Everything About Dayton, Ohio


Dayton, Ohio was founded in 1796 by a group of settlers from Cincinnati. The city was named after Jonathan Dayton, one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution and a captain during the Revolutionary War. Dayton was incorporated as a town in 1805 and as a city in 1841.

In the 19th century, Dayton became an important industrial hub, aided by its location at the confluence of the Great Miami, Stillwater, and Mad Rivers. The Miami and Erie Canal, completed in 1845, connected Dayton to Lake Erie and expanded the city’s commercial opportunities.

The National Road, which passed through Dayton, also stimulated economic growth. By 1860, Dayton had emerged as a flourishing industrial city with numerous mills, factories, machine shops, and foundries.

The most significant turning point in Dayton’s history came with the Great Flood of 1913. After a series of storms, the Miami River crested at over 20 feet above flood level, inundating much of downtown.

The flood spurred the creation of a flood protection system as well as a city planning initiative led by John Nolen that reshaped Dayton around broad boulevards, parks, and neighborhoods.

During World War II, Dayton played a pivotal role in U.S. innovation and manufacturing. Numerous Dayton-area companies were involved in wartime production, including National Cash Register which produced code-breaking machines.

The top-secret Manhattan Project also relied on Dayton-made products. After the war, Dayton remained a research and development hub, serving as the home for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Dayton endured several economic challenges in the late 20th century as heavy manufacturing declined across the Rust Belt. But the city has rebounded as a center for advanced manufacturing, research, healthcare, and education.

The philanthropy and community engagement of local companies and families, such as the Wright brothers and the Kettering family, has also shaped Dayton’s revitalization.


Dayton is located in southwestern Ohio at the confluence of four major rivers: the Great Miami, Mad, Stillwater, and Wolf Creek Rivers. This convergence of waterways historically made Dayton an ideal place for settlement and facilitated commerce via river transport.

Dayton sits approximately 55 miles northeast of Cincinnati and 72 miles west of Columbus. The city has a total area of around 56.6 square miles.

Dayton is situated in the Miami Valley region, a broad floodplain created by an ancient buried river valley. The valley has extremely fertile soil and a temperate climate that enabled prosperous farming and agriculture.

Topographically, Dayton is relatively flat with some gentle hills and valleys. Elevation ranges from around 715 feet above sea level along the Great Miami River up to around 1,000 feet in certain east and southeast sections of the city. Urban development radiates out from downtown Dayton across the valley floor.

Dayton has a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. The Miami Valley helps moderate temperatures. Dayton receives around 37.7 inches of precipitation annually and has an average annual temperature of approx. 51 degrees Fahrenheit.


The geology underlying Dayton dates back over 400 million years to the Ordovician Period when most of Ohio was covered by a shallow sea. This ancient sea deposited layers of limestone, shale, and sandstone. These sedimentary rocks still characterize Dayton’s geology today.

Later, around 2 million years ago, the Teays River formed a major valley system stretching from North Carolina to Illinois. The Teays River Valley was buried and filled by glacial activity during the last ice age. Today, this buried Teays Valley creates the gentle rolling terrain of the Miami Valley where Dayton is situated.

Dayton sits on top of limestone bedrock, in particular the Lexington Limestone and Kope Formation. These carbonate rocks produce karst terrain, prone to sinking streams, springs, and sinkholes.

The Great Miami River cut down through the bedrock eons ago, carving out the broad valley. Glacial deposits of gravel, sand, silt, and clay overlie the bedrock and compose Dayton’s surficial geology.

The region’s major rivers and streams continue to shape the landscape today. Floodplain soils along the Great Miami, Stillwater, Mad, and Wolf Creek consist of gravelly loam, sandy loam, and silty clay deposits. Upland soils tend to be moderately deep silty loams with good drainage.


Downtown Dayton is the center of business and entertainment in the city. Major attractions include the Schuster Center performing arts venue, the Dayton Dragons’ baseball stadium, an array of festivals and live music events, and an eclectic dining scene. Downtown neighborhoods include Webster Station, Oregon District, and the Water Street District.

To the north and west of downtown is Old North Dayton, a historic neighborhood with Victorian-era homes and Wolf Creek running through it. Other major residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown include Grafton Hill, Huffman, Southern Dayton View, and Twin Towers.

Oakwood and Kettering are more affluent suburban neighborhoods to the south of the city center. Oakwood boasts extensive green space and kettering is home to the renowned Fraze Pavilion concert venue. The Edgemont and Shroyer Park neighborhoods comprise the southwest part of Dayton.

East Dayton neighborhoods include McCook Field which borders Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum. Walnut Hills, Cornell Heights, and Patterson Park make up additional east side neighborhoods.

