Hamilton, Ohio

Not to be confused with Hamilton County, Ohio.
Hamilton, Ohio
City of Hamilton

High Street, looking east, c. 1911
Motto: "An Award Winning Community"[1]

Location of Hamilton, Ohio

Location of Hamilton in Butler County
Coordinates: 39°23′45″N 84°33′54″W / 39.39583°N 84.56500°W / 39.39583; -84.56500Coordinates: 39°23′45″N 84°33′54″W / 39.39583°N 84.56500°W / 39.39583; -84.56500
Country United States
State Ohio
County Butler
  Total 22.08 sq mi (57.19 km2)
  Land 21.60 sq mi (55.94 km2)
  Water 0.48 sq mi (1.24 km2)
Elevation[3] 594 ft (181 m)
Population (2010)[4]
  Total 62,477
  Estimate (2012[5]) 62,295
  Density 2,892.5/sq mi (1,116.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 513
FIPS code 39-33012[6]
GNIS feature ID 1064784[3]
Website http://www.hamilton-city.org/

Hamilton is a city in and the county seat of Butler County, Ohio, United States, in the state's southwestern corner.[7] The population was 62,447 at the 2010 census.[8] The city is part of the Cincinnati metropolitan area. Its neighborhood of Lindenwald, settled by German immigrants in the mid-19th century and later, is one of three designated National Historic Districts.

The city has a council-manager form of government. Its mayor is Patrick Moeller and the city manager is Joshua Smith. Most of the city is in the Hamilton City School District.

The industrial city is seeking to revitalize through the arts; it was officially declared the "City of Sculpture" in 2000.[9] Its initiative has attracted many sculpture installations to the city, which founded the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park.


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.[10]

Niles Tool Works, Hamilton, Ohio, 1896.[11]

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.[12][13]

In the 1920s, many Chicago gangsters established second homes in Hamilton. This gave Hamilton the nickname "Little Chicago". Some of these men appeared to have invested in what became an active district of gambling and prostitution. During World War II, the military declared the entire city off-limits to its enlisted personnel because of its numerous gambling and prostitution establishments. Madame Freeze's and the long row of prostitution houses along Wood Street (now called Pershing Ave) were notorious among soldiers. 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.[3]

On 30 March 1975, Easter Sunday, James Ruppert murdered 11 family members in his mother's house at 635 Minor Avenue in Hamilton, in what is referred to as the "Easter Sunday Massacre". The murders shocked the town of Hamilton and the entire country. This was the deadliest shooting inside a private residence in American history.

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![14] 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.[15]

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, and some committed suicide because of severe losses. 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.

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 said hazardous chemicals at the dump include 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.

They filed suit and asked the court to issue an injunction requiring the defendants to help with cleanup and 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.


Hamilton is located at 39°23′45″N 84°33′54″W / 39.39583°N 84.56500°W / 39.39583; -84.56500 (39.395806, -84.564920).[16]

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.[2]


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.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201562,407[17]−0.1%

2010 census

As of the census[4] 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.

2000 census

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 60,690 people, 24,188 households, and 15,867 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,808.2 people per square mile (1,084.3/km²). There were 25,913 housing units at an average density of 1,199.0/sq mi (463.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.94% White, 7.55% African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.46% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.58% of the population.

There were 24,188 households out of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.4% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 92.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,365, and the median income for a family was $41,936. Males had a median income of $32,646 versus $23,850 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,493. About 10.6% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.1% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.

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.

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.


Hamilton is served by the Hamilton City School district. 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.[23]

Talawanda, Ross, and New Miami School Districts also serve corners of the city.

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),[24] serve the city and surrounding area.

Miami University, based in Oxford, Ohio, has a regional campus in the city. Miami University Hamilton opened in 1968 and now has more than [25] 5,000 students. It also has a campus in nearby Middletown, with about 2,700 students.

The Lane Libraries Community Technology Center

Lane Library System

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, Clark Lane, Lane Library has the distinction of being the oldest public library west of the Alleghenies. Now in its 148th year, 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 wifi available throughout.


