Unveiling a fresh view

The unveiling shows Youngstown has history other than steel.



YOUNGSTOWN — Jack Carlton is trying to bring Youngstown back to life, one mural at a time.

“The Murals Project: Museum Without Walls” began because he did not like the way downtown Youngstown looked.

Since 2000, 50 murals have been hung downtown, and the most recent were officially revealed to the public Tuesday.

Eleven vinyl murals were hung on the front and left side of the Paramount Theater building two weeks ago, and rain last week pushed the ceremony back one week.

Attendees were afraid of rain again during this ceremony, but the sky cleared as the ceremony got under way.

Black curtains were hanging over the murals on the facade of the former theater on West Federal Street. The murals on the Hazel Street side were left uncovered.

The ceremony began with Claire Maluso, director of events for Youngstown, welcoming the attendees.

Dave Bozanich, Youngstown’s finance director, said projects like the murals differentiate Youngstown from other communities.

City is back

Councilman Artis Gilliam Sr., D-1st, said his perception of downtown Youngstown was not much different from Carlton’s.

He described Youngstown as being “really nasty” and embarrassing. But he said things have changed.

“This town looks like a beautiful, beautiful town. A lot of people say Youngstown is coming back, but Youngstown is back,” Gilliam said.

The mural project is one of the reasons why Youngstown is back, said Patricia Brozik, president of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. She explained the murals emphasize the history and culture of Youngstown.

They do that by showing pictures of Youngstown’s theater district. The murals on West Federal show the street when the Paramount, Dome and Hippodrome theaters were open, along with the G.M. McKelvey Co. store. Others show photographs of actors and actresses who performed in the theaters and of the insides and facades of the theaters when they were in use.

One shows The Strand, also a downtown theater, and Isaly’s, a dairy that sold ice cream and chip-chopped ham.

Not just steel

After the ceremony, Brozik said she feels a lot of people have a narrow view of Youngstown’s history and that steel is the only thing that has ever happened here.

These murals show that Youngstown has a varied and interesting history.

“You can look back and see how rich [history was],” Brozik said.

Susan Carsonie, donor service coordinator for Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, said the murals are especially important for people who are not old enough to have seen Youngstown before the steel mills closed.

“I don’t think people know until they see it,” she said, and the murals provide an opportunity to see this history.

Now that work is complete on the Paramount Theater murals, Carlton, who created the murals revealed Tuesday, is going to work on replacing some murals that are already hanging on West Federal.

“I can’t wait to put more up,” Carlton said.


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