I. Portrait of the Twelve States

Ohio

            Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803 as the 17th state. It was also the first wholly American state, the original 13 having begun as British colonies and the next three (Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee) having been carved out of them. Today, Ohio is the most easterly of the midwestern states, but two centuries ago it was the wild west --- the first bit of the Northwest Territory, which was created by act of Congress in 1787, to gain statehood.

             Ever since, as Michael Barone has remarked, it has seemed the "epitome of American normalcy," a good place to take the temperature of the nation. In 1970, Ben Wattenberg and Richard Scammon chose Dayton to typify what they called "The Real Majority." Seeking in 1996 to understand the grassroots reaction to Bill Clinton, The New York Times sent Michael Winerip, a star reporter, to live in Canton for a year. As part of a series exploring unemployment in Ohio's bicentennial year, 2003, The Washington Post focused on Newark, which it defined as "the middle of America," in economic if not geographical terms.
           
            Ohio is a squarish state, measuring 220 miles from north to south and the same from east to west. It is part of the Midwest flatlands, with no hill higher than 1,549 feet.
 The 2000 Census confirmed Ohio's standing as the nation's seventh largest state, with a population of 11,353,140. The state's population was less diverse than that of the nation as a whole, mainly because it had relatively few people of Asian and Hispanic origin; blacks made up 11.5 percent of Ohio's population, compared with 12.3 percent of the country's. The median annual household income, $40,956, closely approximated the national figure, $41,994.
           
            Columbus, the capital and the seat of The Ohio State University, was the largest city, with 711,470 people. But the population of its metropolitan area was much smaller, at 1,612,694, than those of Cleveland (2,148,143) and Cincinnati (2,009,632). In all, Ohio boasted seven of the 100 largest urban conglomerations, also including Dayton, Akron, Toledo and Youngstown.
           
            In the years after the Civil War, in which Ohioans like Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman played pivotal roles, Ohio experienced explosive growth. Cleveland was the early headquarters of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, and Ohio factories contributed enormously to the nation's growing industrial strength. Cleveland and Youngstown made steel, Toledo made glass and automobiles, Akron made tires, Canton made bearings, Dayton made cash registers and Cincinnati made soap.
           
            But most of the steel mills have gone dark, and other industries have suffered. Ohio is growing slowly --- much less rapidly than states like Texas and California --- which has cost it seats in the House of Representatives and the electoral votes that go with them. Its House delegation in 2003 was its smallest since the 1820's. (Cleveland has been shrinking for decades; it was the sixth largest city in the country as recently as 1940.) No longer do the major parties turn to Ohioans in assembling Presidential tickets.
 
            Between 1840 and 1920, no fewer than eight Ohioans were elected President --- William Henry Harrison, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, McKinley, William Howard Taft and Harding. In 1920, in fact, both nominees were Ohio newspaper publishers, Warren G. Harding from Marion for the Republicans and James M. Cox from Dayton for the Democrats. Since then, no Buckeye has been nominated for President, though Robert A. Taft was a contender in 1952, and none has been nominated for vice president by a majority party since John W. Bricker in 1944.
           
            William McKinley and Mark Hanna --- the first a former governor and former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee from Canton, the second a coal and iron baron and party boss from Cleveland --- put Ohio's imprint on the nation in the Golden Age. It began in 1896 when Hanna, as chairman of the Republican National Committee, engineered McKinley's election as president, inaugurating a 34-year-period of G.O.P. dominance, locally and nationally. The two of them stood for hard money, high tariffs and an aggressive Americanism abroad, verging on imperialism.
 
            The Depression brought sitdown strikes, sometimes marked by violence, and fierce political combat between the unions, especially the new Congress of Industrial Organizations, and the Republican establishment, personified by Robert Taft, a son of the 27th President. One result was the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act, enacted in Washington in 1947; another was a new equipoise between the parties in Ohio, which made it a major battleground of national politics for the rest of the 20th century.
           
