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Hamilton, Ohio
City of Hamilton
High-Main Street bridge in downtown Hamilton
High-Main Street bridge in downtown Hamilton
Motto(s): 
"An Award Winning Community"
Hamilton, Ohio is located in Ohio
Hamilton, Ohio
Hamilton, Ohio
Location in Ohio
Hamilton, Ohio is located in the United States
Hamilton, Ohio
Hamilton, Ohio
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Ohio
County Butler
Area
 • Total 21.89 sq mi (56.70 km2)
 • Land 21.45 sq mi (55.56 km2)
 • Water 0.44 sq mi (1.15 km2)
Elevation
597 ft (182 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 63,399
 • Density 2,894.27/sq mi (1,117.48/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
45011-15, 45018
Area code(s) 513
FIPS code 39-33012
GNIS feature ID 1064784
Website www.hamilton-oh.gov

Hamilton is a city in and the county seat of Butler County, Ohio. Located 20 miles (32 km) north of Cincinnati, Hamilton is the second largest city in the Greater Cincinnati area and the 10th largest city in Ohio. The population was 63,399 at the 2020 census. Hamilton is governed under a council-manager form of government; the current mayor is Patrick Moeller and the city manager is Joshua Smith. Most of the city is served by the Hamilton City School District.

Hamilton has three designated National Historic Districts: Dayton Lane, German Village, and Rossville. The industrial city is seeking to revitalize through the arts; it declared itself the "City of Sculpture" in 2000. Its initiative has attracted many sculpture installations to the city, which founded the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park

History

Hamilton, Ohio, was founded in 1791 as Fort Hamilton (named to honor Alexander Hamilton). The northwest frontier military fort was built to serve as a supply station for the troops of generals Arthur St. Clair and later Anthony Wayne. Their armies entered the Miami Valley to drive out the Shawnee and Miami during the Northwest Indian War of the 1790s. The Indians hoped to maintain their territory here, but, following the American Revolutionary War, the United States wanted to open it for European-American settlement and succeeded in pushing out the indigenous peoples.

The fort was located on the Great Miami River, where the east and west banks rose gradually. The river is shallow during normal flow and easily forded by men, animals and wagons on its gravelly bottom. By 1800, the fort had been abandoned, and Hamilton was becoming an agricultural and regional trading town. The town was platted, government was seated, and the town named by 1803.

Hamilton was first incorporated by act of the Ohio General Assembly in 1810, but lost its status in 1815 for failure to hold elections. It was reincorporated in 1827 with Rossville, the community across the Great Miami River in St. Clair Township. The two places severed their connection in 1831 only to be rejoined in 1854. Designated the county seat, this became a city in 1857. On 14 March 1867, Hamilton withdrew from the townships of Fairfield and St. Clair to form a "paper township", but the city government is dominant.

On the afternoon of 17 September 1859, Abraham Lincoln arrived at the Hamilton Station (the station is on the city's Historic Preservation list). He gave a campaign speech in support of his fellow Republican, William Dennison, who was running for Ohio governor. Lincoln's speech concentrated on popular sovereignty. He began: "This beautiful and far-famed Miami Valley is the garden spot of the world." It was during this campaign that the relatively unknown Lincoln was first mentioned as a possible presidential contender.

Niles Tool Works, Hamilton, Ohio, 1896
Niles Tool Works in Hamilton, 1896.

By the mid-19th century, Hamilton had developed as a significant manufacturing city. Its early products were often machines and equipment used to process the region’s farm produce, such as steam engines, hay cutters, reapers and threshers. Other production included machine tools, house hardware, saws for mills, paper, paper making machinery, carriages, guns, whiskey, beer, woolen goods, and myriad and diverse output made from metal, grain, and cloth.

By the early 20th century, the town was a heavy-manufacturing center for vaults and safes, machine tools, cans for vegetables, paper, paper making machinery, locomotives, frogs and switches for railroads, steam engines, diesel engines, foundry products, printing presses, and automobile parts. During the two world wars, its factories manufactured war materiel, Liberty ship engines, and gun lathes. Manufacturers used coke to feed furnaces. Its by-product, gas, fueled street lights. The Great Miami River valley, in which Hamilton was located, had become an industrial giant.