The Council consists of seven members who are elected in non-partisan elections at staggered intervals and serve four-year terms. They elect a mayor within the council, and together select and appoint a professional city manager to operate the city. Operating as the legislative branch of the City, the Council provides policy direction to the City Manager.[26] The judge of the municipal court is also an elected official.[26]

The city's Council-Manager form of government was established in 1926, based then on election by proportional representation with a single transferable vote (STV).[27] This system was developed to try to meet the rapidly changing needs of cities with their growing immigrant populations. "The PR/STV ballot allows voters to rank order their choices in either at-large or multimember district elections. With each ballot ultimately counting toward the election of one candidate, voters' preferences can be transferred to second or subsequent choices if their most preferred candidate is already elected or has no chance of election, thus maximizing the proportion of effective votes and permitting minorities to win their share of seats."[27]

Hamilton was one of several major Ohio cities that adopted the PR/STV form of elections in the early 20th century; Ashtabula was the first in 1915. This system was considered more progressive than plurality voting, with winner take all, and the at-large election system found in some cities, which also benefited the majority and generally succeeded in preventing minorities from gaining office. Use of PR/STV resulted in more minorities, including women, being able to enter politics and attain positions on city councils which they likely otherwise would not have gained in at-large voting.[27] Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a significant minority is that representing 5% or more of the population.

The success of PR/STV nationally (including in New York City for a time) led to a political backlash from bosses and parties that lost power. In Hamilton, opponents mounted numerous campaigns to repeal the charter, finally succeeding after four failed referendums in 12 years.[28] Since the city of Hamilton returned to plurality voting, the African-American minority has less frequently been able to win seats on the council.[28] In 2015, however, city council members include two women (white) and an African-American man; other members are white males.[26]

The City Manager operates as chief executive officer, directing a workforce of more than 675 permanent employees and a $400+ million budget. The city also maintains a Public Safety Director for the City, responsible for police protection, staffed by more than 110 full-time professionals, and fire protection, staffed by more than 110 full-time fire fighters.[26]

Notable people

Little League World Series

West Side Little League in Hamilton, Ohio has been to the Little League World Series four times. Little Leaguers from Hamilton have made the trip to Williamsport in 1991, 1993, 2007, and 2010. Hamilton Little League has also won eight of the last nine state championships, and ten of the last twelve, as of 2016.


  1. "An Award Winning Community (archived)". City of Hamilton, Ohio. Archived from the original on February 9, 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  2. 1 2 "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  5. "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. "American FactFinder2". Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  9. "Hamilton carves new future", The Enquirer, 29 May 2002
  10. "Abraham Lincoln Visits Southwestern Ohio", Rootsweb
  11. Arnold, Horace L. "Modern Machine-Shop Economics. Part II" in Engineering Magazine, 1896, p. 11
  12. Jones, Richard O. "Beth Israel celebrates 100 years", JournalNews, 24 October 2011.
  13. Beth Israel History, Synagogue website, retrieved 4 November 2008.
  14. "City's Gimmick", The Cincinnati Enquirer, 21 September 2001
  15. "Water Awards", Berkeley Springs, West Virginia website
  16. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  17. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  18. "Population: Ohio" (PDF). 1910 U.S. Census. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  19. "Population: Ohio" (PDF). 1930 US Census. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  20. "Number of Inhabitants: Ohio" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  21. "Ohio: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  22. "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  23. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020108-1.html
  24. Stjoseph.swoca.net
  25. http://www.regionals.muohio.edu/about/hamilton.htm
  26. 1 2 3 4 "City Manager's Office", Hamilton City website, accessed 30 March 2015
  27. 1 2 3 Kathleen L. Barber, PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION AND ELECTION REFORM IN OHIO (excerpt), Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1995, pp. Introduction
  28. 1 2 Douglas J. Amy, "A Brief History of Proportional Representation in the United States", revised version of "The Forgotten History of the Single Transferable Vote in the United States," in Representation 34, number 1 (Winter 1996/7), accessed 30 March 2015
  29. Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967.

External links

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