In northwest Dayton, established neighborhoods such as Five Oaks, Miami Chapel, and Helena Park offer a quieter suburban lifestyle. Tech Town, a more recently developed hub of tech companies and startups, is also located in northwest Dayton.


Dayton has a humid continental climate, characterized by warm, muggy summers and cold winters. The proximity to Lake Erie and the Great Miami River valley help moderate temperatures throughout the year.

Summers in Dayton are hot and humid, with average highs around 84°F in July, the warmest month. Summer brings chances for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

However, the region’s rivers and creeks help temper summer heat and humidity. Spring and fall bring pleasant weather with temps ranging from the 40s to 60s F.

Winters are marked by overcast skies and chilly temps. The average January low is around 22°F, although extreme cold snaps can bring subzero wind chills. Winter precipitation comes mainly as light snow with occasional major snowstorms. Total annual snowfall averages around 20 inches.

Overall, Dayton gets around 37.7 inches of rain per year. Precipitation is spread fairly evenly throughout the year. The growing season is about 180 days from mid-April to mid-October. Dayton’s outlook calls for hotter summers and heavier rains in coming decades due to climate change.


As of the 2020 census, Dayton had a population of around 140,000 residents. This represents a decline from over 166,000 residents in 2010 and a peak of over 262,000 in 1960. Dayton’s population has dropped over the decades due to automation and offshoring of manufacturing as well as urban sprawl.

Dayton has a predominantly White population at around 51%, higher than the national average. Around 42% of residents are African American, 3% Hispanic/Latino, 2% Asian American, and 2% mixed race or other. Dayton has a large concentration of immigrants from Egypt, Turkey, and China.

Over a quarter of Dayton’s population is under 18 and around 12% are seniors over 65. The median age is 34.2 years old. Dayton has slightly more women at 52% of the population. Around 32% of households have children.

The median household income in Dayton is $30,894, considerably lower than state and national medians. Over 30% of the population lives below the poverty line. Dayton suffers from uneven development and disinvestment in urban neighborhoods.


Historically Dayton was a manufacturing and innovation hub, home to major companies like NCR, GM and Mead Paper. While manufacturing has declined, health care has taken its place as Dayton’s largest employer.

Premier Health and Kettering Health Network operate major hospitals and clinics. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and University of Dayton are also major employers.

Advanced manufacturing and aerospace still play a key role, seen in companies like GE Aviation, Emerson, Fuyao Glass, and WP Airfoils.

Dayton is also a center for research and development in fields like sensors, automation, additive manufacturing, and energy technologies. The region produces $4 billion in annual R&D.

Defense and aerospace contractors clustered around Wright-Patterson AFB power the economy, including SAIC, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Booz Allen and Lockheed Martin. The base employs 27,000 people and drives $8.5 billion in economic activity.

Dayton is working to revitalize its economy through high-tech startups and draws on a skilled workforce trained at local universities. Initiatives like the Entrepreneurs Center and Downtown Dayton Partnership support small business growth.

Tourism is also an emerging sector with draws like the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.


Dayton has a rich cultural heritage stemming from its history of innovation, social activism, and community engagement. While Dayton may be best known as the hometown of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, the city also played a seminal role in industries like manufacturing, automobiles, and cash registers.

This spirit of invention and progress informs Dayton’s cultural landscape. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force celebrates Dayton’s aviation legacy with exhibits of historic aircrafts and technologies. Carillon Historical Park spotlights the region’s history of industry and innovation.

Dayton is also an incubator for the arts and music. The Schuster Center serves as the hub for performing arts while the Dayton Art Institute houses an impressive collection of artworks.

Musicians Jackie Oates, Kim Taylor, and Hawthorne Heights got their start in Dayton’s indie music scene. The city is the birthplace of funk legends Ohio Players, the Breeders, and Guided by Voices.

Community service is integral to Dayton. Charles Kettering, founder of Delco, exemplified the Dayton tradition of philanthropic business leadership.

Social justice movements have also flourished in Dayton, from the Progressive Movement to civil rights organizing. Nonprofits and community groups continue this legacy today.

Colleges and universities

Dayton is home to several higher education institutions:

  • University of Dayton – A private Catholic university and the largest university in the area with over 8,500 undergraduates. Offers programs in arts, sciences, business, engineering, and education. Known for aviation and aerospace research.
  • Wright State University – A public university near Fairborn with a focus on medicine, business, engineering, and STEM degrees. Home to the Boonshoft School of Medicine. Around 4,500 undergraduates.
  • Sinclair Community College – Provides two-year associate’s degrees. Has a broad range of technical and career-oriented programs. One of the largest community colleges in the Midwest with over 22,000 students.
  • Kettering College – A private college specializing in health science degrees such as nursing. Affiliated with Kettering Health Network.
  • Cedarville University – A private Baptist university located in Cedarville, Ohio, around 20 miles from Dayton. Enrolls over 4,000 undergraduate students.
  • Miami Valley Career Technology Center – A public career and technical school providing certifications in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and other trades.

