All-American Soap Box Derby was held in Dayton on August 19, 1934.

Political structure

In 1913, Dayton became the first city in the United States to adopt the council-manager system of city government. In this system, the mayor is merely the chairperson of the city commission and has one vote on the commission just like the other commissioners. The commission chooses a city manager, who holds administrative authority over the city government.

As of November 2004:

Dayton Municipal Court

Dayton City Schools Board of Education

Urban design and architecture

Unlike many Midwestern cities of its age, Dayton has very broad and straight downtown streets (generally two full lanes in each direction), facilitating access to the downtown even after the automobile became popular. The main reason for the broad streets was that Dayton was a marketing and shipping center from its beginning: streets were broad to enable wagons drawn by teams of three to four pairs of oxen to turn around. In addition, some of today's streets were once barge canals flanked by draw-paths.

A courthouse building was constructed in downtown Dayton in 1888 to supplement Dayton's original Grecian-style courthouse, which still stands. This second, "new" courthouse has since been replaced with new facilities as well as a park.

Dayton Agreement

The Dayton Agreement, a peace accord between the parties to the hostilities of the conflict in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia, was negotiated in the Dayton area. From November 1, 1995 to November 21, 1995, negotiations took place at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

Cultural and Recreational Activities

Dayton is home to the Dayton Art Institute, a museum of fine arts. The National Museum of the United States Air Force is at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park commemorates the lives and achievements of Dayton natives, Orville and Wilbur Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Dayton is also home to the Schuster Center for the performing arts and the Victoria Theater which specialize in hosting concerts, traveling Broadway shows, and ballet, completed in 2004. The Schuster Center is also the home performance venue of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.

South of the city of Dayton is the Fraze Pavilion which hosts many nationally and internationally known musicians for concerts, located in the community of Kettering. Also south of downtown, on the banks of the Great Miami River, is the University of Dayton Arena, home venue for the University of Dayton Flyers basketball teams and the location of various other events and concerts. North of Dayton is the Hara Arena and the Nutter Center, venues that frequently host sporting events and concerts. The Nutter Center is the home arena for athletics of Wright State University and the Dayton Bombers ECHL hockey team.

Fifth Third Field is the home of the Dayton Dragons minor league baseball team.

From 1996 to 1998, Dayton hosted the National Folk Festival.

Adult Amateur Sports

Dayton has an adult amateur women's ice hockey team, the Dayton Fangs. The Fangs are a new edition to the Dayton area and accept both new and experienced players. They are under consideration to join the Pennsylvania-Ohio Women's Hockey Association(POWHA), an adult level amateur travel women's ice hockey league, in 2006-2007.


The principal general-circulation daily newspaper in the region is the Dayton Daily News, which is owned by Cox Communications.

Christian Citizen USA (dba Citizen USA) [] is a politically conservative newspaper with circulation in the greater Dayton and suburban commuities with over 20 years of publication. The majority owners and publishers are Pendra Lee and Rick Snyder.


The local broadcast television stations are:

Note: In 2004, WDTN switched back to NBC affiliation from a multi-year tenure as an ABC affiliate, forcing WKEF back to an ABC affiliation.


AM Format

  • WONE 980 Sports/Talk
  • WIZE 1340 Sports/Talk
  • WDAO 1210 Black contemporary/soul music
  • WHIO 1290 Full service radio-talk shows

FM Format

  • WDPR 88.1 Dayton Public Radio (Classical)
  • WCSU 88.9 Urban Jazz and Gospel.
  • WYSO 91.3 National Public Radio (Yellow Springs)
  • WROU 92.1 Urban Contemporary
  • WGTZ 92.9 Top 40 Pop
  • WFCJ 93.7 Christian/Inspirational
  • WDKF 94.5 Top 40 Rhythmic Pop
  • WMOJ 94.9 Adult urban contemporary (Cincinnati)
  • WZLR 95.3 Classic Rock
  • WDPT 95.7 80s
  • WHKO 99.1 Modern Country
  • WUDR 99.5 University Of Dayton Radio
  • WLQT 99.9 Soft adult contemporary music
  • WDHT 102.9 Urban
  • WXEG 103.9 Modern Rock
  • WTUE 104.7 Classic Rock
  • WDSJ 106.5 Urban jazz
  • WWSU 106.9 Wright State University Radio
  • WMMX 107.7 Contemporary music


Dayton is one of only six remaining U.S. cities with electric trolley bus service, which has been operating continuously since 1888, making it the longest running electric trolley service in the U.S. The trolley service is a part of the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority or RTA.

Air travel is served by the James M. Cox Dayton International Airport, located in Vandalia.


Dayton is home to two major universities: the University of Dayton, a private, Catholic institution founded in 1850 by the Marianist order, and the public Wright State University, which became a state university in 1967. The University of Dayton has the only American Bar Association (ABA) approved law school in the Dayton area, UDSL

Dayton is also home to one of the country's leading community colleges, Sinclair Community College (founded as a YMCA college in 1887), located in central downtown Dayton. Miami Jacobs College is a another junior college in Dayton.

Notable Natives


Dayton is located at 39°45'46" North, 84°11'48" West (39.762708, -84.196665)1. The city sits in the Miami River Valley, north of Cincinnati, well south of Toledo, south-west of Columbus, and east of Richmond, Indiana, in the southwest quadrant of the state. Most official and government designations place it in west-central Ohio (a term which colloquially often refers to Lima, Ohio). It is at the confluence of the Great Miami River, the Stillwater and Mad rivers, and Wolf Creek.

Following the flood of 1913, the Miami Conservancy District was established in 1914 to build dams and levees and to dredge and straighten channels to control flooding of the Miami and surrounding rivers.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 146.7 km² (56.6 mi²). 144.5 km² (55.8 mi²) of it is land and 2.2 km² (0.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.55% water.


Note: the following demographic information applies only to the city of Dayton proper. For other Dayton-area communities, see their respective articles.

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 166,179 people, 67,409 households, and 37,614 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,150.3/km² (2,979.4/mi²). There are 77,321 housing units at an average density of 535.2/km² (1,386.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 53.36% White, 43.13% Black or African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.70% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. 1.58% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.


There are 67,409 households out of which 27.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.2% are married couples living together, 20.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 44.2% are non-families. 36.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.30 and the average family size is 3.04.

Age structure and gender ratio

The age structure of Dayton's popluation is:

  • under 18 years: 25.1%
  • 18 to 24 years: 14.2%
  • 25 to 44 year: 29.0%
  • 45 to 64 years: 19.6%
  • 65 years of age or older: 12.0%

The median age is 32 years.

For every 100 females there are 93.1 males, while for every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.6 males.


The median income for a household in the city is $27,423, and the median income for a family is $34,978. Males have a median income of $30,816 versus $24,937 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,547. 23.0% of the population and 18.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 32.0% of those under the age of 18 and 15.3% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

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