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Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley

Youngstown, with 80,000 residents, is one of the main cities in the state of Ohio. Youngstown is located in the northeast region of the state, near the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Mahoning River flows through downtown Youngstown, and eventually joins the larger Ohio River. Youngstown is the central city of the Mahoning Valley, a metropolitan area with 700,000 inhabitants.

Native Americans were the first inhabitants of the Mahoning Valley, and the word "Mahoning" is derived from another Indian word meaning "at the salt lick". Various Native American tribes have inhabited the rivers and land of the Mahoning Valley over the past 15,000 years, using the area for its abundance of salt, flint, and hunting opportunties. When European explorers reached this area of North America, the region was considered to be between the lands of the Iroquois and the Shawnee tribes.

John Young purchased 15,560 acres of the Western Reserve claimed by the state of Connecticut, and in 1797, founded the community of Youngstown along the Mahoning River. Daniel and James Heaton became the area's first industrialists as they built the Hopewell Furnace in 1802 to smelt metal using the area's rich coal deposits. The iron industry of the area grew as transportation and infrastructure developments were made. Canals were built in the 1820s and railroads were constructed in the 1850s linking the Mahoning Valley to the rest of the country. The area's first steel mill began operation in 1892 in Youngstown.

downtown in 1910

Postcard, Downtown Youngstown in 1910

Youngstown and the "Steel Valley" quickly became one of the largest manufacturing regions in the United States. Many immigrants from Europe settled in the area to find work in local industry. By 1920, Youngstown was the 50th largest U.S. city by population and was the second largest steel producing area in the country, with nearby Pittsburgh being the largest. The region continued to gain population and wealth during the Second World War and by this time, Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley had several thriving Slovak neighborhoods, with Slovak-Americans contributing to the cultural heritage of the area.

In the second half of the 20th century, Youngstown's manufacturing base declined as foreign competition, business costs, industry consolidation, and moderinization issues produced complications for local businesses. Other sectors of the economy such as logistics and distribution, precision manufacturing, and software development have become important components of Youngstown's regional economy.

Besides its industrial heritage, Youngstown is today known for many outstanding attributes. One is Mill Creek Park, filled with natural wooded landscapes, flowering gardens, and recreational activites located in the heart of the city. Another is Youngstown State University, whose campus downtown has 13,000 students enrolled in various studies. The neighborhoods of Youngstown contain many churches and restaurants that reflect the cultural influences of immigrants throughout the city's existence.

mill creek park

Youngstown continues to be the commercial, educational, and cultural center of the Mahoning Valley.

The mayor of Youngstown is John A. McNally, and the website of the city council can be found at: www.cityofyoungstownoh.org

The city of Youngstown and Youngstown State University have recently coordinated their efforts to create a master plan to guide their efforts in the coming decades. This plan can be accessed at www.youngstown2010.com


revised 10-Feb-2014