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Guest Jeff

Dayton: Lower South Park/Older South Park

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It’s not really called that, that’s what I call it since this area is sort of lower down in elevation than the rest of the South Park neighborhood (though I will be looking at a bit of “upper South Park” too)…what I will show you is basically the area north of Hickory and also between Main and Warren south to Miami Valley Hospital. 

 

LowerSouthPark.jpg

 

LSP.jpg

 

 

Starting out with the early plats of Dayton.  Daniel Cooper platted this area out by 1812 as out-lots.  As in the Oregon and elsewhere in east Dayton the Cooper out-lots are the palimpsest of the modern street grid. 

 

Dayton1920a.jpg

 

1820on1868.jpg

 

 

What is interesting is Brown Street,  which  originally ran off at an angle as it left what was  to become the Oregon.  It was eventually cut through to connect with Warren Street, thus the original alignment became “Old Brown Street”, today’s Morton Street.

 

Dayton1820b.jpg

 

What drove this odd out-lot configuration, which ran off at an angle along Hickory Street?  I think this line of out-lots followed the low bluff or rise that curves through east Dayton.  More noticeable at places like Fairground Hill or St Anne Hill /Dutoit Street it passes through South Park, too.   Daniel Cooper was, according to early accounts,  very aware of the possibilies of water power, and perhaps saw this location as an opportunity for mill sites if water could be brought to the rise.

 

daytonbluff.jpg

 

This didn’t happen at this location, but Seely’s Ditch was cut through just below the bluff,  which kicked off the first plats of townlots in the area (from the 1830s).  Portions of Lower South Park where platted by 1839

 

1839plat.jpg

 

The line of Seely’s Ditch as it passes through Lower South Park:

 

LSPX1.jpg

 

By 1868/69 much of the area had been platted, but actual construction lagged the platting a bit.   As one can see by this map Lower South Park was sort of an extension of the Oregon District as the city grew to the south.

 

Innereast1.jpg

 

 

Here is a map showing lots that where built on by 1868/69,  illustrating the physical growth  of Dayton up to that time.   This is not really a figure-ground map but just shows build-out up to that time.  This is the old 19th century antebellum and Civil-War era city,  Dayton before the horse car and streetcar:

 

Innereast2.jpg

 

And the pattern without the base map, as a diagram of urban growth

 

Innereast3.jpg

 

…which represents some of the oldest housing in Dayton.   Incidentally one of the first horse car lines in Dayton passed through here on Brown Street (the Oakwood Street Railway). 

 

By the 1930s Downtown and its fringe was impinging on both the Oregon and Lower South Park as part of the urban recycling process, replacing housing with buisiness,  especially in the area along Main and Warren along the old canal…later Patterson Blvd.  Older houses where also being replaced by apartments and sort of rowhouses.

 

Brown Street remained a main route into the city, which would have been experienced as traveling through increasingly dense neighborhoods as one got closer to downtown.

 

CBDEncroachment.jpg

 

 

The big hit came with the postwar urban renewal and expressway construction, which decimated the early and mid-19th century neighborhoods of Dayton.

 

erosion.jpg

 

A close-up of how this affected Lower South Park.  Brown Street as the route connecting South Park with the Oregon was severed, and the US 35 Expressway formed a barrier between the neighborhoods, or perhaps created a barrier as Lower South Park might be considered to have been an extension of the Oregon.

 

LSPX2.jpg

 

The Expressway voiding urban space and breaking the city, on Buckeye Street, which was itself made to conform to highway engineering via widening and curving…

 

Buckeye.jpg

 

The 1950s planners’ future for the Oregon and Lower South Park:  public housing.  This and a project in the Oregon where to be the start of the replacement of these neighborhoods via urban renewal

 

Projects1.jpg

 

Projects2.jpg

 

Lower South Park as of 1980.   Some historic features overplayed on the map, showing how Seely’s ditch remains in ghost form as the Burns Street parkway, and how Brown Street was obliterated by public housing and the expressway.   A big block was also removed to form a park next to & behind the old Emerson School on Hickory Street.

 

Dayton’s great neighborhood market (our West Side Market) on Wayne Avenue was right in the path of the expressway so was razed.

 

LSPX3.jpg

 

The same neighborhood in 1868/69

 

LSPX4.jpg

 

..and a modern tour of oldest South Park, of some houses on Hickory, Bonner and other parts…

 

OldSouthParkPixm.jpg

 

 

Hickory Street

 

A lot of this street is somewhat “newer”, dating from the later 19th century and later, but a few oldies remain….

