Ohio History Journal

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The New City and the New Journalism:

The Case of Dayton, Ohio



Prior to the introduction of mass transportation systems, the nineteenth

century city was physically compact, with diverse land usages in close

proximity to each other. With the availability of railroads, street cars, and

inter-urban electric rail lines the urban population could live further away

from the workplace and entrepreneurs would recognize the advantages of

building in less congested areas. These increased options for residential and

factory locations fostered socioeconomic segmentation, as the successful

middle class chose housing locations away from the confusion of the old

city. Industrialists were freed to build new, larger plants on sites with plenty

of space to accommodate mechanization as well as possible expansion. The

different types of land use,the new organization of work, and the expansion

of the city all contributed to a breakdown of traditional communications

links and promoted impersonal types of social relationships. These changes

reshaped the city and produced the metropolis as a new form of human


This process of metropolitanization was often accompanied by disorder

and tension. Population growth and congestion, environmental destruc-

tion and pollution, ethnic and racial conflict, labor-capital confrontations,

inadequate public services, and community dissonance over governmental

priorities were all part of the new metropolitan fabric. As Samuel P. Hays




James E. Cebula is Associate Professor of History at Raymond Walters College of the

University of Cincinnati.


1. On the growth of the metropolis, see Leo F. Schnore, "Metropolitan Growth and

Decentralization," The American Journal of Sociology, LVI (September, 1957), 171-180;

Hans Blumenfeld, Cities (New York, 1965), 40-57; and Blake McKelvey, The Emergence of

Metropolitan America, 1915-1966 (New Brunswick, 1968). For a historiographical statement

which stresses the need to build bridges between transportation development, urban growth,

and the progressive era reform movements, see Richard C. Wade, "An Agenda for Urban

History," in George Athan Billias and Gerald N. Grob, eds., American History: Retrospect

and Prospect (New York, 1971), 367-399; but see also Robert H. Weibe, "The Progressive

Years, 1900-1917" in William H. Cartwright and Richard L. Watson, Jr., eds., Reinterpreta-

tion of American History and Culture (Washington, D.C. 1973),415-442 which ties the

reforms and changes to the process of modernization. On the role of newspapers of the era, see

Park Dixon Goist, From Main Street to State Street: Town City, and Community in America

(Port Washington, N.Y., 1977), 94-120.