            But the Republicans reasserted control in 2000. George W. Bush carried the state, as his father had fatally failed to do in 1992, and the Republicans emerged from the balloting in control of the governorship, all the lesser statewide offices, both senate seats and both houses of the legislature. For the moment at least, Ohio's role as a bellwether seemed at an end. The earliest days of what was to become Ohio belonged, of course, to the Native Americans. Of the prehistoric peoples called the Mound Builders we know little. But their astonishing Serpent Mound, an earthen embankment in the shape of a snake, almost a quarter-mile long, still stands near Peebles, in the countryside east of Cincinnati, as evidence of their sophistication.
 
            When the white man arrived, he found various tribes, including the Miami, the Shawnee, the Ottawa and the Iroquois Confederacy. Organized settlement began in 1788, when a group of colonists from New England founded Marietta, on the Ohio River; the home of General Rufus Putnam, superintendent of the Ohio Company, is preserved there. Hostile Indians blocked expansion for a time, and in 1791 Indians equipped with British arms inflicted a catastrophic defeat on General Arthur St. Clair, who lost 700 of his men in a battle at Fort Recovery on the Indiana border. But three years later, General Anthony Wayne defeated Indians allied with the British at Fallen Timbers, near Toledo, ending British hopes of maintaining control of the Northwest Territory. In 1795, Wayne forced the Indians to cede their lands to the United States. The Indians were pushed further west, and settlers stormed in. Statehood followed just eight years later.
 
            Ohio's first constitution was a profoundly Jeffersonian document. More democratic than those of the eastern states, it provided for universal male suffrage and imposed strict limitations on executive authority. "They saw their new state as a blank canvass on which they could paint a magnificent future of prosperity and harmony," wrote Andrew R. L. Cayton in Ohio: The History of a People (2002). "The creation of Ohio was one of the great acts of the American Enlightenment."
           
            Traveling through the Ohio Valley in the 1830's, the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville was impressed by the young state's progress, in particular its "fine crops" and "elegant dwellings." South of the river, he wrote, slavery made labor degrading, but north of it, where labor was considered honorable, "man appears rich and contented." 
           
            Harriet Beecher Stowe, who had lived in Cincinnati for many years, dramatized the differences between Kentucky and Ohio in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), which tells the story of the young slave Eliza, who risked her life on the ice floes of the Ohio to reach freedom. In real life, fleeing slaves were sheltered in Oberlin and other Ohio "stations" on the Underground Railroad. On the eve of the Civil War, Ohio was the third largest state in the country, and Cincinnati was the country's largest inland city.
           
            The pioneers took two main routes, breaching the Appalachian barrier in the north as well as the south. New Englanders and New Yorkers followed the Mohawk Valley and Lake Erie west, replicating in the Western Reserve of northern Ohio the town greens they had left behind, with white-steepled churches. Hudson, chartered in April 1803, by the new General Assembly, still looks like a Connecticut village, complete with red-brick boarding school.
 
            Southern Ohio, on the other hand, was settled largely by Kentuckians and Virginians, many of whom came down the Ohio River. They gave southern Ohio an Appalachian flavor that persists to this day. Cincinnati, the metropolis of the south, has more in common with Louisville, Memphis and other cities than it does with Cleveland. Ohio is a state of two cultures, with northern accents north of Route 40 and southern accents south of it. In the nineteenth century, they differed in their view of the Civil War, with Butternut and Copperhead sentiment dominant in the south; in the twentieth, voting often divided in the same way.
           
            At the beginning, Ohio was overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly English-speaking, although there was a significant minority of German-speakers. But as coal mines and factories developed, Italians, Poles, Hungarians, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes and Croatians arrived to man them, along with blacks from the South. They gave Cleveland, in particular, a far different character from the rest of the state, culturally and politically. Leaders like Frank Lausche emerged from its "cosmo wards," where the central Europeans lived.
 
