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01/11/2010

In the Hopes of Rising Again


DaytonskylineDayton, Ohio is the city of my birth, and the city I live in now.  I grew up in a suburb north of the city, but when I was 20, my parents moved to the city, and grew enamored with it.  I loved their old house with all its character, and how close they were to downtown, and I started becoming really interested in Dayton history.  I even did an independent study project in college on John H. Patterson, the founder of Dayton's National Cash Register Company (NCR).  I touted Dayton to my college friends as a great place to live.  And as soon as I graduated, I headed back there, got married, and moved to an apartment in the city.  A little over a year later, my husband and I bought an old city house of our own, and we still live there today.  And we still love it.  Our neighbors on both sides of our house are also young families who have lived here even longer than we have.  It is a great place to live, not perfect, but we are content here.

But the sad truth is that Dayton is not what it once was.  It was an industrial hotbed through much of the 1900's, the place where the cash register, the electric ignition system for cars, the airplane (yes, that's right North Carolina, the Wright Brothers invented the airplane HERE!), and even the gloriously delicious Cheez-It were invented.  But the once-bustling factories are empty now, and our city, the victim of "progress" - businesses moving production somewhere that's better for their bottom line.  So many of Dayton's beautiful old neighborhoods are half-dead or worse as well, with it's former citizens eyeing the suburbs, newer houses with bigger lawns, better school districts and the like.  Urban sprawl has resulted in a city whose population and tax revenues are shrinking.

2009 was not a good year for my city.  We lost some big businesses - the aforementioned National Cash Register is moving it's headquarters to Georgia, and General Motors (GM), an employer in this area for years and years, shut its plant here completely.  Hundreds of people in our area are without jobs or moving away, and that makes this girl, whose own grandparents moved here from Eastern Kentucky in 1950 precisely so my grandfather could take a job at Frigidaire (whose operation became GM), more than a little sad.

I drive down the snowy streets of my urban neighborhood, and I hope and pray for better things for Dayton in 2010.  We elected a new mayor in November, and he was sworn in just a couple of days ago.  I am excited to see what developments his efforts will bring about for our city.  And I am hoping that new businesses will rise up to take the places of the ones who have left, that other young families will find some of the city's old houses to love, and that ten years from now, "progress" will have truly become just that for the Gem City.

This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post.

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Photo of downtown Dayton: vistavision on Flickr

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