Probably the biggest problem with Youngstown and its environs is the people who live here don’t appreciate what a great place this is to live. Make no mistake, the area gets more than its fair share of bad publicity at the national level. Let me rephrase that. It gets mostly bad publicity at the national level. But the folks who write these insightful, but garbage filled, articles don’t live here.
Today it is very chi-chi to move back into the city. Media reporters and life style experts judge an area by the standards of the bubble in which they live. Who needs space? Who needs a yard? Who needs parking or a garage? And it just isn’t in New York City or Los Angeles. It is right here in Ohio as people pour into to Columbus. The result is traffic congestion beyond human tolerance. Expensive everything including housing. Big city apartment living can be cool for a while but gets old when it is time to haul the groceries up the elevator from the basement parking deck…or worse…out from the snow when you have to park in the street.
In the larger cities, the traffic congestion is so bad they are beginning to charge you for just simply driving into certain segments of the city, a long-standing European practice coming to a big city near you. It is amazing how self-appointed life style experts can con people into thinking bigger is better...and cool is calling inconvenient...convenient.
Youngstown offers inexpensive housing with relatively expansive living spaces and garages to park your car…often attached…at a price you can afford. You are a ten-minute drive from anything you need from bread at the convenience store to the emergency room at the hospital. It has cultural assets that surpass those in cities three or four times its size. It has all three television networks plus a local PBS. Great universities in any direction…but also a hometown university that gives best bang for the educational buck anywhere. Akron, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh are with an hour’s drive offering anything you may feel you are missing from great shopping, to great restaurants, night-life, theater, and entertainment...if you find the great offerings in our immediate area lacking.
An impressionistic painting of this area would feature lots of “green.” The Mahoning Valley has green space everywhere you look; park after park after bike path after bike path. Then there is the granddaddy of all Ohio parks, Mill Creek Metro Parks, which is spectacular by any stretch of the imagination.
Finally, there is the food. I know people who have moved back here just for the food. Those family recipes from Grandma’s kitchen have made their way into local restaurants and eateries. Try finding really good Italian food…the kind we eat here…in Columbus. From Italian to Greek to Eastern European to Deli to Chinese to Vietnamese and Mexican…it is a food bonanza. Not with the glitz you find in the bigger cities, but solid at it core in how it tastes and how it fulfills our need for comfort.
The Mahoning Valley is not without its problems. Some of them are formidable. But our foundation is rock solid. The old mill town mentality is slowly receding as the generations pass, but not receding enough to snuff out the character of the area. Certain corridors in and out of downtown are frankly depressing…but slowly getting better. What’s happening in downtown Youngstown and downtown Warren is almost miraculous.
Youngstown Eats is here to celebrate living in the Mahoning Valley. We will offer up not only stories about food, but also stories about entertainment and things to do and places to go within driving distance both here and in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania…from Cleveland to Akron to Pittsburgh with Youngstown/Warren smack in the middle...the greater Mahoning Valley is a great place to live. Youngstown Eats is here to celebrate it.