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Dayton From the Air


Dayton From the Air


Written by Walter Wyatt Snypp

Assistant Manager of

Dayton Chamber of Commerce


Published by The Chamber of Commerce

[Copyright 1923]


To the Wright Brothers, their co-workers and successors,

 the inventors and perfectors of the airplane, this brochure is dedicated.


Like an immense tired bird, the T-2 came gliding home scarcely visible in the growing dusk over the sky line of commercial edifices. The barely audible purr of her motor was like the crooning of some gigantic fowl returning from victorious conflict. In truth, she was besmeared with glory from tip to tip and from nose to tail. She had blazed a non-stop trail in record time from New York to San Diego under the guidance of her dauntless pilots. The valiant spirit and relentless energy displayed by Lieutenants Macready and Kelly in establishing this mile-stone in the march of the World's progress is equaled only by the Wright Brothers' accomplishments and is truly symbolic of the progress of Dayton.

A few miles east of the city where the Wright Brothers less than two decades ago proved to the consternation of the entire world that they had mastered the art of navigating the atmosphere, the visitor to Dayton finds a landing field named after the deceased brother, Wilbur Wright, which is considered by aviation authorities to be the most ideally perfect landing field in the United States. It was from this field that many of the World's greatest speed and endurance records were recently made. Here aircraft of every description is found "taking the air" and landing with the ease and grace of the gull. But a moment's observation of the pilots' complete control of these man-made birds and the evident stability of the ships in flight, convinces the most skeptical observer of the rapidly developing superiority of air travel over the dangers encountered on the ground.

With full conviction of the safety of traversing the highways of the air in the modern airplane, equipped with spacious cabin comparable only to the most luxuriously furnished Pullman, Dayton's guest accepts an invitation to make an aerial inspection of the city and environs. As he removes his wraps and settles down in a comfortable, leather upholstered chair, the pilot has the ship well under way several hundred feet in the air. While circling the field, a law of the air, the visitor chances a glance downward and is greeted with a bird's-eye view of the Wilbur Wright Field. With eyes fixed on the hangars and warehouses of the government supply depot maintained there, he watches them shrink into mere specks as the ship gains altitude and the pilot directs the course westwardly toward the city of Dayton. The outline of the field disappears and the scene grows into a vast expanse of agricultural lands of great fertility. It was this rich soil that attracted the early settlers to the territory in 1796.  They built homes at the confluence of the four streams - now the city of Dayton.

            Looming up in the center of this beautiful landscape, like an Egyptian pyramid, stands one of the colossal flood dams; a part of the largest flood prevention project in the world and one of the greatest engineering feats ever attempted in the United States.

This dam together with four other dams of similar size, located on the principal streams in the vicinity of Dayton, form dry reservoirs capable of holding back a volume of water greater than that which caused the disastrous flood in 1913. With the construction of these huge basins the river channels were cleaned and straightened and levees and retaining walls were built. The entire works which afford full protection from the recurrence of another flood catastrophe was started immediately after the 1913 disaster and has just been completed at a cost of thirty-five million dollars.

In the direction of the ship's course, to the west, the city of Dayton comes into view.  Its sky-scrapers stand out in friendly greeting, clean-cut and clear. Winding through its center from north-east to southwest flows the Miami river with bridges like links holding the city together. In the sunlight the stone and concrete hanks show white with symmetrical curves as if cut by a sculptor's chisel.

Shutting off the engine, the pilot steers the ship toward the north end of the city and in gliding descent bears down upon another United States Government aviation field, known as McCook. The government aviation experimental laboratories are located at this field; the largest laboratories of their kind in the world. It is this aeronautical establishment that gives Dayton the distinction of being the center of aviation. It was at this point that Lieutenant Macready "took off" September 28, 1921, in a LaPerre biplane with supercharged Liberty motor and pierced the heavens over the city of Dayton to a height of nearly seven miles (34,509.5 ft.) one of the World's long standing altitude records. Lieutenants Macready and Kelly are the joint holders of many Worlds’ records made with the famous T-2, in addition to being the first flyers to span the continent in a non-stop flight inaugurating a new epoch in American aeronautics. Other tests being conducted at this notable station, include experiments with the helicopter and glider, representing the most advanced steps in the development of aircraft.

The tremendous growth of aviation and the need for further development has made necessary the expansion of the experimental laboratories and landing field beyond the present topographical limits. Public spirited citizens of Dayton interested in the progress of aviation have purchased and presented to the United States Government an adequate site ideally located just east of the city limits between the present location and Wilbur Wright field. The new field contains nearly five thousand acres and is valued at more than one million dollars. It is proposed that the prospective U. S. Air Academy, an institution similar to West Point and Annapolis, be placed on this ground.

Between McCook field and the Miami River is situated one of the city's foremost parks and bathing beach, Island Park. The dancing pavilion, tennis courts, bath house, canoe lockers, etc. are controlled by the city. The most popular of the tourists' camps is located in this park. Library, kitchens equipped with gas hot-plates and water, telephone and delivery service, electric light, police protection and bathing facilities are supplied the city's automobile guests. It ranks as one of the most complete and delightful parks in the country.

A total of over a thousand acres of park and playground area is supervised by the city government, including the largest country club municipally owned in the world. This recreational retreat, the great playground of the citizens of Dayton, contains two hundred and ninety-four acres and is called Community Club. It maintains two eighteen, and one nine-hole golf courses, six tennis courts dining Playground, and other facilities. The large wooded area of these grounds is left in a primitive state with many miles of bridle paths and automobile roads Numerous log cabins distributed throughout this virgin wood, with fire places and cupboards filled with cooking utensils, are available to citizens who seek communion with nature.