            In a speech to the Ohio Society of New York in 1910, Wilbur Wright remarked that if he were to give advice to a young man on how to succeed in life, he would say, "pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio." An exaggeration, of course, but an exaggeration grounded in reality. In the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early years of the 20th, a group of practical, down-to-earth yet visionary Ohioans invented things that revolutionized modern society.
           
            Thomas A. Edison, born in Milan, developed the first workable phonograph and the first workable electric light bulb. Wilbur Wright and his brother, Orville, born in Dayton, achieved the first sustained airplane flight. Charles F. Kettering, born in Loudonville, invented the cash register and the automobile self-starter and, eventually, gave his name to the nation's greatest center for cancer research, in New York.
           
            Rockefeller, a Baptist workaholic, lived in Cleveland for three decades. He became the richest man in the country not through an invention but by perfecting an organization that controlled every aspect of the oil business. He helped to transform Ohio, and not only by turning it from a predominantly agricultural state into a mainly industrial one. Rockefeller money, and that of contemporaries such as Stephen V. Harkness, Jeptha H. Wade, John L. Severance, and Henry Clay Folger, poured into Cleveland's major cultural institutions.
           
            Their philanthropy helps to explain why Cleveland, now in the second rank of American cities in terms of population, has one of the country's two or three best symphony orchestras and one of its half-dozen top art museums. (It also has the popular Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located there in part because Alan Freed, a local disk jockey, coined the phrase "rock and roll.")
           
            Smaller museums were made possible by other Ohio fortunes, notably those in Toledo, Youngstown, Columbus and Oberlin. Cincinnati supports a pair of excellent art museums, though they are less encyclopedic than Cleveland's. And thanks to its big Germanic population (57.4 percent of the total in 1890), the Queen City of the West, as Longfellow called it, has long had a rich musical tradition, beginning in 1873 with the May Festival, now the oldest choral gala in the Western Hemisphere. Ohio's greatest painter, George Bellows, found his best subjects not in the middle-class Columbus neighborhood where he grew up but in the rawer, more turbulent aspects of big-city life, like trains, factories, slums and the violent world of boxing.
           
            He was not alone in leaving the state. Ohio-born writers and other intellectuals headed for New York and Chicago in droves, and many of them condemned what their native state, especially its small towns, as banal and philistine. William Dean Howells invented a prototype, christened it "Dulldale" and inveighed against "the meanness and hollowness of that wretched little village-life." James Thurber savagely caricatured Columbus in My Life and Hard Times (1933).
 
            Sherwood Anderson's portrait of Winesburg, Ohio (1919), is more subtly drawn. He, too, decried conformity, but he saw it rooted in human nature, not in the Midwest; the problem, he argued, lies in the inability of human beings to connect with each other.
 Yet however blinkered it may have seemed, Ohio emphasized higher education in its earliest days, looking to the wider world. Ohio University in Athens was chartered in 1804, the second year of the state's existence; The Ohio State University, the land grant school, dates from 1870. Although none of the state's 130-odd colleges and universities has quite achieved the academic eminence of Midwestern rivals like Wisconsin and Michigan, Ohio State and Case Western Reserve are highly regarded, and liberal-arts colleges such as Oberlin, Denison, Antioch and Kenyon have all built up national reputations.
           
            Ohio State's intellectual achievements are not as well publicized as those of its football teams. In a sports-mad state, the Buckeyes have been a powerhouse for more than half a century. Ohio is known as well for producing football coaches, from Woody Hayes, Don Shula and Ara Parseghian to Paul Brown, who founded both of the state's pro teams, the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, and helped bring the Pro Football Hall of Fame to Canton, where the pro game started.
           
