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Canton City

Stark County, Ohio

Canton City Hall is located at 218 Cleveland Avenue, SW, Canton OH 44702.
Phone: 330‑489‑3283.

Garnet B. French House

Photo: Garnet B. French House, circa 1913, located at 2410 Cleveland Ave. NW., Canton. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. Photographed by wikipedia username: SanfranMan59, own work, 2008, via wikimedia commons [cc-3.0], ccessed September, 2021.

Canton [†] was one of the entrepreneurial centers of the previous century. For the auto industry it was the equivalent of what today's "Silicon Valley" is to the technology sector. Canton was home to "makers" - people who knew how to forge, mill, bolt, and assemble. Like Silicon Valley is today, these skills in Canton were unique and commanded high wages. As Canton grew in prosperity and population, its footprint grew as well, somewhat in size, but more so in density. As Canton expanded it also grew inward, with increasing densities of families serviced by alleys and courts between streets, avenues, and roads.


In 1950 at the city's height, Canton had a fairly well-matched supply of homes for its population, as well as sidewalks and parks and streets and shops and jobs and factories. Canton fairly efficiently used its roughly 30 square miles. It had jobs and houses near those jobs. There were places to shop. Churches. Social clubs. Parks. And a vibrant downtown. By 1950 Canton was the 8th largest city in Ohio, with nearly 120,000 people. Today, Canton remains the 8th largest of Ohio's 250 cities, but now has a population of about 70,000. As manufacturing gradually went overseas seeking cheaper labor, Canton began to experience a long, slow jobs decline. As foreign markets flooded the US with less expensive goods, prices in the US fell and labor cuts were inevitable.

With the jobs decline came a gradual decline in housing demand. Canton households stopped maintaining homes to the same level of standards as in earlier generations. Many of the homes built from 1890 to 1920 were not well built to begin with. But starting in the early 1950s, as housing was built in Jackson Township and North Canton, the older homes in Canton, being close to rail yards and factories, were not especially easy to market to an emerging middle class that was growing distinct from the city's pre-war working class roots.

The rise of the automobile that Canton helped produce gave America unprecedented freedom to travel—to live, to work, and to shop. This in turn played a major role in the growth of the suburbs. More and more middle class Canton families chose to buy in the suburbs, and these trends eventually led to a growing appetite in the suburbs for their own restaurants and shops, and eventually businesses. Decreasing demand to live in Canton preceded decreasing demand to shop and recreate in Canton. Of course, this was occurring in every industrial city in the United States; Canton was not alone. And, it was also a trend that was not especially easy to see. From 1950 to 1960 Canton only lost about three families a week, a number hardly noticeable. It would not be until the period 1970-1990 when, on average, the exodus was easier to see.

City of Cantom Comprehensive Plan, 2016, www.cantonohio.gov, accessed September, 2021.