 

Perhaps one of the oldest houses in South Park?  It sits on an 1845 plat, and bears a family resemblance to certain Oregon houses

 

OSP1.jpg

 

…the Oregon twins, of which the above house is a cousin:

 

OregonNDLS1.jpg

 

Hickory Street streetscape:

 

OSP2.jpg

 

OSP4.jpg

 

What one sees here is sort of the Dayton version of the “workingman’s cottage” one finds in Chicago.   In early Chicago these where built on the outskirts of the city, just like these in Dayton.  Another way of looking at these is as the Dayton version of the shotgun house.  If these are the original houses on the lots we can say this house form had appeared in Dayton by 1868… perhaps these are some of the earliest examples.

 

OSP3.jpg

 

OSP5.jpg.

 

Bonner Street

 

Platted in 1851.  On the 1869 map this block of Bonner shows as mostly built-out.  But I think there is some urban recycling going on there.

 

Two probably original houses on Bonner

 

OSP6.jpg

 

And an example of recycling.  What is probably an old house from the original plat (and one that looks a lot like samples in the Oregon) next to what is probably a later 19th century foursquare that replaced earlier housing.

 

OSP7.jpg

 

More Bonner Street.  The one on the far left is post WWII.

 

OSP8.jpg

 

Two more Bonner Street houses as examples of the Dayton working class cottage.  These are probably what was originally on this street, probably the one on the left is older and the one on the right was infill as an example of “doubling up” on one lot.

 

OSP9.jpg

 

OSP10.jpg

 

Taking a look at two other clusters as an example of the genesis of South Park…this further down on Hickory. 

 

SP2G1.jpg

 

SPG2.jpg

 

On set is perhaps older than the other. 

 

SPG.jpg

 

Old Brown/Morton & Hickory

 

The heavily modified “1840 House”.  Very possibly the oldest in South Park,  the heavy front porch and window modifications obscure a family resemblance to old Oregon houses.

 

SPG3.jpg

 

Oregon Houses:

 

Oregon21853.jpg

 

Oregon.jpg

 

1840 House

 

SPII_1840c.jpg

 

SPII_1840b.jpg

 

SPII_1840a.jpg

 

The 1840s House’s neighbors:

 

SPII5a.jpg

 

 

SPG4.jpg

 

SPII5c.jpg

 

SPG6.jpg

 

SPII5b.jpgblue house pix

 

On the alley….

SPG7.jpg

 

SPII4.jpg

 

Across the street (and this one is between 1860 and 1869..Civil War era)

SPG5.jpg

 

SPII6.jpg

 

Hickory and Brown and Alberta Street.  All of these are between 1860 and 1869

 

SPG8.jpg

 

SPII1.jpg

 

SPG9.jpg

 

SPII2a.jpg

 

SPII2b.jpg

 

SPII3a.jpg

 

SP2G10.jpg

..the brick porch is probably a lot later than the house.

 

SPII3b.jpg

 

SPII3c.jpg

 

SP2G11.jpg

…I think this one has been heavily remodeled.

 

SPII3d.jpg

 

 

 

Taking a walk in Lower South Park

 

So far its been Urban Analysis on Hickory Street.  Lets just walk down the bluff and wander around this Lower South Park.   

 

LSP2.jpg

 

LSP1.jpg

 

LSP3.jpg

 

Burns Street…route of the Seely’s Ditch canal

 

LSP4.jpg

 

LSP5.jpg

 

Big houses on the rise overlooking Burns…

 

LSP6.jpg

 

Funky angles here as Brown meets “Old Brown” streets

 

LSP7.jpg

 

Dense Urban Dayton

 

LSP8.jpg

 

On Buckeye Street….

 

LSP9.jpg

 

LSP10.jpg

 

Large vacant lot.  We are in one of Dayton’s “zones of destruction”, where there is housing abandonment and demolition going on.

