Youngstown celebrates its 226th anniversary | News, Sports, Jobs


YOUNGSTOWN — In size, composition, and general appearance, this was a typical marble cake.

Although it lacked space to hold 226 candles, the writing in the frosting told a story that added uniqueness as an ingredient for the dessert.

“This is the most important part of (Youngstown’s) history, people,” said H. William Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

Lawson gave a brief history of the town at Mahoning Commons, 530 Mahoning Ave., shortly before the cutting of the cake, which read in frosting, “Happy Birthday, Youngstown, 226.”

The ceremony was also part of the events and festivities that made up the Saturday Celebrating Community Health Activity Day and the Happy Birthday Youngstown Gathering at Mahoning Commons.

One of the main sponsors was the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

According to historical records, John Young, the city’s founder, traveled west through the mountains of Pennsylvania before reaching the Beaver River, where he took a canoe up the Mahoning River, then landed near downtown Spring Commons Bridge, Lawson explained.

Young expressed interest in purchasing over 15,500 acres before establishing a purchase agreement in February 1797 with the Connecticut Land Co. He later returned to resell part of the property for a profit, although it’s unclear how well he fared financially. agreement, Lawson said.

The executive director noted that Young only settled in the area from 1798 to 1804 before moving to Whitesboro, NY, where his wife’s family lived.

Young, who was a surveyor by trade, made only a handful of additional trips to the Mahoning Valley before he died in 1825, Lawson said.

Later, Youngstown became a major center of iron and steel production for nearly 80 years of the 20th century. Decades later, the area is populated by many people determined to continue the work to make it a better city, Lawson continued.

The one-day event included bike rides and walking tours of historic sites in the city, as well as learning about the history of longtime Youngstown businesses such as the Western Reserve Transit Authority, noted Adam Lee, Youngstown CityScape Program Director. A guided tour along the Mahoning River was also included, along with cooking demonstrations and the availability of healthy foods, he added.

One stop was the Calvin Center for the Arts, 755 Mahoning Ave., which famed architect and mason P. Ross Berry built in the 1800s and was used as a municipal school until the 1940s.

“I love showing people what’s cool at the Mahoning Commons,” said Erin Timms, Calvin Center owner and vegan chef.

After offering attendees his vegetarian oyster and oyster mushroom treats, Timms took his guests on a detailed tour of the three-story building.

In addition to the center, Berry, who was one of the area’s most successful businessmen, built about 60 buildings in the area, said Timms, who was also an urban archaeologist.

The top floor was used as an auditorium mainly for children, but plans are underway to convert it into hotel space. Another priority is to turn part of the building into aerial guest rooms, she explained.

Timms also took a few dozen people to the first floor, which includes several yoga studios and a mixed-use space. Its tenants have included the Rust Belt Theater Co., which vacated the building in February largely due to pandemic-related struggles, she said.

The business is now at Club Switch in Youngstown, part of which has been converted into theater space.

The center also has several spacious rooms often used for a variety of events, all of which have large windows that let in an abundance of light, Timms continued.

Councilwoman Samantha Turner, D-3rd Ward, was also happy to be part of the festivities, who said it was “comforting” for the community to reconnect after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.

“It’s all made possible by a strong sense of community,” she said before cutting the first slice of the birthday cake.

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