These colleges attract thousands of students to the Dayton region and supply local employers with skilled workers. The University of Dayton is especially influential in shaping the city’s culture and economy through R&D programs.


Dayton has a variety of media outlets providing local news, information, and entertainment:

  • WHIO – The dominant TV broadcaster in Dayton, providing local news and CBS programming. Part of Cox Media Group.
  • WDTN – The Dayton area’s NBC affiliate, owned and operated by Nexstar Media Group.
  • WKEF/WRGT – ABC and Fox affiliates for the Dayton area, under the same ownership. Also air The CW programming. Owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.
  • ThinkTV – Public broadcasting TV station based in Dayton with local productions and PBS programs.
  • Dayton Daily News – Major regional newspaper providing print and online news and information. Published by Cox Media Group.
  • Dayton City Paper – Free weekly print and online publication focused on arts, entertainment, and culture.
  • WYSO – Local public radio station based in Yellow Springs with NPR news and music programming.
  • WDPR – Classical music public radio station broadcast from Dayton Public Schools.
  • WOXY.com – Online indie rock radio station founded in Dayton in 2000.

Dayton Magazine, the Univision Spanish-language publication, and over a dozen suburban weekly newspapers also serve the area.


Dayton is connected to other cities and regions by an extensive highway and road network:

  • Interstates 75, 70, and 675 provide primary north-south and east-west access. I-75 links Dayton to Cincinnati and Detroit. I-70 connects Dayton across Ohio and east to Columbus and Baltimore.
  • U.S. 35 is a major east-west artery running through Dayton and surrounding cities. Also known as Airway Road or Woodman Drive within Dayton.
  • State Route 4 acts as an inner beltway circling Dayton. It crosses I-75, I-70, and U.S. 35.
  • U.S. Route 40 and Ohio State Route 444 also run east-west through the city.
  • Major north-south routes are Ohio State Routes 48 and 49.
  • Public transit is provided by the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) via an extensive bus network and connections to intercity rail.
  • Dayton operates Dayton International Airport with direct flights to over a dozen major domestic hubs.
  • The city has excellent access to the interstate highway system and ground shipping routes which supported its development as a manufacturing center.

Major Landmarks

Some of the major landmarks in Dayton include:

  • National Museum of the U.S. Air Force – Located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, this free museum houses hundreds of historic aircraft along with exhibits on air force history. One of Ohio’s top attractions.
  • Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park – Celebrates Dayton’s role in aviation history with sites like the Wright Cycle Company complex and Huffman Prairie Flying Field.
  • Dayton Art Institute – Houses a collection of American and European art from Renaissance to contemporary pieces. Also features Asian, African, and Native American art.
  • Carillon Historical Park – Outdoor museum depicting life and technology from 1700s-1900s through historic buildings and demonstrations.
  • RiverScape MetroPark – An urban park along the Great Miami River downtown with walking trails, fountains/light displays, and event facilities.
  • Schuster Performing Arts Center – State-of-the-art downtown theater venue hosting Broadway shows, concerts, operas, and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra performances.
  • Fifth Third Field – Home of the popular minor league baseball team Dayton Dragons, consistently ranking #1 in Class A attendance.
  • Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum – Historic scenic cemetery with over 200 acres of gardens, ponds, and walking paths.
  • Dayton Arcade – Iconic historic rotunda-style arcade building, recently renovated into a commercial/residential hub.

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  • Start out going east on E 3rd St toward S Patterson Blvd in downtown Dayton. Turn right to merge onto S Patterson Blvd. Take I-75 N ramp on the left to Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive for about 5 miles. Take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave toward N Fairfield Rd. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. The destination will be on the right.
  • Begin at Riverscape MetroPark in downtown Dayton and head north on S Patterson Blvd. Take the I-75 N ramp on the left toward Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive approximately 5 miles. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. Continue on Siebenthaler Ave for half a mile and the destination will be on your right.
  • Start at the Dayton Art Institute in downtown Dayton. Head east on E Monument Ave toward S Patterson Blvd. Turn right onto S Patterson Blvd. Take the I-75 N ramp on the left to Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive for 5 miles. Take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave toward N Fairfield Rd. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. 117 E Siebenthaler Ave will be on the right just past Danner Ave.