Building Ohio

Ware, Jane. Building Ohio: A Traveler’s Guide to Ohio’s Rural Architecture. Wilmington, Ohio; Orange Frazer Press, 2002.

I have a rule of thumb about towns in Ohio. If the municipality had 10,000 residents in 1950, there will be a few amazing streets of Victorian houses near the town square. I call it the “10,000 Residents in 1950” rule. In reading over Jane Ware’s Building Ohio, I have another rule. If a city is the county seat, the courthouse will be distinctly located downtown, facing the square and making the place look nice(r). It is a little thing, but in seeing many government buildings (centers of our civilization) look like large sheds, the prominent old courthouse is something that makes Ohio and much of the Midwest desirable.

The rural volume is Building Ohio, goes along with an earlier architectural guidebook for the 8 largest cities in the state (the Urban guide). While there are some rural structures discussed, this guide focuses mostly on the small town and some slightly larger cities (Springfield, Hamilton, Mansfield, and Lima). The rural guide is unique in that I have not found anything to compare it to. Together with the urban guide, they are an unbeatable team.

Ware is good writer who has made a guide as opposed to a reference book. Continue reading

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Steeltown U.S.A.

Linkon, Sherry Lee and John Russo. Steeltown U.S.A.: Work & Memory in Youngstown. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2002.

When I think of 2010, I think of Youngstown. Started in 2002, an idea (Youngstown 2010) developed as a plan for Youngstown as a city in its current size, as opposed to the 160,000+ Steeltown from past industrial days. The plan and current Mayor Jay Williams have received much national coverage of this issue and have been closely associated with the Shrinking City movement. One of the ideas that is usually bulleted with the plan is to turn nearly vacant neighborhood into green space: both improving quality of life and eliminating what is now a poorly distributed utility system. For good or bad, the “2010” from the name is upon us.

I am not going to make any judgments on the plan, other than I have enjoyed the relocation section of the city’s website, though I wish more neighborhood pages would be completed. I am sure someone, somewhere will review the plan’s progress at some point during this years. Today, I want to look at Steeltown U.S.A., which was written and published before this plan got under way. Linkon and Russo are looking at work or the idea of work in Youngstown, and how work defined how the city sees/saw itself. Continue reading