The Youngstown Ghetto Story
The Youngstown ghetto is located in a small town that’s similar to an East St. Louis, Gary, Indiana, or Flint, Michigan, while being between the two cities of Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
What was once one of the most thriving and wealthiest cities in the country, during the early part of the 1900s, changed and declined as many jobs were lost in the city’s steel industry that was important to the city’s success.
The beginning of the Youngstown black population starts with the steel workers going on strike during the early part of the 1900s. With the need of workers and cheap labor, many southern blacks were recruited by steel companies, which helped the start of Youngstown’s black community.
Just like every other city before the 1960s, Youngstown was segregated with blacks only living on the South Side and parts of the East Side. The city eventually started changing with the closing of the steel factories that eventually led to a financial decline and a lack of opportunities, going from a thriving and wealthy city to being label as the Youngstown ghetto.
Places like the North Side, which was the city’s richest community and a once predominantly thriving Italian neighborhood, became one of the roughest areas of the Youngstown ghetto with the likes of the Brier Hill projects, Wirt Street, and Westlake Terrace, which was one of the first housing projects to be built in the country.
While in the 1970s and 1980s the Italian Mafia controlled most of the city, by the late 80s and 90s a new breed took over. With the introduction of drugs and gangs, the city became known for certain affiliations of the Bloods and Crips, as the Italian Mafia of Youngstown slowly disappeared, with the Youngstown gangs taken over.
Youngstown gangs would later begin to slowly fade away, with local neighborhoods or cliques and the idea of earning money becoming more important than the Bloods and Crips, even though some still exist in the streets.
Neighborhoods of the Youngstown ghetto like Down The Hill and other blocks on the South Side, or the projects on the East Side off of McGuffy like the Victory Estates, Plaza View, and the Brooks, now Rockford Village, are just a few of the city’s urban communities.
Today, Youngstown is still one of the roughest places in Ohio, with more opportunities in the streets than in the actual job market, due to the location and the size of the actual metropolitan. Opportunities in the Youngstown-Warren area are not easy to come about, with about 10,000 of the 12,000 plus jobs employing less than 20 employees.
As most of the city’s neighborhoods poverty rate is around 40% and the average income of $24,000 compared to its metropolitan average income of $43,000, the city’s future is unknown, as vacant properties have plagued all sides of the city other than the West Side.
*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.