The county courthouse, constructed between 1885 and 1889, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its monumental architecture. The city has three historic districts, including Lindenwald and others that feature turn-of-the-century homes. Like Cincinnati, Hamilton attracted many German and Italian immigrants from the mid-19th century on, whose influence was expressed in culture, food and architecture. Hamilton also had a Jewish community; with increased immigration by Eastern European Jews, they founded Beth Israel Synagogue in 1901 as an Orthodox alternative to Hamilton's Reform synagogue. It had been founded by German Jews in the 1880s, when nearby Cincinnati was a center of Reform Judaism in the United States. At the time around 250 Jewish families lived in Hamilton.

Factories in Hamilton converted their operations to support the war effort, manufacturing military supplies, such as tank turrets, Liberty ship and submarine engines, and machined and stamped metal parts.

With the 1950s came the construction of the new interstate highway I-75, part of a nationwide system and one which bypassed the city. A decision made to reduce traffic through the city resulted in cutting it off from the newest transportation network, and businesses were drawn to areas outside with access to the highway. Until 1999, when the Butler County Veterans Highway was built, Hamilton was the second-largest city in the United States without direct interstate access.

In the late 20th century, industrial restructuring in heavy manufacturing resulted in widespread loss of jobs in older industrial cities, as operations were merged, relocated, and finally moved offshore. Like other Rust Belt cities in the northern tier, Hamilton has struggled to develop a new economy after such wide-scale changes but it has retained more of its population than many such cities. In addition, since the late 20th century it has attracted new immigrants, primarily Hispanics from Mexico and Latin America.

On 28 May 1986, as part of a plan to increase publicity about Hamilton, the city council voted 5-1 in favor of adding an exclamation point to the city's name. Thus, Hamilton officially became Hamilton! While used extensively in the city's documents, letterheads, business cards and on local signage, "Hamilton!" was not successful in getting Rand McNally to use the new moniker on state maps and the change was not recognized by the Federal Board on Geographical Names. The city's website does not use the exclamation point.

In 2009, the city won the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Awards for best-tasting municipal water for the United States; and in 2010, a Gold Medal for the best in the world.

Hamilton Hydraulic

The Hamilton Hydraulic, also called the Hamilton & Rossville Hydraulic, was a system devised to supply water power to shops and mills; it spurred one of Hamilton's greatest periods of industrial and population growth (1840-1860). Specially built canals and natural reservoirs brought water from the Great Miami River north of Hamilton into the town as a source of power for future industries.

The hydraulic began about four miles north of Hamilton on the river, where a dam was built to divert water into the system. Nearby, two reservoirs stored water for the hydraulic, whose main canal continued south along North Fifth Street to present Market Street. There it took a sharp west turn to the river at the present intersection of Market Street and North Monument Avenue, between the former Hamilton Municipal Building and the present Courtyard by Marriott. The first water passed through the system in January 1845. As the water flowed through the canal, it turned millstones in the hydraulic. The project had been a risky one because there were no shops along its course to use the power when the company was organized in 1842. The gamble paid off. Several small industries were built on the hydraulic in the 1840s. One was the Beckett Paper Co.

The hydraulic remained a principal source of power for Hamilton industries through the 1870s when stationary steam engines became practical and affordable. Later, most of the hydraulic canal was covered and/or filled. The hydraulic attracted auto manufacturer Henry Ford to Hamilton after World War I, when he sought a site for a tractor factory. Ford built a plant — which soon converted to producing auto parts — at the north end of North Fifth Street so it could take advantage of power provided by a branch of the hydraulic.

A Rossville hydraulic also was built, but never achieved the success of the Hamilton system.

