Youngstown was named for John Young of Whitestown, New York, who surveyed the region in 1796 and settled along the Mahoning River soon after.(1)(13.A) On February 7, 1797, Young purchased the township of 15,560 acres from the Western Reserve Land Company for $16,085.(2) Youngstown was formally established on August 19, 1802.(3)(11) The area was part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, a section of the Northwest Territory reserved for settlers from Connecticut.(3.A) While many of the settlers derived from the northeast, it also attracted a large following of Scottish and Irish from Pennsylvania.(3.B)
In 1800, territorial governor Authur St. Clair established Trumbull County, named in honor of Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, and designated Warren as the county seat.(3.C) In 1813, the county was divided into townships, with Youngstown Township comprising much of what later became Mahoning County.(3.D) The village of Youngstown was incorporated in 1848 and became a city in 1867.(2.A)(11) It became the county seat in 1876 when the administrative center moved from Canfield.(2.A)
Industrial development began early for Youngstown, especially after the discovery of coal reserves in the region. The first blast furnace was completed in 1803 by James and Daniel Heaton.(3.J) The Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal Company was founded on November 13, 1833 after 109 delegates at a convention in Warren, Ohio decided to privately fund an 82-mile canal New Castle, Pennsylvania to Akron.(4) Construction began on September 17, 1835 at Portage Summit between Kent and Ravenna, Ohio (5)(6) and was dedicated on August 4, 1840. The canal passed through Youngstown, which was vital to industrialist David Tod who persuaded Lake Erie steamboat owners that coal mined in Mahoning County could fuel their boats. A railroad that was completed in 1856 furthered industrialization of the valley.(3.E)(11)
The rise of industry led to mass immigration to Youngstown, especially those of Wales, German and Irish descent, and later those from eastern Europe, Italy and Greece.(3.F) The first steel plant, the Youngstown Rolling Mill Company, was constructed in 1846.(3.H) By the middle of the century, the city was home to several iron mills, including David Tod’s Brier Hill Iron & Coal Company.(3.G) By the early 20th century, many of the mills were converting into steel producing plants and were consolidating.(3.I) In 1900, the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company was founded by George D. Wick and James A. Campbell to ensure that there would be local ownership in the region’s industrial sector. It was an important consideration, considering that a year later, U.S. Steel was founded and absorbed with Youngstown’s largest mill, the National Steel Company.
The boundaries of Youngstown consisted originally of today’s downtown, Smoky Hollow, Arlington and Mahoning Commons, but grew out to the East Side, Wick Park, River Bend and Oak Hill neighborhoods by 1880.(13.A) By 1900, Hazelton, Lower Gibson, Erie, Warren, Steelton and Brier Hill had been added, followed by Buckeye, Lansingville, Salt Springs and Belle Vista in 1910. A major expansion in 1929 encompassed the entire township adding Kirkmere, Idora, Schenley, Landsdowne, North Heights, Sharon Line, Lincoln Knolls, Browniee Woods and Pleasant Grove neighborhoods. There was no further expansion of the borders, sans a small annexation in 1997 to accommodate a correctional facility, due to resistance from the suburbs and neighboring townships.
A comprensive plan adopted in 1951, and amended in 1974, projected much growth in the city to the tune of 200,000 to 250,000 residents.(13.A)(13.B) Much land at the fringes of the city, approximately 12,000 acres, was reserved for housing. At its peak in 1960, Youngstown boasted the highest household income per capita in the United States.(12) And for the planners, there was little reason to worry. Reconstruction was ongoing in western Europe and Japan in the 1950s, and the Korean War was ongoing, and thus the demand for domestic steel was strong.(13.B)
But diversification of the local economy never occurred, and Youngstown was known for its blue collar workforce that worked for the steel mills.(8.A) In 1969, Youngstown Sheet and Tube merged with Lykes Corporation, based out of New Orleans, Louisiana, that burdened the company with a large debt load.(8.2) The steel industry in the United States was generally on the decline due to competition and newer mills that used electric-arc furnaces The company abruptly closed its Campbell Works and laid off 5,000 workers on September 19, 1977 in what was called “Black Monday.”(7) The Brier Hill Works were sold to Jones and Laughlin Steel, later purchased by Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) that closed in 1979. U.S. Steel closed its facilities beginning in 1979 and into 1980, and Republic Steel went bankrupt in the mid-1980s.(9.A)
In total, Youngstown lost an estimated 40,000 manufacturing jobs, 400 satellite businesses and $414 million in personal income,(9.B) and has never recovered fully.(10.A)
Today, the city is known for Youngstown State University (YSU), a liberal art and research-oriented university with 15,000 students located immediately north of downtown. The Youngstown Business Incubator is located on West Federal Street and houses several start-up technology-oriented companies, some of which have been large financial successes. Nearby is the Butler Institute of American Art, the first museum of American art whose collections exceed 20,000 items, and the Powers Auditorium, a former Warner Brothers theater.(11) Other attractions include the DeYor Performing Arts Center and the Covelli Centre.
The city has begun to embrace its lower population figures. After peaking at 168,330 in 1950, it holds at around 66,000 for 2011 and may be bottoming out if recent trends hold. Because of the much lower density, Youngstown has implemented the Youngstown 2010 Plan, a detailed comprehensive plan that set out specific policies to guide the city. The goals were to create a smaller, greener, cleaner and more efficient Youngstown.(13)
- “Knowing Youngstown: John Young’s Land Purchase.” Youngstown Daily Vindicator 15 Oct. 1924: 7. Print.
- The Bicentennial Commission of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio, and Howard C. Alley. A Heritage to Share: The Bicentennial History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. Youngstown: 28-29, 1975. Print.
- pg. 98-99.
- Blue, Frederick J., Jenkins, William D., Lawson, William H., Reedy, Joan M. Mahoning Memories: A History of Youngstown and Mahoning County. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning: 15-16, 1995. Print.
- pg. 13.
- pg. 15.
- pg. 17-18.
- pg. 18.
- pg. 35-36.
- pg. 69.
- pg. 37.
- pg. 42.
- pg. 94.
- pg. 20.
- PRR CHRONOLOGY: 1833. N.p., June 2004. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Adkins, Wendy J. “Penn & Ohio.” Heartland. N.p., 1997. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Holland, Jeri. ”Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal.” History of Akron & Summit County. N.p., 2011. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Ehmann, Carl. “Brief History and Description Of the Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal
1835-1873.” Unpublished essay, May 1992. Cuyahoga Falls Archives.
- Ehmann, Carl. “Brief History and Description Of the Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal
- Christie, Les. “The incredible shrinking city.” CNNMoney. N.p., 24 Apr. 2008. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Fuechtmann, Thomas G. Steeples and Stacks: Religion and Steel Crisis in Youngstown. New York: Cambridge University Press: 1989. Print.
- pg. 16.
- pg. 41-43.
- Bruno, Robert. Steelworker Alley: How Class Works in Youngstown. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press: 1989. Print.
- pg. 9-10.
- pg. 149.
- Linkon, Sherry Lee, Russo, John. Steeltown U.S.A.: Work & Memory in Youngstown. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas: 2002.
- pg. 131-132.
- “History.” City of Youngstown, Ohio. N.p. 2012. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. Article.
- “Neighborhoods.” City of Youngstown, Ohio. N.p. 2012. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. Article.
- “Youngstown 2010 Plan.” City of Youngstown, Ohio. N.p. 2012. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. Article.