Why is Dayton called the "Gem City?"

Credit: Henryk Sadura

Credit: Henryk Sadura

Dayton has long been called the “Gem City,” a curious nickname that may have originated exactly 170 years ago this month.

Many Dayton businesses and organizations have incorporated the moniker into their own name, but few Daytonians can explain why their city is known as a “gem.”

Historians have developed a few theories to explain where the nickname came from, one of which being an article from August 18, 1845, written by a Cincinnati Chronicle reporter known as “T:”

“The most indifferent observer will not fail to notice Dayton. The wide streets, kept in excellent order, the noble blocks of stores, filled with choice, and of course, cheap goods, and more than all, the exceeding beauty and neatness of the dwellings, you at once mark with a 'white stone,' in a small bend of the Great Miami River, with canals on the east and south, it may be fairly said that Dayton is the gem of all our interior towns; it possesses wealth, refinement, enterprise and a beautiful country.”

While this is not the only theory, and there may never be a definitive answer to the question, this excerpt is one of the earliest known links between Dayton and the term “gem.”

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