Lindenwald is a reflection of 'trends happening in the larger scope of American life'
WVXU is spending time in the Hamilton neighborhood of Lindenwald as part of our community storytelling initiative, Round the Corner. We've heard about the community's roots and how it's looking to re-establish its business district. This week, WVXU's Tana Weingartner explores the community's changing demographics.
Folks in Lindenwald will tell you it's a great neighborhood. They'll also admit there are issues with car break-ins and littering, and that the community has largely been populated by white people since its inception.
Like the rest of the city of Hamilton, Lindenwald is slowly growing more diverse.
Duane Moore is a self-professed "lifelong Hamiltonian." He spent 20 years teaching social studies and African American history at Hamilton High School before becoming an instructional coach at Butler Tech.
He's lived in Lindenwald for 15 years.
"Just as we see the browning of America as a larger social trend over the last 15 to 20 years, I've also observed the browning of Lindenwald; because Lindenwald has always reflected other trends that are happening in the larger scope of American life," he explains.
If you're from Southwest Ohio, you've almost certainly heard of Hamilton's Appalachian roots as people moved there looking for work. Moore points out there was a similar migration route with African Americans coming to Hamilton from the deep South, places like Alabama and Georgia.
They, however, were cut out of Lindenwald by the discriminatory practice known as redlining. In the 1930s, the federal government graded neighborhoods into zones. White neighborhoods were rated better, while Black neighborhoods were considered undesirable.
The practice kept Black folks from getting good mortgages and other services, blocking upward mobility. It's taken decades to begin to undo the damage.
"I want to be clear in saying that Lindenwald, like all of Hamilton, is moving in the best direction that I've seen in my adult life," Moore says.
The neighborhood is diversifying in general. Along with more African American residents, immigrants from Latin and South America are buying homes there. When the owners of a Dominican restaurant in Middletown were looking to expand, they picked Lindenwald.
Driving through the community, you'll see flags from countries like Guatemala and Germany, as well as Black Lives Matter signs; Military flags, Pride flags, Trump flags and Biden signs.
According to Moore, "What you see over the last three decades is such a reflection of who's been able to get jobs, how and where, and where has housing been more stable."
People who moved to Lindenwald in the '40s, '50s and '60s came to stay. While parts of the neighborhood are becoming more transient, there are still lots of well-seasoned folks who've been there for decades. They raised their families there, they retired and stayed in their forever homes. Now their grandchildren are either there, too, or come back to visit.
Frank Downie is chair of the local community council, nicknamed Protocol.
"I've always heard that our strength is in what makes us different. If you can build strength out of diversity, you've really got something on your hands. Just learn a little bit more about people's customs, their eating habits, where they're from, why they do what they do, and then everybody, I think, just gets along better," he says.
Moore agrees and says the community does feel welcoming to newer Black and LatinX residents. He says the best way to make good neighbors is by being out and about, doing things like yard work while kids play.
"It was a kind of warm late spring, early summer day, and I remember thinking to myself, 'Look at all of these various light-skinned little brown boys and girls running around who are clearly biracial, multiracial children.' There's nothing that changes one's mind like a grandbaby."
As a teacher in the community, he heard the stories from his students first hand. They told him, "I was the thing that changed my grandparents' heart from what they once thought or considered to be true."