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Youngstown, Ohio

From Ohio History Central
Youngstown map.jpg

Youngstown is the county seat of Mahoning County, Ohio.

Youngstown was founded by John Young in 1797 and is within the original Western Reserve of Connecticut.Young had purchased an entire township from the Connecticut Land Company. He paid $16,085 for 15,560 acres of land. Within a short period of time, ten families settled in the village along the Mahoning River. Youngstown continued to grow and was officially incorporated in 1802.

In that same year Daniel and James Heaton built the Hopewell Furnace. Iron ore and coal deposits had been discovered near Youngstown, and an early iron industry flourished. With the completion of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal in the 1830s and the construction of railroads beginning in the 1850's, Youngstown continued to grow. By 1860, the population had reached 5,300, and by 1870, 8,075 people lived in the community. By the second half of the nineteenth century, Youngstown had become an important intersection of a number of major railway lines, including the Baltimore & Ohio, the Erie Lackawana, the New York Central, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. As a result of the city's growth, the Mahoning County seat was moved from Canfield to Youngstown in 1876. The population reached 33,220 in 1890.

In the late 1800s, the first steel mills were constructed in Youngstown, signaling the new influence of that industry on the city's development. The new industry attracted many immigrants to the community, including Poles, Italians, and Hungarians. In the early twentieth century, the steel workers began to demand better wages and working conditions. There were a number of strikes in this era.

During World War I, the steel mills produced materiel for the war effort. As a result of this increased production, there were a number of new jobs. Youngstown's population swelled so rapidly that there was not enough housing for everyone. When the war ended, a number of workers were laid off. Once again, workers went on strike. They demanded that the companies institute an eight-hour day and a six-day week. In addition, workers wanted extra pay for working overtime. When mill owners did not respond, there were violent confrontations.

By the 1920s, Youngstown was second only to Pittsburgh in terms of total steel production in the United States. At the same time, the industry faced some significant challenges. After the closing of the canal, the city no longer had access to water transportation. In addition, there was a shortage of water for use in the mills. In spite of these problems, the city continued to grow. The population in 1920 was 132,358 people, and Youngstown was ranked as the fiftieth largest city in the nation. The population reached its peak in 1930 at just over 170,000 residents.

The Great Depression hit Youngstown hard. Because the city's economy relied so much on the steel industry, its unemployment rate was approximately three times the national average during the 1930s. Unions were gaining popularity among workers during this era, but several steel companies in Youngstown had resisted unionization. They were collectively known as the Little Steel Companies. Workers at these mills went on strike on March 26, 1937. Although the "Little Steel" strike, as it became known, was not very successful in the short-term, it led to the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly known as the CIO. The CIO was able to force the Little Steel Companies to accept unionization in 1941.

During World War II, Youngstown's industries once again contributed to the American war effort. Prosperity returned to the city. With the further growth of the automobile industry in the years following the war and its demand for steel, Youngstown's economy continued to grow. This economic growth slowed in the late twentieth century, as the steel industry across the United States began to decline. Cities such as Pittsburgh and Youngstown became part of the "Rust Belt" during this era. Youngstown's population also decreased. According to the 2000 census, the city had 82,026 residents.

In recent years, the city of Youngstown has seen some economic revitalization as new industries and enterprises have been attracted to the area.

See Also