 

LSP11.jpg

 

 

LSP13.jpg

 

As the expressway wall blocks us from the Oregon, we turn back into Lower South Park

 

LSP12.jpg

 

 

LSP14.jpg

 

“The Zone of Destruction”

 

LSP15.jpg

 

LSP18.jpg

 

 

LSP16.jpg

 

Dayton Sawed-Off Shotguns…

 

LSP17.jpg

 

LSP19.jpg

 

LSP20.jpg

 

Crossing Warren:   side streets between  Warren and Main in the shadow of Miami Valley Hospital

 

LSP21.jpg

 

LSP23.jpg

 

The little house in the foreground is probably original to this street

 

LSP24.jpg

 

Funky staircase

 

LSP25.jpg

 

Early doubles from the 1860s

 

LSP26.jpg

 

LSP29.jpg

 

Dayton vernacular

 

LSP27.jpg

 

Maybe one of the last of its type to be built in Dayton

 

LSP28.jpg

 

And back across Warren to Burns, showing what urban renewal had in mind

 

The Wayne Street Market building would have been straight ahead, exactly where the freeway is now

 

LSP31.jpg

 

The urban renewal vision….towers in a park, ringed by freeways…..(but a nice little walkway across the expressway to the Oregon)

 

LSP32.jpg

 

What we’d rather have….(or maybe not?)

 

LSP30.jpg

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Great job Jeff. Do most Dayton people realize the historical significance of these houses? Are these places largely owner occupied, or are they rentals?

 

Do most people?  Hell no.

 

Do the historical-geared urbanists aka UrbanOhioans?  Yes.

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Some adjustments to the thread header.

 

 

...and to answer Convovercourt:

 

 

A big portion of South Park is a "historic disrtrict" (Dayton's largest) and there has been gentrification going on here.  Most of what I'm showing isn't in that district, though, and isn't focused around the highlight of the district, which is parkway or boulevard a few block to the south of the area I'm featuring.  You can probably see pix of that elsewhere on this board.

 

My interest here is sort of "archeological"..the  continuatation and evolution and appearance of certain forms of vernacular working class architecture in Dayton, as well as the urban fabric or morphology of the pre-mass transit city.

 

This isn't really"historic" as this type of building doesn't really have artistic signifigance.

 

 

 

 

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SPII_1840a.jpg

 

 

This house, Jeff hilighted, has a brick-lined tunnel that extends from behind a finished wall in the basement partially out toward the Morton/Hickory intersection and stops. Doesn't really go far, maybe 10 feet and is sealed. People have speculated it was part of the slavery and underground railroad era or something to do with prohibition. I have only seen it once. This house was being worked on over the last summer, but I'm not sure what the current plans are for it now. The front of the house has settled so bad that the porch overhang on the picture window have a very noticable lean back on them.

 

I'm rummaging through some of Jeff's old Dayton threads and just commenting on whatever I think I know something about. :)

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Jeff, your threads are always so well researched and insightful.  Thank you for the time you put into them.  Dayton's vernacular is very interesting, especially that first house.  What is the logic behind that layout?

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This house, Jeff hilighted, has a brick-lined tunnel that extends from behind a finished wall in the basement partially out toward the Morton/Hickory intersection and stops. Doesn't really go far, maybe 10 feet and is sealed. People have speculated it was part of the slavery and underground railroad era or something to do with prohibition. I have only seen it once. This house was being worked on over the last summer, but I'm not sure what the current plans are for it now. The front of the house has settled so bad that the porch overhang on the picture window have a very noticable lean back on them.

 

I just thought of something that was recently told to me, but not relating to this house (137 Morton) that gave me a second thought of what the tunnel was. Since Jeff said it was 1840s, it could have very well been underground (or indoor) access to a water well from the basement. It was ultimately sealed up when the city ran sewer lines. Just a guess.

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Well, it’s official.  The plan is to totally destroy "Lower South Park" and replace it with…patio homes?

 

 

As part of the housing component of a downtown planning effort the local redevelopment quango Citywide Development Corporation offered their “Midpark” plan for the area between Miami Valley Hospital and Downtown.  This was developed by their Neighborhood Development Strategic Planning Group (NDSPGP) which…

 

“…is a volunteer committee created and administered through CWD. NDSPG has been a valuable brain trust of priority board, business, government, and educational leaders and appeared to be a perfect fit to begin looking for the next neighborhood development project. The task of NDSPG over the last 6 months has been to outline a plan for a redevelopment project that could be included within the Greater Downtown Plan and highlighted within the housing section of that plan.”

 

If this is the best and brightest thinking  in Dayton when it comes to urban regeneration we are so fucked.

 

The plan has specific recommendations for that “Lower South Park” neighborhood between Warren Street and the park, south of the US 35 expresway. 

 

”The proposed concept for the MidPark neighborhood is a complete demolition (outside of the houses on Buckeye St.), re•plot, and rebuild. For this reason, all land must me acquired and held by a single entity in order to be a viable and attractive site for a developer.

