By 1988, Dr. Joseph Watras proclaimed “the housing patterns in Dayton and its suburbs to be the third most racially segregated among the fifty largest metropolitain areas in the United States.”
How did Dayton come to be the third most segregated city in the United States?
Coloring the Gem City is the title of an Antioch College History Senior Thesis undertaken by Eric Rhodes ’16. The project examines the creation of racial segregation in Dayton from roughly 1930 through 2015. The focus will be on the role of the nexus of federal, state, and local housing policy and suburbanization. It also touches on the intellectual history of urban planning in Dayton, Ohio (and in US cities generally), as well as the social sciences’ treatment of urbanity throughout the 20th century.
As a component of his preliminary research, Eric is conducting interviews with national and area scholars, as well as people whose lives have been affected by segregation in Dayton. He’s also doing GIS analysis of racial demographics in Dayton in order to visually illustrate the contours of segregation during the past 85 years. GIS will also be used to trace the development of the Dayton Metro Area, from its inception in 1947. The end result will be a public resource which community members can consult for information on the subject, to be hosted on the website listed above.

Eric Rhodes

Antioch College