The Ward M. Canaday Center

for Special Collections

The University of Toledo

Finding Aid

Downtown Toledo Associates

MSS-027

Size: 2 linear feet and 3 volumes

Provenance: Lois Nelson, Executive vice-president, Downtown Toledo Associates, 1982

Access: Open
Collection Summary: Collection consists of correspondence, reports, studies, and newspaper clippings related to downtown revitalization. Subjects include parking, urban renewal, transportation, and other postwar ideas on urban planning. Much of the material was sponsored by the City of Toledo.

Subjects: Business and Commerce, Civic Interests and Municipal Government

Copyright: The literary rights to this collection are assumed to rest with the person(s) responsible for the production of the particular items within the collection, or with their heirs or assigns.  Researchers bear full legal responsibility for the acquisition to publish from any part of said collection per Title 17, United States Code.  The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections may reserve the right to intervene as intermediary at its own discretion.

Completed by: Paul Gifford, August 1986

Reformatted by: Kimberly Brownlee, April 2005; last updated: June, 2014

Introduction

            The Downtown Toledo Associates Records, dating from 1955 to 1978, consist of correspondence, reports and studies, and newspaper clippings.  This material largely concerns issues relating to downtown revitalization, since the organization mainly represented downtown retailers.  These issues--parking, urban renewal, transportation, and others--reflect postwar ideas of urban planning.  The Downtown Toledo Associates was inspired by a Toledo Blade-sponsored study made by Norman Bel Geddes in 1945 that called for a master plan for Toledo's development.  As an advocate organization, members frequently participated on citizen's committees and commissions working closely with the City of Toledo on issues connected with the master plan, first drawn up in the early 1950s.  Much of the material, then, is city-sponsored.

Historical Sketch

 

            As Toledo sprawled in the postwar period and residents became less inclined to shop downtown, merchants in the core city began to suffer.  In response to this worsening state of affairs, a group of downtown businessmen, mainly retailers, organized the Downtown Toledo Associates on June 1, 1955.  Its goals were, at the outset, twofold:  to work as a civic group with units of local government on matters concerning downtown revitalization.  This second goal was sparked by the call, made by visionary Norman Bel Geddes in a Toledo Blade-sponsored study in 1945, for a master plan which would determine needs and priorities for the development of Toledo over the next thirty to fifty years.

 

            The issues with which the Downtown Toledo Associates concerned itself and the activities it undertook changed over the years.  Its first activity was to advertise in the newspapers special sales and parking rates.  Lack of parking space was then felt by the group to be the chief impedance to attracting business downtown.  By 1959, a major concern was the development of a downtown mall, a plan attempted in other cities but not successfully in Toledo.  The DTA also sought, about 1959, to enforce state blue laws, as a means to fend off the threat posed by discount stores, but again, without success.  Urban renewal was an important concern, at least until the late 1960s.  It was seen as a way to make the downtown area physically attractive and to locate prosperous residents closer to the area.  Finally, issues relating to transportation--expressways and mass transit especially--were prime concerns throughout the 1960s.

 

            The composition and purpose of the organization seems to have changed over the years.  Initially its members were primarily retailers, large and small, who banded together to find ways to improve their business.  Buy 1970, however, the organization was dominated by bankers, corporation executives, and real estate developers, although the larger retailers still carried a voice.  These people, influential in their own right, were more concerned with larger issues of development and planning than with the more immediate promotional activities of the group's founders.  Phillip J. Zeller sered as executive secretary from the end of 1955 to January1962.  He was succeeded by Burt Silverman, who held the office of executive vice-president until his death in 1978.  These men carried on the lion's share of correspondence of the organization and coordinated its activities.  At first, these activities were mainly luncheons that brought merchants together to hear experts on urban planning.  Later, members participated in such groups as the Mayor's Parking Committee (1969-1971) and the Convention Center Advisory Committee (1969).  The organization was also involved in the selection of parking structure consultants and architects for the convention center.

 

            The Downtown Toledo Associates continued as an organization under the leadership of executive vice-president Lois Nelson until 1983.  At that point the organization disbanded, Nelson becoming director of the Office of Promotion of the Toledo Chamber of Commerce.

