City StoriesOhio

Glass City: Rise and Fall of Toledo, OH

Glass City: Story of Toledo, OH

Glass City, Cash City, the city of Toledo is a typical Midwest city that has more ties to the city of Detroit than any other city in the state of Ohio, while the Toledo ghetto has been plagued by poverty and violence.

With a similar story of being a once thriving city, Toledo has since declined from its once prominence by having one of Ohio’s highest poverty rate of almost 28% and an average income $20,000.

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With factory jobs like the Chrysler Plant being the only good paying jobs other than the University of Toledo and health services, Toledo became Glass City for the glass factories that were once operated in the city, in which some still do.

A city that was built on the backs of various ethnic groups of European immigrants, Toledo did not see a rise in the African-American population until the 1930s.

While, African-Americans have been in the region since the 1800s, whether they were runaway slaves or freedmen, the years between the 1930s and 1950s was the largest increase in Toledo’s black population.

After the arrival of African-Americans from communities in southern states many began to establish themselves by developing neighborhoods and creating a society for themselves despite facing discrimination and racial obstacles.

In Toledo’s early days, the two largest areas for African-Americans were on the city’s North Side around Stickney Avenue and the city’s South Side along Dorr and Nebraska streets from Detroit to Collingwood.

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Today’s “Out Stickney” neighborhood

The North Side’s “Out Stickney” neighborhood is probably Toledo’s oldest all-black community, while before its decline “Out Stickney” was a thriving successful black community that had multiple black establishments to serve the community.

Some claim that the black community on the city’s South Side, which currently is officially called ONYX, had its moments of success and had its moments of hardships.

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Mural of black excellence around Hawley and Nebraska, the heart of Toledo’s South Side.

During the 1930s, the city demolished portions of the South Side community to build one of the city’s first housing projects, an all-black housing complex named the Brand Whitlock Homes.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the city of Toledo built a few housing projects, but most were constructed on Toledo’s East Side like the Weiler Homes and Birmingham Terrace.

In the beginning, all the city’s housing projects were segregated but during the 1950s and 1960s the city began to end segregation laws and policies, opening the door for African-Americans to live in other sections of Toledo.

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The Weiler Homes of the East Side Toledo Ohio ghetto.

As the city’s white population was against integration and tried to prevent African-Americans from moving and relocating out of their community, many white families would relocate into suburban neighborhoods, areas further from the inner city.

As Toledo’s population grew so did the city’s community as newer neighborhoods were being built and older neighborhoods were having a change in their racial makeup.

As demographics changed, the city’s focus changed on what communities are served and which ones will be underserved, whether it is due to loss of a tax base in certain areas or voter turnout which gives opportunities for specific communities to be heard or not heard.

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Eventually, the black community further expanded into the North Side, outside of the “Out Stickney” neighborhood, in areas like Greenbelt, the Chase community along N. Summit Street, and surrounding areas of Lagrange Street and Cherry Street.

One of the North Side’s most notorious neighborhood is the Greenbelt community, also known as Cherrywoodz, home to an infamous low-income complex by the name of Greenbelt Place.

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CherryWoodz, once home to the Toledo gangs of the Crips

The Greenbelt Place apartments has had multiple names, Cherrywoods and Northwoods, but since the 1970s when the housing complex was constructed there has always been a reputation of crime and poverty.

A former area of Bloods and Crips, Cherrywoodz has been known to have conflicts with other ‘hoods of Toledo, especially the Chase Block and the Kent Block and Moody Manor area.

Moody Manor, another low-income housing complex in North Toledo, has often been highlighted for its trouble as this neighborhood sits along one of Toledo’s most reputable streets, Bancroft.

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Moody Manor, once home to the Toledo gangs of the Kent Block Bloods

The South Side has two sections, one section is located around South Avenue and Western Avenue and another section is south of Dorr Street centered around Nebraska Avenue.

The reputation of the South Side is like no other, from the old Brand Whitlock Projects to the numerous blocks of Belmont, Tecumseh or Woodland.

The other section of the South Side, south of the Anthony Wayne Trail, has a large Hispanic presence with their own affiliations and Toledo gangs separate from other sections of the city.

While the West Side is Toledo’s more affluent side there is a section that was once a dominant thriving European community until the 1960s and 1970s as the demographics slowly changed, mainly around Detroit Avenue.

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The West Side community of Detroit Ave.

While areas of Detroit Avenue may be considered as the South Side or North Side, this Toledo ghetto may be the roughest with ‘hoods and Toledo gangs like XBlocc or Fernwood and Lil’ Heads.

The West Side also stretches along Bancroft, until Upton Avenue where the street changes into an upper scale neighborhood, and Dorr Street as far as the Hill Ave community, an all-black working-class suburb near the University of Toledo.

The East Side was once a predominantly white middle-class community, with pockets of African-Americans, has changed much from previous decades as the East Side has become more of a lower income and working-class neighborhood.

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The Ravine Park Projects of the East Side Toledo ghetto.

Along Starr, Nevada and Navarre streets, sitting between the Maumee River and Interstate 280, is diverse communities of African-Americans, Latinos and Caucasians with the more known areas being the housing projects.

From the Earl Block of the Weiler Homes to Birmingham Terrace, the East Side’s housing projects have for long had notoriety within Toledo’s urban communities as these neighborhoods were the first black communities in East Toledo.

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The Toledo Ohio ghetto, the current condition of many of Toledo’s inner city areas

With the demolishing of one of Toledo’s oldest housing project, Brand Whitlock, and the heart of the Toledo ghetto is complete with empty lots and vacant properties, the black population seems to be growing out of the inner city.

In a city with a declining population, the current future of Toledo is unknown as poverty runs rampant in the Toledo ghetto, the streets and Toledo gangs are as active as any major city, and positive activities to occupy the community are scarce.

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*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

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