Dayton (//) is the sixth-largest city in the state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County. A small part of the city extends into Greene County. The 2017 U.S. census estimate put the city population at 140,371, while Greater Dayton was estimated to be at 803,416 residents. This makes Dayton the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Ohio and 63rd in the United States. Dayton is within Ohio's Miami Valley region, just north of the Greater Cincinnati.
Ohio's borders are within 500 miles (800 km) of roughly 60 percent of the country's population and manufacturing infrastructure, making the Dayton area a logistical centroid for manufacturers, suppliers, and shippers. Dayton also hosts significant research and development in fields like industrial, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering that have led to many technological innovations. Much of this innovation is due in part to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and its place in the community. With the decline of heavy manufacturing, Dayton's businesses have diversified into a service economy that includes insurance and legal sectors as well as healthcare and government sectors.
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 hospital network, contributes more than $2 billion a year to the region through operating, employment, and capital expenditures. In 2011, Dayton was rated the #3 city in the nation by HealthGrades for excellence in healthcare. Many hospitals in the Dayton area are consistently ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and HealthGrades for clinical excellence.
Dayton is also noted for its association with aviation; the city is home to the National Museum of the United States Air Force and is the birthplace of Orville Wright. Other well-known individuals born in the city include poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and entrepreneur John H. Patterson. Dayton is also known for its many patents, inventions, and inventors, most notably the Wright brothers' invention of powered flight. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, Site Selection magazine ranked Dayton the #1 mid-sized metropolitan area in the nation for economic development. Also in 2010, Dayton was named one of the best places in the United States for college graduates to find a job.
Dayton was founded on April 1, 1796, by 12 settlers known as the Thompson Party. They traveled in March from Cincinnati up the Great Miami River by pirogue and landed at what is now St. Clair Street, where they found two small camps of Native Americans. Among the Thompson Party was Benjamin Van Cleve, whose memoirs provide insights into the Ohio Valley's history. Two other groups traveling overland arrived several days later.
In 1797, Daniel C. Cooper laid out Mad River Road, the first overland connection between Cincinnati and Dayton, opening the "Mad River Country" to settlement. Ohio was admitted into the Union in 1803, and the city of Dayton was incorporated in 1805. The city was named after Jonathan Dayton, a captain in the American Revolutionary War who signed the U.S. Constitution and owned a significant amount of land in the area. In 1827, construction on the Dayton-Cincinnati canal began, which would provide a better way to transport goods from Dayton to Cincinnati and contribute significantly to Dayton's economic growth during the 1800s.
Innovation led to business growth in the region. In 1884, John Henry Patterson acquired James Ritty's National Manufacturing Company along with his cash register patents and formed the National Cash Register Company (NCR). The company manufactured the first mechanical cash registers and played a crucial role in the shaping of Dayton's reputation as an epicenter for manufacturing in the early 1900s. In 1906, Charles F. Kettering, a leading engineer at the company, helped develop the first electric cash register, which propelled NCR into the national spotlight. NCR also helped develop the US Navy Bombe, a code-breaking machine that helped crack the Enigma machine cipher during World War II.