            In a slow easy tilt of the ship to the side, the  aerial tenderfoot feels a  rumble in the vicinity of the stomach as the pilot banks in a turn toward the heart of the city and opens up the motor. But as he puts her nose into the air and begins to climb, following the course of the resplendent Miami river, the visitor becomes a hearty advocate of the modern mode of travel, without dust and without jar, as the city opens up in detail before him.

A city of nearly two hundred thousand inhabitants that is governed like a successful business corporation with stockholders, directors and an efficient general manager. The people are the stockholders, the five commissioners elected by the people are the directors, and the city manager, employed by the commissioners to run the city, is the general manager. The government is known as the commission-manager plan or better known as the Dayton Plan. It was adopted immediately after the flood when economical and efficient city management was imperative to the recuperation of the community from the havoc wrought by the water and when all citizens were compelled to work together regardless of sex, creed, or political tendencies. The economy, the improvements and the service gained through this business form of government have proved its worth by nine years operation, Over two hundred cities and villages throughout the United States have since copied, in whole or in part, the Dayton Plan.

Sailing south now toward the heart of the city, the aerial observer sees Dayton's forests of factory chimneys extending well out from the mercantile or down-town section, east to the corporation line and on the west as far as the vision carries, Dayton has long been recognized as one of the industrial centers of the country and is known as "The City of a Thousand Factories," turning out as great a diversity of products as any city of its size. Nearly a hundred of these products are world leaders, such as cash registers; farm lighting plants; automobile starting, lighting and ignition systems; computing scales; fare recording and indicating registers; autographic registers; hoisting jacks; shoe lasts; golf clubs; sealing wax, etc. The value of factory output in 1923 is estimated at $237,343,000.

Dayton is often spoken of as the "Precision Center of America," a term accurately applied in view of the close measurement and minute calculation required in the manufacture of many of the named products as well as hundreds of other articles of a mechanical nature produced in her factories.

Industrial Dayton is noted not only for its world leading products, its thousand factories and precision work, but many of its plants are model industrial institutions, first in modern factory and distribution practice and in welfare work among their employees. The National Cash Register Company, one of Dayton's leading institutions converted an entire section of the city into one of the model residential districts of the country and has been a generous contributor to the beautifications and progress of the entire community. The trimming of lawns, the planting of shrubbery and flowers has been promoted to the complete elimination of any so-called slum district.

As the visitor turns his gaze from the industrial areas to the north side of the river, he sees a representative residential section where homes were built to live in and are maintained as realms of happiness.  Home ownership ranks high because everyone can buy a home through one of the eighteen building and loan associations the city supports. Approximately ninety percent of the new homes built are financed through these associations which have aggregate resources exceeding seventy million dollars. Their influence in the promotion of thrift and economy is evidenced by nearly one hundred and seventy-five thousand patrons in Dayton and vicinity. Homes are so easy to buy that the city has never been confronted with housing problems. It is popular and customary for a family to buy its home on terms as moderate as the usual rental fee.

The contentment gained through the ownership of homes and desirable occupation has naturally been accompanied by increased educational facilities of high standard. The public school system comprises thirty-two schools with a total enrollment of 30,401 students, including over 4,400 enrolled in the adult night classes. There are four high schools, a normal training school, and special schools, largely in the nature of pre-vocational, and classes for the deaf, defectives, cripples, sub-normal children and those with defective vision. There is one high school for freshmen, one for junior-senior and one for cooperative students.  In addition there are nineteen parochial schools with 6,011 students, two theological seminaries, one university and the Moraine Park private school. Emblematic of the city's institutions of learning, Dayton's oldest high school stands out in bold dignity below the ship as she banks in a left turn upon leaving the course of the river.

As impressive as was the river upon approaching the city, are the majestically wide streets, laid out in perfect blocks dividing the city's skyscrapers, from the view of the spectator as the ship flies south over the financial and commercial center. Notable edifices present  themselves. A magnificent Engineers' Club stands as a monument to Dayton engineering genius.  Memorial Hall, with its red tile arched roof, a memorial to the Civil and Spanish-American War veterans, is the city's convention headquarters. The Public Library, the first established in the state, contains 135,000 volumes. The old Court House, a model of Greek architecture, stands like a sentinel commanding attention.  The Federal Building is a specimen of modern art. Occupying equally dominating positions are the spires of many of Dayton's one hundred and thirty-eight churches. Mercantile and commercial establishments and banking institutions complete the city's sky line of towering structures.

The five national and three state banks have total deposits aggregating more than $46,522,941   Included in the state banks are two trust companies with six branches.   Bank debits in 1923 were $833,005,713.96 compared with $674,371,259.58 in 1922: an increase of $158,634,454.38.

Emphasized by an artistic Italian model depot the main artery of trade becomes visible crossing the city parallel with the river, connecting the two industrial divisions, as the ship descends slightly upon leaving the central part of the city  The roads serving the city are the Baltimore & Ohio; Big Four; Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern; Dayton & Union; Erie and Pennsylvania. Interurban bus and motor freight truck lines extending in every direction afford splendid facilities for reaching the several hundred thousand persons residing within the trade radius.

Soaring skyward again to the dizzy height of the clouds, the pilot shuts off the engine for a noiseless glide to a distance of four miles south of the city. Having become acclimated to the conquest of the air, the visitor adjusts his position in the cushioned chair and lights a cigar as the ship passes over the very home of the pioneers of the air nestled down in a clump of trees in the Village of Oakwood, a suburb of Dayton. The suburban estate of the late John H. Patterson and the homes of many other celebrities lie in this delightful spot surrounded by all the attractions of nature. As Mother Earth comes up to meet the descending ship, the landing is made with all the ease of stopping a motor car. In ten minutes the visitor motors back to the city—- Dayton—the Nation's Air Center.


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