            The Cincinnati Reds (ne Red Stockings), America's first professional baseball team, went 65-0 in 1869, their inaugural season. Since then, the Reds and the Cleveland Indians have fielded future Hall-of-Famers like Tris Speaker, Bob Feller and Johnny Bench. The sprinter Jesse Owens, from Cleveland, was one of the great Olympic heroes. More recently, the golfer Jack Nicklaus, from Columbus, dominated his sport.
As the new millennium began, Ohio faced formidable challenges. Governor Bob Taft, scion of Ohio's greatest political family and great-grandson of the state's next-to-last president, put it bluntly: "We're not moving fast enough to keep pace with our competitors or to replace jobs lost to productivity." The trouble had been a long time brewing. Muscle-bound by its dependence on heavy industry at a time when manufacturing jobs were disappearing, it ranked 34th among the 50 states in the increased value of goods and services produced between 1988 and 1998. Well-paying manufacturing jobs constituted a third of all of the state's jobs in 1969 but less than a fifth by 2000, and most of the service and other jobs that replaced them did not pay as much.
 
            Cleveland had particularly hard going in the quarter-century that began in 1965. The Cuyahoga River became so fouled with industrial wastes that one day in June, 1969, it caught fire. At a ceremony designed to demonstrate his solidarity with the city's working men, Mayor Ralph J. Perk set his hair afire. His successor, Dennis Kucinich, mismanaged Cleveland into the first financial default by a major United States city in modern times. People began deriding it as The Mistake by the Lake.
           
            The postwar years saw a vast African-American migration into Ohio's cities. By 1980, Cleveland's population was 43 percent black. Cincinnati, Dayton and Youngstown were a third black, and Akron and Columbus were almost a quarter black. Few of the migrants found the economic security that they had hoped for in their new lives.
 In Cleveland's inner-city neighborhoods, largely abandoned in mass flight by the white middle classes, racial discontent mounted. A 1966 uprising in Hough, a black slum, was followed by widespread violence in Glenville in 1968, though a black man, Carl B. Stokes had been elected mayor in 1967. Cincinnati had had its own demonstrations in 1967, and it went through another nasty patch in 2001 following the shooting of a black man by a white policeman.
           
            Unrest of another kind, fuelled by opposition to the Vietnam war, led to student demonstrations at Kent State University in 1970. Inexperienced National Guardsman, dispatched by Governor James A. Rhodes, opened fire, killing four students and wounding nine others. The episode became a metaphor for the chasm that was opening between the war's backers and its foes. "Ohio, once the land of endless beginnings, had become a place of deadly endings," Andrew Cayton wrote.
           
            The Rustbelt cities mounted a counterattack, and to some extent it succeeded. Cleveland built itself a Ritz-Carlton, new office towers, a new ball park and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cincinnati developed a specialty in avant-garde architecture, hiring Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Peter Eisenmann and finally the British-born Iraqi, Zaha Hadid, whose Contemporary Arts Center, her first project in the U. S., was widely hailed as a masterpiece.
           
            Both cities, and Columbus as well, emerged as regional banking capitals, and both cities generated new jobs through small-scale manufacturing. As steel mills vanished, machine-tool and other plants multiplied. Akron turned itself into a polymer technology center, taking up some of the slack caused by the shuttering of tire factories.
Yet Ohio's easy access to coal and to iron ore, together with its dense network of east-west railroads and highways that had powered the state's earlier growth, no longer counted for as much in an era driven by technology. What mattered most in the new age was education, and there Ohio lagged most of its sister states, despite its wealth of degree-granting institutions.
           
            While politicians bragged about low taxes, they spent relatively little on schooling. In 2002, the state ranked 41st in the percentage of residents 25 or older holding bachelor's degrees, 39th in the percentage holding graduate degrees and 40th in per-capita spending for higher education. The picture was not much better on the local level. Cleveland's school system was packed with run-down buildings and underachieving students; a superintendent warned that "the future will pass us by" if radical change was not forthcoming. 
           
            Even with innovative programs instituted by several governors, Ohio made slow progress in its effort to share in the knowledge-based economic revolution as have neighboring states like Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan. As a whole, the state's economy stood perilously close to stagnation.
 
