American Consequences - June 2019

the city to... no place in particular, not even Kalamazoo. And it constructed one of the nation’s first public housing projects, a Mid- Century Modern gem of an urban development with townhouses that could be sold for a fortune to present-day hipsters if the housing project hadn’t been torn down in 2012. The Great Depression was the best thing that ever happened to Toledo – aesthetically. YESTERDAY’S TOLEDO TOMORROW World War II was the next best thing. Not for Toledo’s war casualties... The city seemed more committed to actually fighting this world war, and 1,195 Toledoans died. But the rest of them went back to work.

The WPA and other “Works” programs also built Toledo a vocational school, seven grade schools, two high school football stadiums, a tuberculosis hospital, an artificial lake at a Boy Scout camp, and (on Lake Erie, not the Boy Scout lake) a naval armory – lest Britain go soft and Canada end up siding with the Axis. Federal make-work created a main library in an austerely beautiful Streamline Moderne style. It repaired the Fassett Street Bridge (not the previously mentioned suspension bridge, but an “un-suspension” bridge, half of which had fallen into the river). It improved facilities in public parks, installed new sewer systems, and overhauled the city’s waterworks to replace drinking water from the highly flavored Maumee. It filled and paved the stagnant, smelly remnant of Toledo’s canal, turning it into the “Anthony Wayne Trail,” a handsome four-lane parkway heading out of

Left: Aerial photograph of Toledo taken in 1947 from the Ford Blimp. (The author is being born somewhere below.) Bottom: Toledo in 2018.

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June 2019

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