Thanks for this thoughtful, balanced piece.
I agree with you completely about the dismal state of Toledo’s contemporary architecture. We keep building windowless shoeboxes that are accessible only by car and seem designed to keep people out rather than to invite people in. Our county commissioners and city council should be tried for crimes against urbanity. They appear to think only of the (mostly low-paying) jobs that a new big box store or fast food outlet will bring to town, jobs that might be here for 15 years and then disappear. No one in power thinks much about the hideous architectural legacy we will be leaving the next generation: hundreds of hundreds of abandoned drugstores, big box stores, strip malls, and hotels. These blight-boxes will be with us for many decades.
One thing you didn’t mention on the plus side of the ledger is the abundance of theater companies in Toledo. Seriously. There are at more than twenty amateur theater companies operating in the Toledo metro area. We are the only city in the state that has so such an active theater community that OCTA, the Ohio community theater association, had to split us into two regions because we had so many different companies. What’s even more impressive than their number is that many of these companies are (finally!) doing more challenging and contemporary plays.
On a related note, I wouldn’t overlook the Toledo School for the Arts’ role in revitalizing both the Adams Street area and the arts scene in Toledo as a whole. That school was recently recognized as one of the best public urban schools in the state. It brings talented, creative, energetic young people downtown and gives them space to nurture their creativity.