R.W. Apple, Jr.                                                                                                   
Associate Editor, The New York Times
 

 

Ohio

            Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803 as the 17th state. It was also the first wholly American state, the original 13 having begun as British colonies and the next three (Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee) having been carved out of them. Today, Ohio is the most easterly of the midwestern states, but two centuries ago it was the wild west --- the first bit of the Northwest Territory, which was created by act of Congress in 1787, to gain statehood.

             Ever since, as Michael Barone has remarked, it has seemed the "epitome of American normalcy," a good place to take the temperature of the nation. In 1970, Ben Wattenberg and Richard Scammon chose Dayton to typify what they called "The Real Majority." Seeking in 1996 to understand the grassroots reaction to Bill Clinton, The New York Times sent Michael Winerip, a star reporter, to live in Canton for a year. As part of a series exploring unemployment in Ohio's bicentennial year, 2003, The Washington Post focused on Newark, which it defined as "the middle of America," in economic if not geographical terms.
           
            Ohio is a squarish state, measuring 220 miles from north to south and the same from east to west. It is part of the Midwest flatlands, with no hill higher than 1,549 feet.
 The 2000 Census confirmed Ohio's standing as the nation's seventh largest state, with a population of 11,353,140. The state's population was less diverse than that of the nation as a whole, mainly because it had relatively few people of Asian and Hispanic origin; blacks made up 11.5 percent of Ohio's population, compared with 12.3 percent of the country's. The median annual household income, $40,956, closely approximated the national figure, $41,994.
           
            Columbus, the capital and the seat of The Ohio State University, was the largest city, with 711,470 people. But the population of its metropolitan area was much smaller, at 1,612,694, than those of Cleveland (2,148,143) and Cincinnati (2,009,632). In all, Ohio boasted seven of the 100 largest urban conglomerations, also including Dayton, Akron, Toledo and Youngstown.
           
            In the years after the Civil War, in which Ohioans like Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman played pivotal roles, Ohio experienced explosive growth. Cleveland was the early headquarters of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, and Ohio factories contributed enormously to the nation's growing industrial strength. Cleveland and Youngstown made steel, Toledo made glass and automobiles, Akron made tires, Canton made bearings, Dayton made cash registers and Cincinnati made soap.
           
            But most of the steel mills have gone dark, and other industries have suffered. Ohio is growing slowly --- much less rapidly than states like Texas and California --- which has cost it seats in the House of Representatives and the electoral votes that go with them. Its House delegation in 2003 was its smallest since the 1820's. (Cleveland has been shrinking for decades; it was the sixth largest city in the country as recently as 1940.) No longer do the major parties turn to Ohioans in assembling Presidential tickets.
 
            Between 1840 and 1920, no fewer than eight Ohioans were elected President --- William Henry Harrison, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, McKinley, William Howard Taft and Harding. In 1920, in fact, both nominees were Ohio newspaper publishers, Warren G. Harding from Marion for the Republicans and James M. Cox from Dayton for the Democrats. Since then, no Buckeye has been nominated for President, though Robert A. Taft was a contender in 1952, and none has been nominated for vice president by a majority party since John W. Bricker in 1944.
           
            William McKinley and Mark Hanna --- the first a former governor and former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee from Canton, the second a coal and iron baron and party boss from Cleveland --- put Ohio's imprint on the nation in the Golden Age. It began in 1896 when Hanna, as chairman of the Republican National Committee, engineered McKinley's election as president, inaugurating a 34-year-period of G.O.P. dominance, locally and nationally. The two of them stood for hard money, high tariffs and an aggressive Americanism abroad, verging on imperialism.
 
            The Depression brought sitdown strikes, sometimes marked by violence, and fierce political combat between the unions, especially the new Congress of Industrial Organizations, and the Republican establishment, personified by Robert Taft, a son of the 27th President. One result was the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act, enacted in Washington in 1947; another was a new equipoise between the parties in Ohio, which made it a major battleground of national politics for the rest of the 20th century.
           
