Ohio’s Notable Cities and Towns

Ohio Special Report in Executive America

One of the best ways to define the beauty and prominence of a country is by looking at the prosperity of its cities. Here are the best cities of Ohio that you should include on your itinerary upon setting foot in the state.


Established on July 22, 1796, Cleveland was believed to be laid out first by surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company while working out the area’s Western Reserve into a major city township. They named the new settlement “Cleaveland” after their leader, General Moses Cleaveland.

Those workers oversaw the New England-style design of the plan for what would become the modern downtown area, centered on Public Square. The first permanent European settler in Cleaveland was Lorenzo Carter, who built a cabin on the banks of the Cuyahoga River.

By the early 20th century, the city emerged as a major American manufacturing center. The businesses that propelled it to prominence included automotive companies such as Peerless, Chandler, and Winton – makers of the first cars ever driven across the US during the country’s rise to global popularity.

By the turn of the 21st century, Cleveland succeeded in developing a more diversified economy. It has earned a countrywide reputation of being “a center for healthcare and artistic expression.” Over the decades, it became a national leader in environmental protection due to the success it attained during the cleanup of the Cuyahoga River which suffered from rot and environmental decay due to the intense industrialization that the US went through.

With the economic development of neighborhoods, improvement of city schools, and continued encouragement of new immigration, Cleveland’s downtown architecture became very diversified. Many of the city’s government and civic buildings are clustered around the open Cleveland Mall and share a common neoclassical architecture.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 82.47 square miles of land, 4.77 square miles of which, is water. The shore of Lake Erie, one of the hottest tourist spots in Ohio, is 569 feet above sea level. Cleveland exhibits a continental climate with four distinct seasons which is typical of the Great Lakes region.

The city’s most recent endeavor is to improve freshwater and air quality. Cleveland is now exploring renewable energy, as the government pours a great portion of its resources towards a greener premises that should set as an example for the other states.

The city’s two main electrical utilities are First Energy and Cleveland Public Power. Its climate action plan is attaining a 100% renewable power source by 2050. Such a feat is evidenced by the reduction of greenhouse gases which is 80% lower compared to the previous decades as recorded in the Cleveland progress report of 2010.


Settled in 1788, Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. The city is located at the northern side of the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers, the latter of which marks the state line with Kentucky. With an estimated population of 2,190,209, it is Ohio’s largest metropolitan area and the 29th-largest in the US.

Throughout much of the 19th century, it was among the Top Ten American cities by population, surpassed only by New Orleans and the older, established settlements of the United States eastern seaboard. It is recorded as the sixth-most populous city in the country from 1840 until 1860.

Cincinnati ushered a significant number of German-speaking immigrants, who founded many of the city’s cultural institutions, though it developed with fewer immigrants and less influence from Europe than East Coast cities by the end of the 19th century. At that time, there was a shift from steamboats to railroads drawing off-freight shipping, and trade patterns had altered with Cincinnati’s growth slowing considerably.

Cincinnati is home to three major sports teams: the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball; the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League; and FC Cincinnati of Major League Soccer; it is also home to the Cincinnati Cyclones, a minor league ice hockey team. The city’s largest institution of higher education, the University of Cincinnati, was founded in 1819 as a municipal college and is now ranked as one of the 50 largest in the United States.

The city has an array of historic architecture with many structures in the urban core that have remained intact for 200 years. In the late 1800s, Cincinnati was commonly referred to as the “Paris of America,” mainly due to ambitious architectural projects such as the Music Hall, the Cincinnatian Hotel, and Shillito Department Store. The city is the birthplace of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States.

Cincinnati is at the southern limit of the humid continental climate zone, bordering the humid subtropical climate zone. Summers are hot and humid, with significant rainfall each month and highs reaching 90 °F or above on 21 days per year, often with high dew points and humidity.

The gross domestic product for the region was $127 billion in 2015. The median home price is $158,200, and the cost of living in Cincinnati is 8% below the national average. The unemployment rate is also below the average at 4.2%.

Several Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Cincinnati, including The Kroger Company, Fifth Third Bank, and General Electric. Metropolitan Cincinnati has the twenty-eighth largest economy in the United States and the fifth-largest in the Midwest, after Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, and St. Louis. In 2016, it had the fastest-growing Midwestern economic capital.


Dayton is the sixth-largest city in Ohio. It is the seat of the Montgomery County, with a small part of it extending into Greene County. The 2020 US census recorded Dayton’s population at around 814,049, making it the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Ohio and 73rd in the US.

Because of its location and manufacturing infrastructure, the Dayton area is a logistical hub for manufacturers, suppliers, and shippers. The region also hosts significant research and development in fields like industrial, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering that have led to many world-changing technological innovations.

Much of the brilliant creations were due in part to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and its place in the community. Apparently, the contributions of the Wright brothers, as well as of the astronauts that once lived in the area paved the way for such achievements. Other well-known individuals born in the city include poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and entrepreneur John H. Patterson. Dayton is truly a home for its many patents and inventions.