1913 flood

Geographic and geological evidence shows that floods have occurred throughout the valley since prehistoric times. Since European-American settlement, diaries, anecdotes, folk tales, letters, and official records have provided documentation of relatively common severe floods in 1814, 1828, 1832, 1847, 1866, 1883, 1897, 1898, and 1907.

In March 1913 the greatest flood occurred. Heavy rain fell over the entire watershed, and the ground was frozen, as well as saturated from previous lighter rains. This resulted in a high rate of run-off from the rain: an estimated 90% flowed directly into the streams, creeks, and rivers. Between 9 and 11 inches of rain fell over five days, March 25 to March 29, 1913. An amount equivalent to about 30 days' discharge of water over Niagara Falls flowed through the Miami Valley during the ensuing flood. In the Great Miami River Valley, 360 persons died, about 200 of whom were from Hamilton. Some drowned, some were washed away and never found, others died from various diseases and complications. Damage in the valley was calculated at $100 million, the equivalent of $2 billion in 21st-century value. The flood waters were so powerful that within two hours they destroyed all four of Hamilton's bridges: Black Street, High-Main Street, Columbia, and the railroad bridge.

In Hamilton the flood waters rose with unexpected and frightening suddenness, reaching over three to eight feet in depth in downtown, and up to eighteen feet in the North End, along Fifth Street and through South Hamilton Crossing. The waters spread from D Street on the west to what is now Erie Highway on the east. The waters' rise was so swift that many people were trapped in the upper floors of businesses and houses. In some cases, people had to escape to their attics, and then break through the roof as the waters rose even higher. Temperatures hovered near freezing. The water current varied, but in constricted locations it raced at more than twenty miles per hour. The dead people, more than 1,000 drowned horses, other livestock, and pets, and sewage tainted the water. Nearly one-third of the population was left homeless and displaced: 10,000 of the 35,000 residents of Hamilton. Thousands of houses were destroyed by the flood; afterward, many that were too damaged to repair had to be demolished by city workers.

Miami Conservancy District

Following the disastrous 1913 flood in the Great Miami River Valley, residents realized that the only way to prevent future flooding was to deal with protection on a watershed basis. Citizens from all the major cities in the valley, Piqua, Troy, Dayton, Carlisle, Franklin, Miamisburg, Middletown, and Hamilton, gathered together to find a solution. They worked with legislative representatives to draft enabling legislation to create the Miami Conservancy District. It was passed by the state and signed into law by Governor James Cox. Although challenged several times in the courts, the laws withstood those attacks. The law and District have also withstood the tests of time. By 1915, the District hired an engineering staff, which developed plans for valley-long channel improvements, levees, and storage basins to temporarily retain excessive rains. The system was designed to withstand rains and flows that would be up to 40% greater than those of 1913. Waters have been retained more than 1,000 times, thereby preventing flooding. Construction began in 1915 and was completed in 1923.

The Miami Conservancy District was the first of its kind in the nation, and has been an example of flood control protection. It is unique for having been developed, built, and supported financially just by those who benefit. The Miami Conservancy District is financially supported by an assessment on each property that was affected by the 1913 waters, related to the present value of the property because it is not at risk of flooding. All the other areas within the District are assessed because they benefit by reducing or eliminating danger to infrastructure, commerce, and transportation.

Late 1970's to early 1980's Chem-Dyne Toxic Waste Dump

Chem-Dyne is a hazardous waste dump site located on the east side of Hamilton. In 1982, the Justice Department disclosed that the hazardous chemicals at the dump included arsenic, benzene, cyanides, vinyl chloride, naphthalene, chloroform, polychlorinated biphenyls, trichloroethylene and the pesticides aldrin and dieldrin. It said these chemicals could cause poisoning, cancer, comas, mutations, blood disorders, nervous system problems, and other effects.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Chem-Dyne and asked the court to issue an injunction requiring the defendants to help with cleanup as well as to reimburse the Government for clearing and safeguarding the site, which the department said had already cost $826,000.