            But the Republicans reasserted control in 2000. George W. Bush carried the state, as his father had fatally failed to do in 1992, and the Republicans emerged from the balloting in control of the governorship, all the lesser statewide offices, both senate seats and both houses of the legislature. For the moment at least, Ohio's role as a bellwether seemed at an end. The earliest days of what was to become Ohio belonged, of course, to the Native Americans. Of the prehistoric peoples called the Mound Builders we know little. But their astonishing Serpent Mound, an earthen embankment in the shape of a snake, almost a quarter-mile long, still stands near Peebles, in the countryside east of Cincinnati, as evidence of their sophistication.
 
            When the white man arrived, he found various tribes, including the Miami, the Shawnee, the Ottawa and the Iroquois Confederacy. Organized settlement began in 1788, when a group of colonists from New England founded Marietta, on the Ohio River; the home of General Rufus Putnam, superintendent of the Ohio Company, is preserved there. Hostile Indians blocked expansion for a time, and in 1791 Indians equipped with British arms inflicted a catastrophic defeat on General Arthur St. Clair, who lost 700 of his men in a battle at Fort Recovery on the Indiana border. But three years later, General Anthony Wayne defeated Indians allied with the British at Fallen Timbers, near Toledo, ending British hopes of maintaining control of the Northwest Territory. In 1795, Wayne forced the Indians to cede their lands to the United States. The Indians were pushed further west, and settlers stormed in. Statehood followed just eight years later.
 
            Ohio's first constitution was a profoundly Jeffersonian document. More democratic than those of the eastern states, it provided for universal male suffrage and imposed strict limitations on executive authority. "They saw their new state as a blank canvass on which they could paint a magnificent future of prosperity and harmony," wrote Andrew R. L. Cayton in Ohio: The History of a People (2002). "The creation of Ohio was one of the great acts of the American Enlightenment."
           
            Traveling through the Ohio Valley in the 1830's, the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville was impressed by the young state's progress, in particular its "fine crops" and "elegant dwellings." South of the river, he wrote, slavery made labor degrading, but north of it, where labor was considered honorable, "man appears rich and contented." 
           
            Harriet Beecher Stowe, who had lived in Cincinnati for many years, dramatized the differences between Kentucky and Ohio in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), which tells the story of the young slave Eliza, who risked her life on the ice floes of the Ohio to reach freedom. In real life, fleeing slaves were sheltered in Oberlin and other Ohio "stations" on the Underground Railroad. On the eve of the Civil War, Ohio was the third largest state in the country, and Cincinnati was the country's largest inland city.
           
            The pioneers took two main routes, breaching the Appalachian barrier in the north as well as the south. New Englanders and New Yorkers followed the Mohawk Valley and Lake Erie west, replicating in the Western Reserve of northern Ohio the town greens they had left behind, with white-steepled churches. Hudson, chartered in April 1803, by the new General Assembly, still looks like a Connecticut village, complete with red-brick boarding school.
 
            Southern Ohio, on the other hand, was settled largely by Kentuckians and Virginians, many of whom came down the Ohio River. They gave southern Ohio an Appalachian flavor that persists to this day. Cincinnati, the metropolis of the south, has more in common with Louisville, Memphis and other cities than it does with Cleveland. Ohio is a state of two cultures, with northern accents north of Route 40 and southern accents south of it. In the nineteenth century, they differed in their view of the Civil War, with Butternut and Copperhead sentiment dominant in the south; in the twentieth, voting often divided in the same way.
           
            At the beginning, Ohio was overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly English-speaking, although there was a significant minority of German-speakers. But as coal mines and factories developed, Italians, Poles, Hungarians, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes and Croatians arrived to man them, along with blacks from the South. They gave Cleveland, in particular, a far different character from the rest of the state, culturally and politically. Leaders like Frank Lausche emerged from its "cosmo wards," where the central Europeans lived.
 
