This Week in Dayton History: UD Arena opens, downtown parking increases (25 cents!) and more stories to remember

Throughout this year, we’ll be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Dayton Daily News with stories, photos, videos and more.

Each week, we’ll bring you a selection of notable stories that happened this week in Dayton history, chronicled by the same newspaper that continues to serve the community today.

Here’s a look at some stories happening the week of Dec. 3-9.

Dec. 7, 1947: Orville Wright lauds pilots who circled the globe

Orville Wright, looking fit and trim despite a recent illness, greeted two “round-the-world” flyers George Truman and Clifford Evans at his Oakwood home.

The two pilots came to meet and ask questions of Wright, but found that Orville was the one doing the interviewing.

Wright had followed with great interest as the two men spent four months on their journey around the planet.

Wright was curious about weather conditions and what was the furthest northern point that they crossed. The answer was just 20 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska. Wright knew that intense cold and high winds in that area could make flying extremely hazardous.

“Well, you sure had nerve to attempt this trip,” Wright told them.

“Look who’s talking about nerve,” countered Evans.

The purpose of the men’s flight was to prove that their light plane, a standard Piper, was capable of taking a lot of punishment to which they are not normally subjected.

Evans asked Wright how much his first plane weighed. Wright said, “Minus the pilot, it weighed 605 pounds.” Evans said their plane weighed 850 pounds, surprising Wright.

Evans asked Wright about how they first learned to turn or steer a plane. During his explanation, Wright said that they made the first complete circle in a plane on Sept. 15, 1905.

Both Truman and Evans said it was “a great honor to be privileged to meet the man who through the efforts of himself and his late brother, Wilbur, had actually made out ‘round-the-world’ flight possible.”

Dec. 9, 1959: Courtesy, patience needed in downtown holiday traffic

It is difficult for some to imagine the days when a large part of holiday shopping was done downtown. To get a full holiday experience of the sights, sounds and shopping of the holiday, you had to be downtown.

But that also meant dealing with a crush of holiday traffic to get there.

Traffic patrolmen were stationed at 30 downtown intersections, as 50-man crews put in 11-hour days.

Second and Main street was labelled “the hottest corner in town.” There it took two patrolmen, one for pedestrians and one for motorists.

The three major issues were: Pedestrians continuing to start across the street after the “Don’t Walk” sign flashes, pickups and drop-offs of passengers in restricted curb zones and hesitation on right turns.

Dec. 5, 1969: New UD Arena even has restrooms

The year 1969 was the start of a new era for Dayton Flyers basketball. The new 13,490-seat UD Arena was opening.

This gave Dayton Daily News Hall of Fame sports writer Hal McCoy a chance to look back at the previous places the Flyers called home.

It started in 1903 with a red brick building known as “Old Gym” on the campus of St. Mary’s college, the forerunner to the University of Dayton. The fact that this building did not have any restrooms was reflected in the headline for this story. The building only had room for about 300 fans.

In 1926 the Flyers moved off-campus to the 2,000-seat Fairgrounds coliseum. McCoy wrote that “the floor is so narrow there, 10 players at one end of the floor resembled bowling pins ready to topple.”

It was back to campus in 1950 when the 5,800-seat UD Fieldhouse opened. It was thought by some at the time that the fieldhouse would never be filled. After two years, every game was a sellout. The Flyers won 255 games and lost only 34 in the fieldhouse.

Next up was UD Arena, opened in 1969 and still the current home for the Dayton basketball.

Dec. 3, 1979: Wait’s over; Lottery’s number come up

If you wanted to play the lottery in 1979, there was not the array of game choices that are available today. When a new lottery option started, it was a big deal.

“The Number” was the new game for the year. You picked three numbers with five different ways to win. It was a daily game and the winning numbers were announced at 7:29 each evening.

For the previous week, lottery enthusiasts were coming into stores like Wilkie News Inc. in Dayton to find out when the new game would begin. The store manager predicted it would be “wall to wall” in the store during the noon lunch hour.

At that time there were 481 lottery sales locations throughout Ohio.

The new game, for which a person wagered 50 cents to $5, was expected to gross $2 million to $3 million weekly during the first year.

Dec. 5, 1990: Parking downtown costs more

Motorists were upset in 1990 when the cost of a downtown parking meter went from 10 cents to 25 cents per hour.

The city had raised the rates on most meters 150 percent.

“We used to put a dime an hour,” said one downtown resident, “Now it’s a quarter. I used to put in four dimes for four hours.” That same amount of time would now cost $1.

The city for the first time also issued parking tokens, which were available for purchase at stores, restaurants and other downtown businesses. They could be used not just for parking meters, but also for parking lots, garages, RTA buses and taxi cabs.

City planner John Gower said the city could make the meters take either dimes or quarters with the tokens, but not both. “There’s going to be a training period...It’s going to cause some inconvenience, but the program is designed for the long haul.” he said.

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