Who knew Ytown had so much to offer?
We want to thank Youngstown Nation for allowing us to share the content below. Over the course of the next five months, we’ll share a select few items from his original, “50 Things to do in Youngstown.” Who knew Ytown had so much to offer?
Since 1926, Stambaugh Auditorium has served as a premier entertainment venue in the region and the crown jewel of Youngstown’s historic Wick Park neighborhood. The venue gets its name from Henry Stambaugh who was a prominent local businessman in the early 20th century. The Greco-Roman style auditorium features a 2,500+ concert hall, a 9,700-square-foot ballroom, recital hall and an outdoor garden/reception area for private functions. The concert area’s acoustic quality has been compared to that of Carnegie Hall by those who have played both. It’s also home to a large un-augmented E.M.Skinner pipe organ (the only remaining one in the area) as well as Opera Western Reserve. Stambaugh is a popular place for weddings and community events but also for many national acts and speakers.
The Mahoning Valley Historical Society has two locations in the greater downtown area where one can learn about local history. The first is the Arms Family Museum of Local History which is located on Wick Ave. Built in 1905, the first floor features original period rooms while the lower level and second floor showcase a complete history of life in the Mahoning Valley. A gift shop is located in the back. Arms is also a great place to view historic photos of the Valley. The second location is the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center located on W. Federal Street in downtown. Purchased by the MVHS in 2008 and originally home to Good Humor Ice Cream and Ross Radio, the 22,400-square-foot facility has three floors with a beautiful grand ballroom on the second. Already a popular place for notable community events, the MVHS is currently in the process of developing a large exhibit room on the third floor. Both are must-dos on this list.
For a city its size, Youngstown possesses an impressive cultural community. To that end, there are a number of local community theaters which consistently turn out one great show after another. The Youngstown Playhouse is the oldest continually operating community theater in the nation. The Oakland Center For The Arts started in a West Side car garage. 26 years and 150 full-length theatrical productions later, it is the city’s only downtown theater. In addition to plays, it also features indie films, talent shows and gallery exhibitions. The Victorian Players was started by a professor at Youngstown State in 1992 and conducts its plays in a former Mahoning Commons church built in the 1890s. And the Rust Belt Theater Company conducts their original shows at the Calvin Center For The Arts, a former elementary school once operated by the church next door. There’s other great community theater groups in the area as well so your options are plentiful on this front. Metro Monthly always provides a good comprehensive monthly calendar. Support the locals and go check out a show.
Located in the heart of downtown Youngstown in the historic McCory building, Oh! Wow is a STEM-focused, interactive children’s center. It draws thousands of families each year and consistently has new and interesting hands-on exhibits which will ‘wow’ both young and old alike. To that end, Oh Wow! also offers different adult-themed events like the popular Science Of Brewing. Bonus recommendation: After your visit, be sure to take the kiddies for a treat at Touch Of The Moon Candy Saloon and/or One Hot Cookie, both just a stone’s throw away on Phelps Street.
Located on the YSU campus, the Ward-Beecher Planetarium is one of Youngstown’s lesser-known but very interesting places for quality entertainment. The 145 seat venue uses a $490K Chronos star projector on its 40-foot diameter dome to offer free public programs of the cosmic variety nearly every weekend (and has for over 40 years). Evening programs are geared for general audiences while Saturday afternoons are normally intended for families and children. However, sometimes they mix things up (check out this rock n’ roll lazer show). Whether you’re 8 or 80, you’ll enjoy the planetarium. And you’re likely to learn something in the process.
That’s right. Youngstown has its own symphony orchestra (since 1925) and it’s pretty awesome. Perhaps the only thing more awesome than the orchestra, itself, is the venue in which it plays. Edward J. Powers Auditorium was built in 1931 by Warner brothers (yes, the Warner brothers) Harry, Jack and Albert in memory of their brother Sam. Originally named the Warner Theater, it served as cinema house – one of many that the Warner Brothers Film Company would open nationwide in the years to come. Decades later and with millions invested in restoration, the theater remains an incredible remnant of the golden age of cinema. It’s easily one of the finest in all of the Midwest. Symphony performances run from October through May. Make dinner reservations downtown, go see a show and experience some big city culture in smaller city Youngstown.
Iron and steel played such a significant role in the evolution of Youngstown that the city actually has an entire museum dedicated to the life and times of this era. Located on W. Wood Street in downtown and designed by renowned architect Michael Graves, the ‘Steel Museum’ is an impressive, three-story exhibit/archive/library which one really must visit to appreciate. By the time you are done with a tour, you’ll have a very good understanding (and appreciation) for the blood, sweat and steel that went into making Youngstown one of the great industrial regions of the 20th century. The facility also has a large community room in which lectures and programs are held regularly throughout the year. Follow the museum on Facebook here to stay updated. Bonus: head to the east side to check the Tod Engine Heritage Park in June or September for one of their biannual tours. A very interesting and impressive project.
