Last Updated: November 3, 2022
Youngstown, Ohio, which is located in the northeast corner of the state, is the county seat of Mahoning County. According to the 2010 United States Census, there were nearly 67,000 residents in the city while the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman metropolitan area includes more than 500,000 people. The city and metropolitan area borders the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line.
Youngstown is located along the Mahoning River and is around 65 miles east of Cleveland, which is one of the state’s largest metropolises, and 61 miles west of Pittsburgh. Youngstown is also halfway between New York City and Chicago, along Interstate 80.
The city is named for John Young, who was an American surveyor and pioneer who founded Youngstown, and is in a region often referred to as the Rust Belt. Traditionally a steel mill city, Youngstown had to redefine its economic culture when the steel industry fell in the late 20th century.
History of Youngstown
The city was formed in 1797 and many of the initial residents came from Connecticut and Pennsylvania. By 1876, Youngstown became the county seat and has remained so ever since.
The discovery of coal in the early 19th century significantly impacted the city’s industrial culture, which continued well into the 20th century. The Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal Company was organized in 1835 and the Erie Canal was completed in 1840. The creation of railroads in the middle of the 19th century made transportation and industrial growth easier for Youngstown.
The city’s booming coal industry brought inhabitants from many European countries, including Wales, Germany and Ireland. In the early 20th century, Youngstown experienced an increase in people from non-European countries such as Lebanon, Israel and Syria. The demographic shift resulted in a backlash from natives, and Youngstown became a hotbed for Ku Klux Klan activity in the 1920s. By the end of the decade, the white supremacy group was completely out of the city.
By the middle of the 20th century, the coal and steel industries continued to produce economic growth and brought a greater influx of people and backgrounds to the city. However, the industry suffered a collapse in the 1970s and Youngstown was tasked with reinventing its culture and economy.
Youngstown turned to technology-based companies at the turn of the century. The Youngstown Business Incubator is a nonprofit organization that fosters the growth of startup technology brands. The incubator has more than a dozen tenants and recently finished construction of the Taft Technology Center.
The state of Ohio has an extremely varied climate due to how far north and south the state stretches. While southern cities, such as Cincinnati, experience less snow and hotter summer months, northern cities experience colder winters and more enjoyable summers.
Youngstown is located in the northeast corner of the state, which means the city endures cold winters but often avoids extreme humidity. The hottest month on averageis July, which has a median temperature of 81 degrees. Only four months — June, July, August and September — have an average temperature above 70 degrees.
Yet, the winter months have averages in the 20s, with January’s median low at 19 degrees. The annual average high is 58 degrees and the average low is 40 degrees. On average, Youngstown gets 64 inches of snow each year, and January’s annual 17 inches is the highest monthly average.
History of Youngstown
While Youngstown has a little more than 65,000 people, the Mahoning Valley area, as a whole, tops 760,000 inhabitants. However, the regional economy has struggled since the 1970s and population even reached a record low in 2007 among cities with at least 65,000 residents. Between 1960 and 2010, the population decreased by more than 60 percent due to lack of jobs and few entertainment options. Youngstown’s vacant-housing rate is 20 times higher than the national average.
The racial demographics were nearly split between Caucasian and African American backgrounds during the 2010 Census. Around 47 percent of the population was white, and nearly 46 percent was black. Hispanic or Latino made up nearly 10 percent of Youngstown’s population.
Around 29 percent of the households include children under the age of 18. Of these, only around 25 percent are married couples living together and 43.6 percent are non-families. Almost a quarter of these households include a single female parent or guardian, but no father or husband present.
The population is spread out in terms of age, with a little more than 26 percent between the ages 45 – 64. Nearly 25 percent are between the ages 25 – 44, and around 23 percent are under 18 years old.
What to Do in Youngstown
Aside from the city’s close proximity to both Cleveland and Pittsburgh, there are numerous activities for people to enjoy in Youngstown. Many of the attractions are museums or outdoor areas. Some of the most popular attractions in Youngstown and its surrounding areas include:
- Fellow Riverside Gardens
- Mill Creek Park
- The Butler Institute of American Art
- White House Fruit Farm
- Lanterman’s Mill
- Arms Family Museum
- Stambaugh Auditorium
- Youngstown Museum of Industry and Labor
- Vintage Estate Wine and Beer
- De Yor Performing Arts Center
- Covelli Centre
- Mr. Darby’s Antique and Collectible Emporium
- Vintage VanBlair Antiques and Oddities
There is one professional sports team, the Youngstown Phantoms. The ice hockey team is part of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Now-defunct teams include numerous minor league baseball teams:
- Youngstown Ohio Works
- Youngstown Champs
- Youngstown Indians
- Youngstown Steelmen
- Youngstown Browns
- Youngstown Gremlins
- Youngstown Athletics
Youngstown State University is the largest college in the city and competes athletically in the NCAA. All sports compete in NCAA Division I, aside from football which is in NCAA Division I-AA. The Covelli Centre is the main sports-related venue and is home to the Phantoms. The city plans to develop vacant land adjacent to the Centre for a park, riverwalk, amphitheater or athletic stadium for the local high schools.
Government, Crime and Education in Youngstown
Youngstown’s government includes a mayor that is decided by a public election held every four years, and the mayor is limited to a maximum of two terms. The city has leaned toward electing Democratic mayors since the 1920s, and the current mayor is Jameal Tito Brown.
Residents also elect an eight-member city council composed of representatives of the city’s seven wards, plus a council president. The council appoints a city clerk and governs the Youngstown Police Department, Youngstown Fire Department, city parks, civil service, community development, city health, planning committees and the city water department. Youngstown is served by the Youngstown City School District but also includes the Diocese of Youngstown, which has nearly 20 Catholic schools from elementary school to high school.
Crime has been a problem for many Rust Belt communities such as Youngstown. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the city was connected with gangland slayings that were often committed using car bombs. The town gained notoriety for the criminal act and the phrase “Youngstown tune-up” was often used to describe the rash of car-bomb murders. The New Republic stated in a report back in 2000 that “the chief of police, the outgoing prosecutor, the sheriff, the county engineer, members of the local police force, a city law director, several defense attorneys, politicians, judges and a former assistant U.S. attorney” were controlled by organized crime groups. Despite the attempts since to clean up mob activity, Morgan Quitno Press ranked Youngstown as the ninth most dangerous city in the country, as of 2007. Find more information on drug and alcohol statistics throughout Ohio, including information on The Recovery Village Columbus.
Criminal activity has continued to drop, though, as Forbes ranked Youngstown the fourth best city in the United States to raise a family in, partly due to the city’s improving safety. While a quiet town, Youngstown’s proximity to major cities such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh makes it an ideal spot for a family seeking the small-town vibe with big-city offerings nearby. A dropping crime rate and recovering economy are more positives for this city in northeastern Ohio.