The defendants were alleged to have violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the so-called Superfund Act established to help pay for cleaning up hazardous waste sites. 4 Months of Talks Reported

The Justice Department said the out-of-court settlement with the other companies had been reached after four months of negotiations that included Ohio authorities. It did not identify the companies that settled.

There may still be toxic barrels located under the service at this site on Ford Blvd.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.08 square miles (57.19 km2), of which 21.60 square miles (55.94 km2) is land and 0.48 square miles (1.24 km2) is water.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 660
1830 1,079 63.5%
1840 1,406 30.3%
1850 3,210 128.3%
1860 7,223 125.0%
1870 11,081 53.4%
1880 12,122 9.4%
1890 17,565 44.9%
1900 23,914 36.1%
1910 35,279 47.5%
1920 39,675 12.5%
1930 52,176 31.5%
1940 40,592 −22.2%
1950 57,951 42.8%
1960 72,345 24.8%
1970 67,865 −6.2%
1980 63,189 −6.9%
1990 61,436 −2.8%
2000 60,690 −1.2%
2010 62,447 2.9%
2020 63,399 1.5%

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 62,477 people, 24,658 households, and 15,489 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,892.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,116.8/km2). There were 27,878 housing units at an average density of 1,290.6 per square mile (498.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.0% White, 8.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.6% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.4% of the population.

There were 24,658 households, of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.2% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.06.

The median age in the city was 35.3 years. 24.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.6% were from 25 to 44; 24.9% were from 45 to 64; and 13.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.

Sports

Hamilton was home to minor league baseball in 1884, 1889, 1911 and 1913, as the Hamilton Mechanics played as members of the Ohio State League.

Hamilton Joes

The Hamilton Joes (Baseball Club) is a collegiate summer baseball team that competes in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League (GLSCL), which is one of eight leagues formed under the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball (NACSB). (The NACSB is responsible for other high-profile leagues such as the Cape Cod Baseball League). The club was named after Cincinnati Reds baseball player and broadcaster Joe Nuxhall. The club's name is also a tribute to his legacy of giving to the community. The Joes inaugural season was in 2009. They won the GLSCL championship in 2010 and 2016. There have been 40 former Joes drafted or signed into professional baseball, most notably Brent Suter (2009, 2010) of the Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Rua (2010) of the Texas Rangers.

Little League World Series

West Side Little League of Hamilton has been to the Little League World Series contested in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1991, 1993, 2007, 2010, and 2021. In 2021, they won the Tom Seaver bracket and advanced to the championship game, where they lost to a team from Taylor, Michigan. West Side Little League has also won the state championship 19 times since 1988 in the majors division.

Education

Hamilton is served by the Hamilton City School District, which operates Hamilton High School. The district has underway a major $200 million capital program including construction of eight elementary schools, a freshman school, two completely renovated middle schools, and an upgraded high school with two new gyms, a new media center, six new classrooms and a new cafeteria.

In 2002, President George W. Bush visited Hamilton and signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law at Hamilton High School.

The Talawanda City School District and Talawanda High School in Oxford, Ohio serves a small portion of the city.

The Ross Local School District and Ross High School operate outside the city proper, serving a small portion of the city and surrounding rural area.

Father Stephen T. Badin High School, a private Catholic high school of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and several Catholic elementary schools (St. Ann Catholic School, St. Peter in Chains School, St. Joseph Consolidated School, Sacred Heart of Jesus School and Queen of Peace School), serve the city and surrounding area.

Richard Allen Schools, a charter school system, has a campus in Hamilton: Richard Allen Academy.

Miami University, based in Oxford, Ohio, has a regional campus in the city. Miami University Hamilton opened in 1968 and now has more than 5,000 students. It also has a campus in nearby Middletown, with about 2,700 students.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Highways serving Hamilton are US Highway 127, State Route 128, State Route 129, State Route 130, and State Route 4. Hamilton's location at the intersection of U.S. Route 127 and State Routes 128. 129, and 130 makes the city one of the few towns located at the intersection of four consecutively numbered highways.

