River Walk Sites
The Dayton YMCA
The YMCA of Greater Dayton has been serving the Miami Valley since 1858, “building a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” After out-growing several buildings in Dayton, the “Central Branch” of the Dayton YMCA opened at 316 N. Wilkinson Street on September 8, 1929. The $1.3 million facility had 13 classrooms, 4 laboratories, facilities for up to 1,000 students, a swimming pool, chapel, library, handball courts, three gymnasiums, 245 residence rooms, a cafeteria, and an auditorium with seating for 450. Today, this facility remains a thriving part of downtown Dayton. Information courtesy of YMCA.
With its bike-friendliness to adjacent river bikeways, walkability to nearby places like the Dayton Dragons games, Schuster Center art performances, and festivals, McPherson Town Historic District is one of Dayton’s most livable neighborhoods. The neighborhood was founded in 1845. The homes are primarily Queen Anne and Eastlake styles.
The 1913 Flood hit the neighborhood hard, with about 15 feet of water. The Miami Conservancy District dams and levees have protected the nearly 100 structures in the neighborhood ever since. After World War II,, the flight to the suburbs led to a period of decline. But renewal began slowly in the 1970s. Today, more than 90 percent of the neighborhood buildings have been renovated at least once, sometimes more. Information courtesy of McPherson Town.
Founded in 1919, The Dayton Art Institute is one of the region’s premier fine arts museums.
In addition to exhibiting outstanding special exhibitions and impressive collections of art from throughout the world, the museum is renowned for education programming that includes an array of offerings for diverse audiences.
The Dayton Art Institute sits atop a hill on the edge of the Great Miami River overlooking downtown Dayton. The museum’s founding patrons included prominent community leaders such as Orville Wright and the Pattersons of NCR. The museum’s landmark building, designed by prominent museum architect Edward B. Green of Buffalo and completed in 1930, was modeled after the Villa d’Este near Rome and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola in Italy, both examples of sixteenth century Italian Renaissance architecture. Today, The Dayton Art Institute’s architecturally and historically significant facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum’s collection spans 5,000 years of art history, including important Oceanic art, Asian art, European art, and American fine and decorative art collections. Information courtesy of the Dayton Art Institute.
Private George Washington Fair stands atop of the Soldiers’ Monument on Main Street. His likeness was not the first choice, according to Dayton historian Curt Dalton.
The original accepted design was of a figure representing the Goddess of Liberty. Ex-Civil War soldiers protested vehemently, however, and passed a resolution requesting the goddess be substituted by a Union private soldier. George Washington Fair, a 6-foot, 200-pound bricklayer and an ex-Union soldier, served as the model.
The Soldiers Monument was unveiled on July 31, 1884. A crowd of 100,000 people, one of the city’s largest at a time when Dayton’s population was reported to be 40,000, crowded in for the dedication on July 31, 1884.
Pvt. Fair died Jan. 21, 1888 and is buried at Woodland Cemetery.
The original marble statue, damaged by decades of weather, now stands under cover at the entrance of the Dayton VA Medical Center. The soldier we see looking over Main Street today was recast in bronze in 1991. Information and photo courtesy Dayton Daily News.
River Run opens the downtown river to a beautiful 7-mile paddle from Eastwood MetroPark on the Mad River through downtown to Carillon Historical Park and the University of Dayton area.
Two structures span the river, each with passageways: One smooth-water passageway for novice paddlers and one whitewater play feature for more experienced paddlers. River Run also allows people to fish, sunbathe and enjoy the river downtown in new ways. Information courtesy Five Rivers MetroParks.
In 2015, the Miami Conservancy District and its partners – Downtown Dayton Partnership, Five Rivers MetroParks, CareSource, and Cox Media Group – joined forces to beautify the floodwall across the Great Miami River from RiverScape MetroPark. The result is a 16-foot tall by 1,000-foot long painted mural, designed by local artist Amy Deal and painted by local art education organization K-12 Gallery & TEJAS.
The mural design skillfully draws on colors from the surrounding landscape to underscore what is special about this place. While featuring people enjoying outdoor recreation activities and diverse wildlife, the mural also includes geometric references to water’s movement, bicycle spokes, and the frame of a Wright Brothers’ biplane.
The mural is painted on a Miami Conservancy District’s floodwall that has protected the neighborhood from flooding since 1922. Now, the wall continues to provide protection but serves as a beautiful addition to RiverScape, downtown Dayton and the view.
First Baptist Church was founded on May 29, 1824, just 19 years after the city’s incorporation. By the late 19th century, the Sunday School had more than 700 members.
The church broke ground for a new building just three months before the Great 1913 Flood that swept over the city, killing 360 people. The flood swamped the standing First Baptist building with 9 feet of water, as well as the foundation for the new church. But once the floodwaters receded, the church pressed on and resumed construction. The cornerstone was laid on May 31, 1914. On June 26, 1915 the magnificent Gothic structure opened its doors.
The church fell on harder times decades later, but First Baptist Church has experienced a significant renewal since then. Information courtesy of First Baptist Church.