            In a speech to the Ohio Society of New York in 1910, Wilbur Wright remarked that if he were to give advice to a young man on how to succeed in life, he would say, "pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio." An exaggeration, of course, but an exaggeration grounded in reality. In the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early years of the 20th, a group of practical, down-to-earth yet visionary Ohioans invented things that revolutionized modern society.
           
            Thomas A. Edison, born in Milan, developed the first workable phonograph and the first workable electric light bulb. Wilbur Wright and his brother, Orville, born in Dayton, achieved the first sustained airplane flight. Charles F. Kettering, born in Loudonville, invented the cash register and the automobile self-starter and, eventually, gave his name to the nation's greatest center for cancer research, in New York.
           
            Rockefeller, a Baptist workaholic, lived in Cleveland for three decades. He became the richest man in the country not through an invention but by perfecting an organization that controlled every aspect of the oil business. He helped to transform Ohio, and not only by turning it from a predominantly agricultural state into a mainly industrial one. Rockefeller money, and that of contemporaries such as Stephen V. Harkness, Jeptha H. Wade, John L. Severance, and Henry Clay Folger, poured into Cleveland's major cultural institutions.
           
            Their philanthropy helps to explain why Cleveland, now in the second rank of American cities in terms of population, has one of the country's two or three best symphony orchestras and one of its half-dozen top art museums. (It also has the popular Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located there in part because Alan Freed, a local disk jockey, coined the phrase "rock and roll.")
           
            Smaller museums were made possible by other Ohio fortunes, notably those in Toledo, Youngstown, Columbus and Oberlin. Cincinnati supports a pair of excellent art museums, though they are less encyclopedic than Cleveland's. And thanks to its big Germanic population (57.4 percent of the total in 1890), the Queen City of the West, as Longfellow called it, has long had a rich musical tradition, beginning in 1873 with the May Festival, now the oldest choral gala in the Western Hemisphere. Ohio's greatest painter, George Bellows, found his best subjects not in the middle-class Columbus neighborhood where he grew up but in the rawer, more turbulent aspects of big-city life, like trains, factories, slums and the violent world of boxing.
           
            He was not alone in leaving the state. Ohio-born writers and other intellectuals headed for New York and Chicago in droves, and many of them condemned what their native state, especially its small towns, as banal and philistine. William Dean Howells invented a prototype, christened it "Dulldale" and inveighed against "the meanness and hollowness of that wretched little village-life." James Thurber savagely caricatured Columbus in My Life and Hard Times (1933).
 
            Sherwood Anderson's portrait of Winesburg, Ohio (1919), is more subtly drawn. He, too, decried conformity, but he saw it rooted in human nature, not in the Midwest; the problem, he argued, lies in the inability of human beings to connect with each other.
 Yet however blinkered it may have seemed, Ohio emphasized higher education in its earliest days, looking to the wider world. Ohio University in Athens was chartered in 1804, the second year of the state's existence; The Ohio State University, the land grant school, dates from 1870. Although none of the state's 130-odd colleges and universities has quite achieved the academic eminence of Midwestern rivals like Wisconsin and Michigan, Ohio State and Case Western Reserve are highly regarded, and liberal-arts colleges such as Oberlin, Denison, Antioch and Kenyon have all built up national reputations.
           
            Ohio State's intellectual achievements are not as well publicized as those of its football teams. In a sports-mad state, the Buckeyes have been a powerhouse for more than half a century. Ohio is known as well for producing football coaches, from Woody Hayes, Don Shula and Ara Parseghian to Paul Brown, who founded both of the state's pro teams, the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, and helped bring the Pro Football Hall of Fame to Canton, where the pro game started.
           