 

A strategy for quietly acquiring property needs to be determined including the

roles and responsibilities for the City of Dayton and CityWide Development Corporation as well as potential funding sources.

 

After the demolition of properties within the neighborhood, there will presumably be a need for updated infrastructure. This is an opportunity to have a clean slate to modernize any sewage and water lines if needed, bury utility lines, update lighting, and reconfigure the streets to alter the flow in and out of the area in a manner that better suits the style and design of the new neighborhood.

 

The City of Dayton has a wide varietyof housing options to offer buyers, but lack one style that is becoming increasingly popular – a low maintenance or patio style home. Dayton will continue to lose residents looking for this type of housing to our suburban counterparts if we do start building this product.

 

So there you have it.  Clean Slate.  Not even the streets would remain.  The concept is to replace this quirky little neighborhood with a suburban patio home development.  Can you believe this.  Have we learned nothing since the wholesale urban renewal clearances of the 1960s?

 

Probably the ultimate comment, an affront to historical references and long memory of placenames,  is the suggestion to re-name Warren Street Brown Street since the current street names are  “too confusing”.  Warren was called that since pioneer times since it went toward Warren County.  Brown Street used to go "through" to the Oregon.  But it's all too confusing for modern Daytonians.  Just wow.

 

 

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I like the part about "quietly aquiring the property".  Don't want to:

a) alarm the residents

b) raise property values as absentee owners hold out for more $$$

 

 

 

 

 

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I really hope they don't flatten this part of South Park. I like the odd street angles and quirky houses. My roommate was looking at a few houses around that area. The empty houses there are very cheap.

 

What happened to the Haymarket might happen again. History repeats itself.

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The report recommends focusing some of the demolition money the city is getting on this area. Some of the things in these pix are already down.

Yeah, I've seen that. With the eventual move of Coco's to that area, why on earth would they tear down some of the more interesting buildings. I wonder if the Coco's move is part of the plan.... They also talk about a Brown to Oregon/Downtown streetcar that would certainly stop right around there.

 

I'm rehabbing and quality, neighborhood appropriate infill. All of South Park looked like this at some point. The area isn't even that big. Let the economy build back up and make some incentives for people to move in.

 

I wonder when/if Esrati will blog on this. I'm interested in his thoughts since he is anti-demolition.

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And they can't seriously change those street angles without demolishing everything. The street angles make for some great views. I especially like the corner where Hickory and Morton come together.

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^

The intention is a clean slate so I figure there might be one or two streets that will be kept.

 

 

Esrati is focused on his commissioner campaign so I'd be suprised to see any comments from him on this particular plan.  I posted some comments on this over at Dayton Most Metro: Housing Thread

 

 

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So there you have it.  Clean Slate.  Not even the streets would remain.  The concept is to replace this quirky little neighborhood with a suburban patio home development.  Can you believe this.  Have we learned nothing since the wholesale urban renewal clearances of the 1960s?

 

Wow, f$&king unbelievable. This should never happen, and I don't think it would happen in most cities these days. Everything they wrote makes it sound like they want a total suburban transformation- entirely erase the past, even the street grid. Isn't there an urban movement in Dayton? Are people protesting this? Is there a neighborhood development corporation/council trying to preserve the place?

 

”The proposed concept for the MidPark neighborhood is a complete demolition (outside of the houses on Buckeye St.), re•plot, and rebuild. For this reason, all land must me acquired and held by a single entity in order to be a viable and attractive site for a developer.

 

Sounds shady to me. Who gets rich off this?

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Sounds shady to me. Who gets rich off this?

 

We'll find out when the project is sent to a developer.  An interesting sidebar is that one of the major campaign contributors in this seasons political race  (to the incumbent mayor and city commissioner) is a demoltion contractor in Columbus.  Both the mayor and councilmember are advocates of demolition.

 

Isn't there an urban movement in Dayton? Are people protesting this? Is there a neighborhood development corporation/council trying to preserve the place?

 

The way it works in Dayton is that people only give a sh!t if its in their little historic district or their little neighborhood.  There is minimal appreciation of the urban fabric as whole.  The power structure...and even neighborhood activists...are really quite ignorant, I've come to believe, when it comes to a more sophisticated appreciation of urbanism, vernacular architecture and the urban fabric.

 

Sure I can understand there would be a need to do replacement housing.  But replacing it with a suburban concept to compete with suburbia. by becoming like suburbia...well, that's smart on one level and stupid on another.

