The History of Dayton

When the Meskhetian Turks fled to the U.S., many wound up in Dayton, Ohio. With a population of over 141,000 people, this bustling city is the sixth-largest city in Ohio and serves as Montgomery County’s county seat. The city has a long history, and was once a hub for manufacturing, shipping and supply.


The History of Dayton

Origin and Establishment

On April 1, 1796, The Thompson Party founded the city of Dayton. The group had traveled from Cincinnati in March, making their way up the Great Miami River. They landed on modern-day St. Clair Street where they came across two Native American camps.

Benjamin Van Cleve was a part of the group. His memoirs offer an inside look into the history of the Ohio Valley.

Several days later, two other groups arrived.

Daniel C. Cooper created plans for Mad River Road in 1797, which would be the first overland connection between Dayton and Cincinnati.

Ohio would be added to the Union in 1803. Dayton would be incorporated in 1805.

The city was named after the Revolutionary War Captain Jonathan Dayton, who signed the Constitution. He also owned a large portion of the land in the area.

Growth and Innovation

Dayton grew and thrived on the back of innovation. It has traditionally been the home of inventions and patents since the 1870s. Both the Wright Brothers and Charles F. Kettering were from Dayton.


Other famous inventors from the city include Arthur E. Morgan (inventor of the hydraulic jump) and James Ritty (inventor of the first mechanical cash register). Paul Laurence Dunbar also wrote his most famous works in Dayton.

Innovation would lead to growth in the city.

In 1913, the Great Flood led to the establishment of the Miami Conservancy District, which was a series of hydraulic jumps and dams installed in 1914.

Dayton was involved in the war effort of World War II. These efforts led to a boom in manufacturing in the city. Demand for housing was so great, emergency housing had to be put in place. Many of those homes are still in use today.

Population Spike in the 1940s – 1970s

Between 1940 and 1970, Dayton saw a significant increase in the population in its suburban areas. Veterans who returned home from the war went to Dayton in search of manufacturing and industrial jobs.

Modern shopping centers were also built and the creation of the Interstate Highway System allowed for longer work commutes. Families were then able to move further outside the city center.

In the 1950s, over 127,000 homes were built in Dayton alone.

Modern Dayton

The city’s population has been on the decline since the 1980s, as manufacturing jobs have moved overseas. In fact, Dayton had the third-largest percentage loss of population in Ohio.

An expansion of the city’s downtown area in 2000 has helped revive Dayton and boost growth. The Downtown Dayton Partnership was signed in 2010, which aims to improve job growth and retention as well as infrastructure, housing and recreation. The plan will be implemented through 2020.