2010-10-01 / Travel

Rust Belt to Renaissance— the Youngstown Experience

By Warner M. Montgomery Warner@TheColumbiaStar.com

Ed Latimer of Columbia was elected president of the International Association of Torch Clubs (IATC) at the 2010 convention in Youngstown. Ed (left) and his wife, Dot. Ed Latimer of Columbia was elected president of the International Association of Torch Clubs (IATC) at the 2010 convention in Youngstown. Ed (left) and his wife, Dot. Last June, Linda and I had the privilege of visiting Youngstown, Ohio, for the annual convention of the International Association of Torch Clubs. Columbia attorney Ed Latimer is the new president ,and I serve on the board of directors. Each year we hold a convention in the hometown of one of the clubs. The 2013 convention will be in Columbia.

The highlight of all Torch Club conventions is learning the city’s history and culture. Youngstown’s theme dealt with northeast Ohio’s tragic experience in 1977 when the steel mills shut down. Thousands of families depended on the mills that lined 25 miles of riverfront through Youngstown and its adjoining communities. Within one year, Youngstown’s population shrunk from 140,000 to 100,000, and the shine on the steel began to rust. Seventy thousand people are now struggling with the city’s renaissance.

The energetic young mayor, Jay Williams, told us of his “Transformational Plan” that has used “Rust Belt Chic” to reinvent Youngstown as a technology center. He explained with pride how the city is now a top–10 business startup–friendly city eager to once again be the progressive leader between Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

These photos demonstrate some of our experience in Youngstown. Flanders Field – Where Soldiers Sleep and Poppies Grow by Robert Vannoh hangs in the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown. The painting memorializes the poem

written during World War I by John McCrae:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

Linda enjoys Winslow Homer’s 1872 painting, Snap the Whip, purchased by the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown. The museum was founded in 1917 by Joseph G. Butler Jr., a Youngstown steel magnate. Linda enjoys Winslow Homer’s 1872 painting, Snap the Whip, purchased by the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown. The museum was founded in 1917 by Joseph G. Butler Jr., a Youngstown steel magnate.

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

V&M Star, a French company, located in an abandoned steel mill in Youngstown in 2002. It is now North America’s leading producer of seamless tubular steel pipe. They recently announced an expansion that will create 200 new jobs. V&M Star, a French company, located in an abandoned steel mill in Youngstown in 2002. It is now North America’s leading producer of seamless tubular steel pipe. They recently announced an expansion that will create 200 new jobs.

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.
Lincoln the Railsplitter by Norman Rockwel l 1965 was purchased by the Butler Institute in 2007. It stands seven–feet tal l , cost $1.6 million, and was formerly owned by Ross Perot. Lincoln the Railsplitter by Norman Rockwel l 1965 was purchased by the Butler Institute in 2007. It stands seven–feet tal l , cost $1.6 million, and was formerly owned by Ross Perot.
By 1900 Youngstown was the center of Amer ica’s steel industry. In order to fil l the labor roles, the companies recruited workers from among the disenfranchised in eastern Europe. This sign, now in the Youngstown Steel Museum, shows the languages spoken in the mills. By 1900 Youngstown was the center of Amer ica’s steel industry. In order to fil l the labor roles, the companies recruited workers from among the disenfranchised in eastern Europe. This sign, now in the Youngstown Steel Museum, shows the languages spoken in the mills.
On Black Monday, September 19, 1977, Youngstown Steel closed and 4,000 workers lost their jobs. Within a few months other mills closed, and over 40,000 disappeared. This vacant house, once owned by steel company executives, has been for sale for over 30 years. On Black Monday, September 19, 1977, Youngstown Steel closed and 4,000 workers lost their jobs. Within a few months other mills closed, and over 40,000 disappeared. This vacant house, once owned by steel company executives, has been for sale for over 30 years.

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