Throughout the years, there was a decline in heavy manufacturing in Dayton. But it only led to the city’s diversification including insurance, legal, and healthcare sectors of the government. The city is also among the top 100 metropolitan areas in both the exporting trade and in export-related jobs. Dayton is ranked no. 16 and 14 respectively in such aspects by the Brookings Institution.

Along with defense and aerospace, healthcare accounts for much of the Dayton area’s economy. Hospitals in the Greater Dayton area have an estimated combined employment of nearly 32,000 and a yearly economic impact of $6.8 billion.

It is estimated that Premier Health Partners, a highly distinguished hospital network, contributes more than $2 billion a year to the region through operating, employment, and capital expenditures. In 2011, Dayton was rated the number 3 city in the US by HealthGrades, a benchmarking authority for healthcare excellence.

In 2010, Dayton was named one of the best places in the United States for college graduates in looking for a job. From 2008 to 2010, Site Selection Magazine ranked the city number 1 among the mid-sized metropolitan areas in the nation for economic development. Published reports placed the value of Dayton exporting at $4.7 billion due to the number of export-related jobs at 44,133 within the area.

Currently, the Dayton Development Coalition is attempting to leverage the region’s large water capacity, estimated to be 1.5 trillion gallons of renewable water aquifers, to attract new businesses. This is expected to bring about a huge boost to Dayton’s economy.

Dayton’s climate features warm, muggy summers and cold, dry winters. It is categorized as a humid continental climate. Snow is moderate, with a normal seasonal accumulation of 59 cm, usually occurring from November to March, occasionally April, and rarely October. Precipitation averages 41.1 inches annually, with total rainfall peaking in May.


As the state capital, Columbus is the most populous city in Ohio, with a population of 905,748 as stated in its 2020 census. The city is the seat of Franklin County, which also extends into the Delaware and Fairfield counties.

Named in honor of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, the city had its origins as numerous Native Americans settled on the banks of the Scioto River, which was a teeming hub for trading at that time. Franklinton, now a city neighborhood, was the first European settlement, laid out in 1797.

The Columbus cityscape was founded in 1812, at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, and consequently turned out to become the state capital. The city officially assumed that title in 1816 and as a county seat in 1824.

As it had steady years of growth and industrialization, Columbus has experienced numerous floods and recessions which never hampered the city’s historical forging in any way. Beginning in the 1950s, Columbus began to climb through significant growth. Eventually, it became the largest city in Ohio in land and population by the early 1990s.

The city has a diverse economy covering education, government, banking, defense, aviation, food, clothing, steel, energy, and medical research. The metropolitan area is home to the Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest private research and development foundation.

As of 2021, the Greater Columbus area is home to the headquarters of six corporations in the US Fortune 500 including Cardinal Health, American Electric Power, L Brands, Nationwide, Alliance Data, and Huntington Bancshares.

Being the state capital, there is a noticeable presence of the US government in the city including city, county, state, and federal employers. Government jobs provide the largest single source of employment within the area.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, the GDP of Columbus in 2019 was $134 billion. During the 2007–2009 Great Recession, Columbus’s finances were not impacted as much as the rest of the country, due to decades of diversification efforts by long-time corporate residents, business leaders, and political leaders – proof that the city’s economy is among the strongest in the modern world.

Columbus is subject to severe weather typical to the Midwestern United States. The city’s climate is recognized as “humid continental transitional” with the south characterized by warm, muggy summers and cold, dry winters. Winter snowfall is relatively light since the city is not in the typical path of strong winter lows, such as the Nor’easters that strike cities farther east.

Ohio’s Smaller Areas


At first glance, this city might not be too appealing to hop into. However, some statistics show otherwise. Of all the hundreds of cities in Ohio, Dublin ranks 10th in the lowest crime rates, and it has the 3rd best public schools. Their residents are also in the top ten highest earners in the state.


This city ranks number 1 in 3 categories that include the safest place in Ohio, lowest unemployment rate, and shortest commuting time. It is said that if you don’t have a job in Wyoming, it’s because you choose not to work.


This city is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Ohio, but it also has great schools and very low crime rates. A huge plus is that it’s not overcrowded. Another huge advantage in Powell is transportation is fast, easy, and very accessible.

Upper Arlington

Upper Arlington (UA) is the 2nd best place to live in Ohio. The residents here are successful and are in high salary rates as evidenced by plenty of the townspeople who hop into early retirement. Another upside in UA is you won’t have to watch over your shoulder constantly because crime rates are very low consistently.

Grandview Heights

According to most recent surveys, Grandview Heights comes in very close second next to Columbus (along with Upper Arlington) as the best place to visit and live in Ohio. The households in the area are in the top ten in the state when it comes to average income. Furthermore, most of the residents are earning the highest salaries because of the high employment rate in the state.

As a tourist, or as someone who’s considering making Ohio a permanent residence, you can easily find places for fun and amusement because they thrive richly within the area. There are a variety of places that you can check within the aforementioned cities in just a short drive. With crime rates that are among the lowest in the US and with lots of friendly people, you can have all the joy and cheerfulness you could always hope for in Ohio.


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