Hamilton station is currently unused. It previously serviced passenger trains to Detroit (until 1971), Chicago, Washington and New York City (until 2005).

Lane Library System

Lane Libraries Community Technology Center
The Lane Libraries Community Technology Center

The Lane Public Library is located in an architecturally significant building in the heart of Hamilton's Historic German Village. Built in 1866 by local philanthropist Robert Clark Lane, the library building has survived floods and fires and has been improved by six separate renovations and expansion projects. It is a community focal point for Hamilton.

A significant building renovation in 1995-1996 upgraded the library for the 21st century's technology while protecting its Victorian architectural character. The 25,000-square foot building houses several library administration departments as well as the Circulation, Information, Teen, and Children's Departments. It has a large local history room, which also has materials related to genealogy.

Clark donated the first collection of materials to the library, approximately 3,000 books. Today, the collection numbers over 123,000. In addition to popular books and research volumes, the library offers the community access to videos, DVDs, CDs, CD ROMs, puppets, audio books and eBooks. In the year 2000, more than 435,000 items were checked out of Clark Lane's library, and staff members answered over 48,500 reference questions.

The Lane Public Library also features the Lane Libraries Community Technology Center, located on the ground floor of the historic Robinson-Schwenn Building at 10 Journal Square in downtown Hamilton. The center offers a high-tech collaborative work/play/create space with public use computers (both PC and Mac), high-end software, tablet and eReader demo displays, 3D printers and comfortable lounge-style seating with Wi-Fi available throughout.

Notable people

  • Denicos Allen, linebacker for Michigan State University
  • William Allen (1827-1881), United States Congressman
  • Jim Blount, newspaper editor
  • Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, guitarist (Ohio Players)
  • Frank Clair, former Canadian Football League coach
  • Ray Combs (1956-1996), comedian and second host of Family Feud
  • Aaron Cook, professional baseball player
  • Sheehan Donoghue, Wisconsin assemblyman
  • Robert Dove, Parliamentarian of the U.S. Senate
  • Greg Dulli, musician
  • Byron Elliott, Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court
  • Warren Gard (1873-1929), United States congressman, lawyer
  • Kevin Grevey, professional basketball player
  • Ronald Hamilton, opera singer
  • William Dean Howells, author
  • Fannie Hurst, author
  • David Klarich, politician from Missouri
  • Eric Lange, actor (Lost, Victorious)
  • Mark Lewis, professional baseball player
  • Joshua L. Liebman, rabbi
  • John Martinkovic, NFL player
  • Robert McCloskey (1914-2003), author and illustrator of children's books
  • Patrick McCollum, nationally recognized naturalist, conservationist
  • Kevin McGuff, women's college basketball coach at Ohio State University
  • Steve Morse, guitarist
  • William Pitt Murray, Minnesota politician and lawyer
  • Pamela Myers, actress
  • Jane Nelson, Texas state senator
  • Joe Nuxhall, professional baseball player
  • Adam Pankey, NFL Offensive Tackle
  • Patricia Parris, voice actress
  • Mark Peck, New Zealand member of Parliament
  • Nan Phelps, artist
  • Floyd "Breezy" Reid, American football running back
  • Frederick Rentschler, aircraft engine designer, aviation engineer, and industrialist
  • Charles Richter, seismologist and creator of Richter scale
  • Paul Sarringhaus, NFL player
  • David Shaw, musician
  • Simon Stepaniak, NFL player
  • Van Stephenson, musician
  • John Cleves Symmes Jr., soldier, philosopher
  • Pat Tabler, professional baseball player and broadcaster
  • Jim Tracy, professional baseball player and manager
  • Roger Troutman, singer, songwriter
  • Scott Walker, musician, singer, member of the Walker Brothers
  • Brad Warner, zen priest and author
  • Andrew R. Wheeler, lawyer and Acting Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Jane Delaplaine Wilson, author, daughter of Joshua Deleplane, one of the pioneer settlers of Ohio
  • Jimmy Wynn, MLB player

Images for kids

See also

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