            The Cincinnati Reds (ne Red Stockings), America's first professional baseball team, went 65-0 in 1869, their inaugural season. Since then, the Reds and the Cleveland Indians have fielded future Hall-of-Famers like Tris Speaker, Bob Feller and Johnny Bench. The sprinter Jesse Owens, from Cleveland, was one of the great Olympic heroes. More recently, the golfer Jack Nicklaus, from Columbus, dominated his sport.
As the new millennium began, Ohio faced formidable challenges. Governor Bob Taft, scion of Ohio's greatest political family and great-grandson of the state's next-to-last president, put it bluntly: "We're not moving fast enough to keep pace with our competitors or to replace jobs lost to productivity." The trouble had been a long time brewing. Muscle-bound by its dependence on heavy industry at a time when manufacturing jobs were disappearing, it ranked 34th among the 50 states in the increased value of goods and services produced between 1988 and 1998. Well-paying manufacturing jobs constituted a third of all of the state's jobs in 1969 but less than a fifth by 2000, and most of the service and other jobs that replaced them did not pay as much.
 
            Cleveland had particularly hard going in the quarter-century that began in 1965. The Cuyahoga River became so fouled with industrial wastes that one day in June, 1969, it caught fire. At a ceremony designed to demonstrate his solidarity with the city's working men, Mayor Ralph J. Perk set his hair afire. His successor, Dennis Kucinich, mismanaged Cleveland into the first financial default by a major United States city in modern times. People began deriding it as The Mistake by the Lake.
           
            The postwar years saw a vast African-American migration into Ohio's cities. By 1980, Cleveland's population was 43 percent black. Cincinnati, Dayton and Youngstown were a third black, and Akron and Columbus were almost a quarter black. Few of the migrants found the economic security that they had hoped for in their new lives.
 In Cleveland's inner-city neighborhoods, largely abandoned in mass flight by the white middle classes, racial discontent mounted. A 1966 uprising in Hough, a black slum, was followed by widespread violence in Glenville in 1968, though a black man, Carl B. Stokes had been elected mayor in 1967. Cincinnati had had its own demonstrations in 1967, and it went through another nasty patch in 2001 following the shooting of a black man by a white policeman.
           
            Unrest of another kind, fuelled by opposition to the Vietnam war, led to student demonstrations at Kent State University in 1970. Inexperienced National Guardsman, dispatched by Governor James A. Rhodes, opened fire, killing four students and wounding nine others. The episode became a metaphor for the chasm that was opening between the war's backers and its foes. "Ohio, once the land of endless beginnings, had become a place of deadly endings," Andrew Cayton wrote.
           
            The Rustbelt cities mounted a counterattack, and to some extent it succeeded. Cleveland built itself a Ritz-Carlton, new office towers, a new ball park and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cincinnati developed a specialty in avant-garde architecture, hiring Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Peter Eisenmann and finally the British-born Iraqi, Zaha Hadid, whose Contemporary Arts Center, her first project in the U. S., was widely hailed as a masterpiece.
           
            Both cities, and Columbus as well, emerged as regional banking capitals, and both cities generated new jobs through small-scale manufacturing. As steel mills vanished, machine-tool and other plants multiplied. Akron turned itself into a polymer technology center, taking up some of the slack caused by the shuttering of tire factories.
Yet Ohio's easy access to coal and to iron ore, together with its dense network of east-west railroads and highways that had powered the state's earlier growth, no longer counted for as much in an era driven by technology. What mattered most in the new age was education, and there Ohio lagged most of its sister states, despite its wealth of degree-granting institutions.
           
            While politicians bragged about low taxes, they spent relatively little on schooling. In 2002, the state ranked 41st in the percentage of residents 25 or older holding bachelor's degrees, 39th in the percentage holding graduate degrees and 40th in per-capita spending for higher education. The picture was not much better on the local level. Cleveland's school system was packed with run-down buildings and underachieving students; a superintendent warned that "the future will pass us by" if radical change was not forthcoming. 
           
            Even with innovative programs instituted by several governors, Ohio made slow progress in its effort to share in the knowledge-based economic revolution as have neighboring states like Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan. As a whole, the state's economy stood perilously close to stagnation.
 
R.W. Apple, Jr.                                                                                                   
Associate Editor, The New York Times
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