Scope and Content Note

            The records of the Downtown Toledo Associates document the organization's interests and activities from its inception in 1955 to 1978.  Promoting business in the downtown area was its primary goal.  At first advertising special sales and parking rates--direct promotion--was its main activity.  These advertisements, run in the Toledo newspapers, have all been preserved in a scrapbook.  Two other scrapbooks contain a full record of local newspaper stories touching on downtown developments in general, especially parking, from 1955 to 1957 and from 1960-1963.

 

            The files in the collection are organized by topic.  The topics of greatest concern to the Downtown Toledo Associates were parking, expressways, and urban renewal.  Each topic generally contains correspondence, clippings, and pamphlet files.  Much of the correspondence is with the parking consultant firm, Wilbur Smith and Associates, with retailers, commercial organizations in other cities, and especially with city officials.

 

            Most of the published reports, and ultimately the topical files, have to do with the master plan, first outlined in the 1950s.  The Toledo Regional Area Plan for Action, finalized in the late 1960s, was the end result of Gedde's Toledo Tomorrow (1945).  The activity of the Downtown Toledo Associates and its executive Burt Silverman during the 1960s shows that their primary activity was to lobby city and county agencies for downtown development.  Much city and county material, therefore, is contained in the files.

Box and Folder Inventory

Box

Folder

Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

Master plan:

1

1

Correspondence

 

2

Phases one and two, Dec. 18, 1956-excerpts

 

3

Phase two

 

4

Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commission

 

5

Toledo tomorrow (1945):
An economic projection for the Toledo regional area, July 1965
A population projection for the Toledo regional area, November 1965
Goals for the region
A summary of population
A study of public facilities, June 1967
Community attitudes and preferences, March 1969
A parking space and use inventory, March 1969

 

 

 

 

 

Convention Center:

 

6

Committee-minutes and memoranda, 1969

 

7

Architectural selection committee

 

8

Correspondence

 

9

Editorials and news releases

 

10

Feasibility studies and reports

 

11

Legal issues

 

12

Material fromother cities

 

13

Newspaper clippings

 

14

Personal notes

 

15

University of Toledo-City complex, joint

 

 

 

 

 

General:

 

16

Newspaper clippings, 1955

 

17

Newspaper advertisement, 1957-1968

 

 

 

 

18

Industrial development

 

19

Membership

 

20

Model cities

 

 

 

 

 

Parking:

 

21

Committee-minutes and memoranda

 

22

Bulletins and newsletters

 

23

Consultant selection

 

24

Correspondence

 

25

Editorials and press releases

 

26

Finance-reports and recommendations

 

27

Maps

 

28

Material from other cities

 

29

Newspaper clippings

 

30

Reports and studies

 

 

 

 

31

Pedestrianization

 

32

Safety Committee

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping malls:

2

1

General

 

2

Newspaper clippings

 

 

 

 

3

Social functions

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday closing:

 

4

Bulletins and newsletters

 

5

Clippings

 

6

Correspondence

 

7

Legal papers

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation:

 

8

Alexis Road extension-clippings

 

9
10

Downtown distributor:
     General
     Maps and studies

 

11
12
13
14

Expressway
     Addresses and editorials
     Correspondence
     Newspaper clippings
     Newspaper clippings

 

15
16
17
18

Mass transit:
     Correspondence
     Financing
     Newspaper clippings
     Studies and reports

 

19

Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority-Board minutes, 1970

 

 

 

 

 

Urban renewal:

 

20
21

General
     Newspaper clippings
     Printed material

 

22

Reports-City of Toledo

 

23

Reports-Lucas County

 

24
25

Vistula Manor project:
     Newspaper clippings
     Reports

 

26

Urban Renewal Agency

 

27

Photographs

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbooks:

 

Oversize
Area

Newspaper clippings, 1955-1957

 

Oversize
Area

Newspaper clippings, 1960-1963

 

Oversize
Area

Advertisements, 1955-1959

Last Updated: 6/19/14