the 1890s, Dayton, Ohio, was emerging as a typical city in
an increasingly industrialized America. It boasted a growing
manufacturing economy; modern municipal improvements, such
as paved streets, electric lighting, streetcars, and a telephone
system; and surging population growth.
the 20th Century
By its centennial in 1896, Dayton was experiencing
unprecedented expansion and economic strength. Its population
had reached 80,000. With a thousand factories, machine shops,
and foundries, it had become a national center for the production
of farm implements, bicycles, metal castings, and railroad
cars. Dayton was also home of the National Cash Register Company,
a major force behind the city’s prosperity.
A setting for innovation
Dayton’s emergence as a center of manufacturing
and industry made it a place conducive to technological innovation.
The Wright brothers’ own bicycle manufacturing business
placed them squarely within this environment.