 

I've pretty much given up on Dayton and dumb sh!t like this is one reason.  I really appreciate Urban Ohio is around because at least at this board there are enough people that "get it". 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I understand sometimes there's no realistic option but demolition, but why aren't they rebuilding it in an urban fashion? Other cities have done that (and more and more are starting to "get it"). They keep the same streets and same plots. These are nice, narrow urban streets that could support mixed use and dense housing. Why do they have to redo the entire street layout and make it a damn suburban area? The journalist in me says this is probably an example of political corruption. I think it's a "you slap my ass, I slap yours" type of deal. This is a huge project in a city like Dayton. If that demolition contractor gets the bid, it will be fairly obvious. I think we will see some connections to the yet-to-be-named suburban developer too.

 

Sure I can understand there would be a need to do replacement housing.  But replacing it with a suburban concept to compete with suburbia. by becoming like suburbia...well, that's smart on one level and stupid on another.

 

It's stupid, because then Dayton will be left with nothing to set it apart from the suburbs. And I hardly think it will attract people back from the suburbs. That's wishful thinking to say the least. Dayton's "best and brightest" came up with this trash idea? Yeah, I guess you're right in saying the city is f$&ked..."Neighborhood Development Strategic Planning Group" my ass. This isn't development. This is self-destruction. This is an insult to everything an urban development corporation is supposed to be. This is suburban.

 

The way it works in Dayton is that people only give a sh!t if its in their little historic district or their little neighborhood.  There is minimal appreciation of the urban fabric as whole.

 

They need to do what some other cities are doing, which is to consolidate community development corporations and preservation groups, not compete with one another. People who care about urban development and preservation need to understand they're all fighting the same fight. They've got enough competition elsewhere...

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^I'm not sure I follow. Do you mean the demolitions will be canceled or the cockeyed scheme they had in mind will take decades to get off the ground?

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Yes.  Shit that has been talked about being demolished has been up (and will be up) for years.  Dayton is Ohio's most apathetic city and isn't on the demolishion train like Detroit unless there is a hospital involved.

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Oh, they are going to conitnue with the demolitions on a piecmeal basis, but the city has been pretty ineffective in doing these big package-deal projects (as in the Wayne & Wyoming fiasco)

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I've always wanted to call this area Southtown (south park + downtown = southtown).  Preservation Dayton (it's a group) tries to tie the urban fabric together but no one can compete with MVH.  I think it'd be best to fight for a better future in this area after demolition b/c I don't think demolition is going to be stopped, the neighborhood is too far gone....but I think the whole area south of 35 between the river and South Park needs to be included in the renewal.

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Maybe it was nice..now it's becoming quite empty!

 

They tore down that housing project in the pix, and its now a fairly extensive lawn with a few trees (part of the project landscaping but saved when they tore out the buildings and pavements).

 

So there is this nice big de-facto park, which could be extended if they tear out the rest of the houses and also take out the streets, and sod and seed the vacant spots.

 

This area  could be a big urban park between South Park and US 35.

 

 

 

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Walking by the storefronts in the Oregon District, a landscape architecture firm has one of these and different site plans are posted for 'MidPark', which looks like it will be that old housing project site.  Fairly unispired stuff, from what I can tell. Blocky buidlings and landscaped parking lots.  It looks maybe suburban, maybe "Greene" -esque at best.

 

Too bad because that project site is a nice parklike area now.  I dont know why they dont just retain it as a big neighborhood park.  Something they dont have enough of in Dayton

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Jeffery,

 

I couldn't help but notice the similarities between this project and the pending MSD Lick-Run project in the South Fairmount area of Cincinnati. There the local bureaucrats are proposing the demolition of over 50 historic structures so they can "daylight" a buried stormwater run-off and sewer drain to comply with an EPA order. Supporters of the project (the mayor and neighborhood council members) propose leveling the historic homes and buildings to create a large green urban space with (as yet undecided) additional new development-so it seems like there's plenty of short-sighted planning to go around regionally. Local preservationists are appalled that saving any of the historic structures isn't even being considered in the plans. (despite some threatened homes and buildings being included in national register eligible surveys) The potential pocket-lining for those with a stake in the publicly funded project (demo contractors, developers) is just as bothersome as is speculated in Dayton's example. Of course, Cincinnati does have the shadowy legacy of "Boss" George Cox who was an icon of corrupt cronyism and back room deals a century ago.  His spirit is probably smiling these days.

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