Which state is high in the middle and low on both ends?
Ohio, coming from an Iroquois word meaning 'great water'1, is a mid-western state of the USA. It is heart-shaped and in what is traditionally considered the middle of the country2 and this is why it is referred to as 'The Heart of it All' on many car number (or licence) plates.
Despite some opinion that Ohio is one of the most average, normal states, it is actually a rather exciting place at times. In the meantime, here are some numbers to calm your heart-rate down.
- Population – 11,421,267 people (see below)
- Land Area – 116,096 square kilometres or 44,828 square miles
- Statehood Attained – 1 March, 1803
- State Capital City – Columbus
- Largest City – Columbus
- Largest Metropolitan Area – Cleveland
- State Bird – Cardinal
- State Tree – Buckeye
- Highest Point – Campbell Hill 1,550 feet
- Lowest Point – Ohio River 433 feet
- Telephone Area Codes – 216 – 234 – 330 – 419 – 440 – 513 – 614 – 740 – 937
Ohio is in the mid-western USA and is also commonly considered a Great Lakes State. It is the most eastern of the mid-western states and is one of only two mid-western states on Eastern Standard Time – the other is Michigan.
The southern border of the state is formed by the Ohio River – a tributary of the Mississippi, which separates Ohio from Kentucky to the south and West Virginia to the south-east. Most of the river runs along the Kentucky border, but a large part forms the border with West Virginia at its panhandle.
The eastern border of the state is shared with Pennsylvania.
The northern border is mostly formed by Lake Erie, which separates the state from Ontario, Canada. Cleveland lies on the Lake Erie border. The other part of the border is shared with Michigan, with which there was conflict about this border in the Toledo 'War'.
The western border of the state is shared entirely with Indiana. It runs directly north and south.
Ohio has some of the best farmland in the USA. 44% of Ohio is prime farmland – the state with the highest percentage in the country.
There are 11,421,267 people in Ohio, according to the 2002 Census. The census also determined the following demographic make-up of the Ohio population:
- 85% or 9,645,453 Ohioans are Caucasian3.
- 11% or 1,301,307 Ohioans are African Americans.
- 1.9% or 217,123 Ohioans are Latin-American.
- 1.4% or 157,885 Ohioans belong to more than one race.
- 1.2% or 132,633 Ohioans are Asian.
- 0.2% or 24,486 Ohioans are American Indian or Alaskan.
- 0.8% or 88,627 Ohioans consider themselves 'Other'.
What is most interesting about Ohio's population is the small groups of ethnic Europeans living in cities. Notably, in Cleveland there is a large German district where you can find German fudge, brick sidewalks and an abundant German population. Cincinatti also has a relatively large Polish population. In the far-eastern side of Ohio is a small group of Amish people who hail mostly from Pennsylvania Amish country.
There is no distinctive trait to a person from Ohio – no accent to detect4 and no major quirks associated with Ohioans. In fact, one of its cities, Dayton, was long nicknamed 'The Average City' and several products were tested there as it was as close to an average market as the country offered.
Ohio has a relatively agricultural economy for a northern state, but its economy is still largely based on manufacturing and services. Its Gross State Product in 1999 was 362 billion dollars – the seventh-biggest state economy in the nation5.
Northern cities such as Cleveland, Canton and Youngstown are associated with the steel industry. The raw ore that is used to supply the Ohio steel industry comes from the Great Lakes barges in Lake Erie. The city of Canton produces steel bearings especially, and most of the steel comes from Cleveland or Youngstown. Cleveland also produces metals, vehicles, chemicals and machinery.
Central counties in the state, especially to the west, are mostly associated with farming and raising livestock. There aren't any major bodies of water through central Ohio, so no major cities have developed except Columbus to the east. Major crops from this area are soybeans, corn6 and various vegetables.
Cincinnati, in the south of Ohio, is mostly a manufacturing and financial city. It manufactures tools, soaps, meats, chemicals and cosmetics. Downtown Cincinnati has a strong financial district – it is world headquarters to several important banks, and several prominent features in Cincinnati's skyline are bank buildings.
Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in Ohio. Unlike most cities in Ohio, it does not have a particularly good manufacturing sector, but it does produce aircraft, metals and vehicles. Instead of a large manufacturing base, it supplies a lot of government, financial and business services.
Other areas around Ohio are associated with specific products, usually because of a company's prominence in a city. Akron has rubber, Toledo has glass and Youngstown produces steel almost exclusively.
Food and agriculture is Ohio's top industry. Ohio's agricultural products include more than 200 crops – soybeans and corn are the state's top items. Ohio is also the top state producer of Swiss cheese and the second-largest producer of eggs. One in nine Ohioans is involved in some way in agriculture, and the average farmer feeds 129 people.
Ohio had 78,000 farms in 2002. 99% of those are still family farms, meaning that the state's farm industry is largely untouched by the commercialisation of agriculture.
Some Places of Interest
Despite some contention that Ohio is a 'normal' mid-western state, it has a number of interesting places to visit, including several zoos, Hall of Fames and other attractions.
Sandusky – On the shores of Lake Erie, Sandusky, Ohio is the rollercoaster capital of the world. It provides a home to Cedar Point – nationally recognised as one of the best places for rollercoasters and is often ranked as the best amusement park in the world. Cedar Point has the largest number of rollercoasters to be found anywhere in the world – fourteen. They include rides such as 'Mean Streak', 'Blue Streak', 'Millennium Force' and 'Top Fuel Dragster'.
Cleveland – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an important landmark of Cleveland. It is a couple of brilliantly-designed glass pyramids on the shore of Lake Erie, which goes over the side of a plaza to provide a raised circular gallery. At the bottom are the archives which include hundreds of historic items from rock 'n' roll history.
Canton – Canton has the Football Hall of Fame in it. It is its only tourist attraction, but Canton is near Cleveland, where you can find plenty of things to do.
Dayton – Ohio is credited as the state that invented flight and throughout 2003 the state celebrated the achievements of the Wright Brothers, on the centenary of the first controlled, heavier-than-air flight. Several temporary celebrations were formed that have since been taken down, but permanent installations such as a footbridge across the Great Miami River and a newly-built plaza exist as legacies of the celebrations and the Wrights.
Columbus – The Columbus Zoo is one of the best Zoos in the USA. The zoo provides a number of different areas to visit, including a well-known manatee exhibit and a panda habitat. It has a clean, well-designed layout that is as popular with adults as it is with children.
The Silly Ones
Bellefontaine – The World's Oldest Concrete Street (Corner of Court Avenue and Opera Street)
Carbon Hill – Pencil-sharpener Museum
Cleveland – World's Biggest Rubber Stamp
Dresden – Largest Basket
Lima – Collection of Things Swallowed by Mental Patients
Lima – World's Largest Collection of Albino Animals
North Canton – Vacuum-cleaner Museum
Other Items of Interest
Ohio, much like most states, has a number of professional sporting teams. They include:
The Cincinnati Reds – the oldest professional baseball team in existence, they now play from Great American Ballpark.
The Cleveland Indians – the Cleveland baseball team play at Jacobs Field.
The Cincinnati Bengals are the represenatives of the southern Ohio city in the National Football League (that is, American Football, of course).
The Cleveland Browns play in the National Football League as well, and are based in Cleveland Browns Stadium.
People from Ohio
Ohio has helped to provide the United States with seven Presidents – the most (or second-most) of any state in the nation, depending on how you count. They were:
- William Henry Harrison7
- Ulysses S Grant
- Rutherford B Hayes
- James A Garfield
- William McKinley
- William Howard Taft
- Warren G Harding
Some other famous people from Ohio include:
- John Glenn – astronaut
- Neil Armstrong – astronaut
- The Wright Brothers – pioneering aviators
- Pete Rose – baseball player
- Phil Donahue – talk-show host
- Steven Spielberg – film director
- Ted Turner – media mogul
- Doris Day – actress
- Clark Gable – actor
- Paul Newman – actor