Established in 1919 by local industrialist and philanthropist Joseph G. Butler, ‘The Butler‘ was the first museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to American art. It’s known worldwide as ‘America’s Museum’ and is, without question, a crown jewel of the local area. The gallery features over 20,000 works of art spanning three centuries. In recent years, the museum has expanded significantly, adding a cafe, a digital art gallery and the acquisition of adjacent First Christian Church. Over 100,000 people visit the Butler each year. Be one of them and be amazed. Bonus recommendation: check out the annual Area Artists exhibition which features the best artists within a 40 mile radius.
Self-described as ‘Youngstown’s Second Greatest Wonder’ (it’s unclear what’s first…it might be the very question itself), Star Supply Bargain Outlet is a quirky closeout bargain warehouse located on Mahoning Ave just outside of downtown Youngstown. This ‘adventure in shopping’ at the ‘flea market without the fleas’ features a 25,000-square-foot array of items ranging from practical to super random. In one aisle, you may find stop lights, a box of hula dancer dashboard ornaments, and some discount paint. In another, it might be a deal on gas masks, some great bar stools and a case of industrial size bolts. Who knows? Every trip is a new adventure. In addition to the interesting selection, the store’s signage and general decor ranges from funny to the strikingly abstract. Here’s a video interview with owner Richard Rosenthal who explains what Star Supply is all about. Bonus recommendation: check out Greyland Gallery in downtown Youngstown for a random assortment of very interesting and cool vintage items! See the video below:
Originating in Chicago and made popular in Detroit, Youngstown SOUP is a micro-granting dinner celebrating creative projects in Youngstown. For $5 you receive homemade soup, salad, bread, and a vote. You will hear four project presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology, etc. Presenters have four minutes to share their idea and answer questions. Then, you eat and socialize. After the break, votes are counted and whoever has the most votes takes home all of the money collected that night. It’s a simple and fun event that draws a large, diverse crowd. Events are held every three months.
Several times a year, some of the area’s best artists from across the Valley gather to sell a gala of interesting crafts, art, food and other unique gifts. Titled Artists Of The Rust Belt, the event is held at the B&O Station Banquet Hall, Youngstown’s beautifully repurposed main train station. There are juried expeditions, food trucks and an open bar which features Youngstown’s microbrew, Rust Belt Brewing Company. This is a great event for the person who appreciates the arts and loves supporting locals. Bonus recommendation: Artists of The Mahoning Commons Ward Bakery Building open studio and sale. The Ward Bakery is a former bakery-turned-artist colony and opens to the public for these bi-annual events. A super cool, raw venue that’s worth checking out (and also within walking distance of Lake Glacier in Mill Creek MetroPark). Double Bonus Recommendation: West Side resident and nationally known comic artist and writer Chris Yambar’s annual ‘Lawn Con’ event.
While we live in a digital era with instant access to information in ways too numerous to mention, it’s nice to know there are still old-fashioned bookstores that appreciate the value of a good read. In Youngstown, there’s a couple of cool independent shops. Located on the corner on Madison & Elm in the Wick Park neighborhood, Dorian Books offers a wide selection in a very chic storefront that also doubles (in part) as a flower shop. The store also hosts a popular monthly BYOB live musical series called ‘Music on Madison’. Another good spot is Pig Iron Press’s Lost Pages on N. Phelps Street in downtown Youngstown. The three-story building is located in an old cigar shop on the last completely intact street in the city. In addition to used books, Pig Iron also hosts monthly poetry and creative writing workshops. Take some time to appreciate a page from the past and pick up a good read from either or both of these unique businesses.
About 15 years ago, the leadership team at the Youngstown Business Incubator made a very risky but important decision: they would focus exclusively on business-to-business software companies. While some thought this was too limiting for a place like Youngstown, it proved to be a game changer. The YBI has grown from one building to a campus of nearly 6 and incubates 23 companies (and growing). Within the campus resides YBI ‘graduate’ Turning Technologies which, not long ago, was rated as the fastest growing privately held software company in the nation. On the southern end is the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a national research & development center spearheaded by the Obama administration (which got two State Of The Union shout outs). The YBI was also recently rated as the one of the best in the world. You can take a tour of the facility by contacting Chief Evangelist Jim Cossler. A great example of Youngstown 2.0.