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There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
A settling party from Cincinnati came here in 1796, seven years before Ohio achieved statehood. The names of the original owners of the land resonate on the town's streets today: Arthur St. Clair, James Wilkinson, Israel Ludlow and the name-giver, Johnathan Dayton. Dayton, a New Jersey politician and major land speculator in Ohio, never set foot in the area but Ludlow laid out the new town. Ludlow is credited with surveying more land in Ohio than any early settler and he got his share of towns and streams named for him as well.
Dayton's location at the forks of the Great Miami River where the Mad River joined and streams drained from the surrounding hills foretold a future as a shipping center for the rich surrounding farmland. Town pioneers pursued that course early on with the construction of the Dayton-Cincinnati Canal in 1827. The complexion of the community began to change with John Patterson, who once collected tolls on the Miami and Erie Canal. In 1884 Patterson and his brother bought James Riddy's small business where he manufactured "incorruptible" cash registers. To mass produce the machines for his newly named National Cash Register (NCR) company Patterson needed to recruit highly skilled workers capable of precision workmanship. The term wasn't in use 125 years ago but Dayton became one of the first high-tech centers in the United States.
There was no higher technology in the waning days of the 19th century than man's quest for flight and it took two Dayton bicycle machinists, whose only training in aerodynamics came from reading everything they could find on the subject in the Dayton public library, to conquer the skies. Orville and Wilbur Wright established an experimental airplane factory in town, joining a handful of automobile pioneers already operating in Dayton. One mechanic, Charles F. Kettering came to link Dayton's high-tech industries when he built a quick-starting electric motor for the cash register and then quit his job at NCR to adapt the invention as an automobile self-starter. He went on to found the influential Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company known world-wide as Delco.
While Dayton engineers were busy toppling the barriers of physics they received a reminder of the power of the natural world in 1913 when a four-day downpour sent the muddy waters of the Great Miami roiling over protective levees with the most disastrous flood in the town's history. The levees were raised and the Miami subdued but the impact on Dayton remains nearly a century later. Many buildings were lost forever, some companies remained and rebuilt in the downtown core and others abandoned the floodplain for other areas, stimulating growth in suburban communities. Our walking tour of "Gem City" will start by the banks of the Great Miami where the river today looks tame and docile...